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Liang Cheng

Liang Cheng 1903

Liang Cheng in 1903

Chinese Name: 梁诚/梁誠

From: Panyu, Guangdong Province

Date of Birth: October 2, 1867

Attended: 1878-1881

Dorm: Lived With a Chinese roommate (Yuk Lin Lew '81) in McCurdy House

Class Year: 1882

Phillips Academy Department: Classical

College: Yale University, 1906; Amherst College, 1903 (both are honorary)

Scholarship: Chinese Educational Mission (1872-1881)

Career: Diplomat

Liang Cheng came to the United States as a student of Chinese Educational Mission in 1875 and enrolled in Phillips Academy in 1878. He was studying in Amherst college when the Chinese Educational Mission was recalled in 1881.

One of the reasons for the recall was the Chinese government thought these boys were too Americanized. Liang Cheng was no exception. Liang Cheng was a baseball fan and star in Phillips Academy and Amherst College. At Andover, he played third base on the school line. In an annual contest between Andover and Exeter, Liang’s three-base hit at a critical moment of the game decided the victory of Andover. This feat has been long remembered in the school after the game. [1] His love for baseball was life-long and even made news when he served as Chinese minister to Germany.[2]

After returning to China, Liang joined in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Beginning 1885, he served in Chinese embassy to the United States, Spain and Peru (one embassy served all three countries). He participated in the negotiations for the Treaty of Shimonoseki (Treaty of Maguan) after China lost the first Sino-Japanese War in 1895.

Baseball Team 1881

Liang Cheng in the baseball team 1881 (front, right)

In 1897, as part of Chinese legation, Liang was in London for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary of her accession to the British throne), and was named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. It was at this time that he placed his courtesy name ahead of his given name and became knighted as Sir Chentung Liang Cheng.

From 1903 to 1907, he served as Chinese minister to the U.S. and from 1910-1912, the Chinese minister to Germany. At the alumni dinner on the occasion of his 25th reunion Liang Cheng told the alumni that he felt under great obligation to the school, as his three years at Andover had been of great advantage to him in the four years of his official life in the United States. He related how the incident of hitting the triple in the 1991 EXETER game had affected his standing in Washington. Shortly after his appointment, President Roosevelt told him that an Andover student he met on one of his hunting trips informed him that he thought the new Chinese minister was the person that played on the Andover nine in the 1880s and won a big game with a hit. "When I ssured the President I was the same person," said Liang Cheng, "from that moment the relations between us became ten-fold stronger and closer." (source: Sue Hess, the Graham House staff)

While serving as the Chinese Minister, Liang Cheng was a guest of honor at a meeting of the Washington D.C.. Alumni Association of Phillips Academy. At that meeting he related how he introduced the game of baseball when he returned to China from Phillips Academy, and taught them the art of pitching curves. During that meeting Liang Cheng was elected President of the Washington Alumni Association. (source: Sue Hess, the Graham House staff)

Liang Cheng

Liang Cheng at Phillips Academy

Liang Cheng was primarily responsible for the negotiation of the return payment of the U.S. in his share of Boxer Rebellion Indemnity. He then used the return payment to establish Tsinghua College (now Tsinghua University) to prepare students for their education in the U.S. and to establish the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship (庚子赔款奖学金) which sponsored more than one thousand Chinese students in the U.S. Among these students produced the best educators and scholars, as well as engineers and doctors, in modern Chinese history. A scholar called the Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship the most consequential and successful in Chinese study abroad movement in the long twentieth century.[3] In his farewell speech to the U.S. after his tenure at Washington, he said, “I am a firm believer in the practice of sending young Chinese to American colleges, and I shall do all in my power to advance this practice.” [4]

After serving in the U.S., he returned to China and served as the director of the Guangdong–Hankou Railway, President of the Board of Foreign Affairs, and Comptroller General of Maritime Customs at Beijing. In 1909, he accompanied Prince Rui as a member of the Chinese Imperial Naval Commission to study the navies of western nations. In 1911 revolution, he, together with Chinese minister to Britain, petitioned to the emperor to declare China to be a republic. He then retired in Guangdong province, then later in Hongkong, and died in 1917.

See Liang Cheng Scrapbook


[1] LaFargue Papers, Washington State University,

[2] "Liang Cheng At Ball Game," New York Times, September 18, page C3.

[3] Weili Ye, Seeking Modernity in China’ Name (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002)

[4] “Chinese Envoy, Sad at Heart, Starts On Homeward Trip,” Chicago Daily Tribune, July 4, 1907, page 11.

New York Times' report on Liang's role in the negotiation of the return payment of Boxer Rebellion Indemnity, 1907

Sir Chentung Liang Cheng: An Address by Walter Muir Whitehill

Liang Cheng's Life by Tsinghua Alumni Association