This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
His Excellency Dr. Chen Chin-tao was born at Nan-hai Hsien, Kwangtung Province, in 1870. After receiving his early education, he attended Queen’s College, Hongkong; from which he was graduated. He then instructed at Queen’s College, for a time; and later he went North to become a professor at the Peiyang University.
In 1901, Dr. Chen went to America, with government support, to obtain a higher education. He studied mathematics and social sciences at Columbia University, during 1901-1902. After being graduated, in 1902, and receiving the degree of Master of Science, he entered Yale University, where he took a course in political economy. He graduated from Yale in 1906, being given the degree of Ph.D. The subject of his doctorate dissertation was “Societary Circulation”.
In 1906, Dr. Chen returned to China and was made a Hanlin by the Chinese Imperial Court. During the Ching régime, he held successively the following positions: Educational Inspector of Canton, Educational Inspector at Peking, Inspector of the Ta Ching Government Bank, Chief of the Budget Department of the Board of Finance, Chief of the Department of Statistics of the Board of Finance, Vice-Director of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, Chairman of the Currency Reform Commission, Vice-Governor of the Ta Ching Government Bank, Member of Tzu Cheng Yuan, and Vice-President of the Board of Finance in the Cabinet organized by His Excellency Yuan Shih-kai. Early in 1912, he was appointed Minister of Finance under the Provisional Republican Government.
Dr. Chen was appointed Chinese Representative to the International Conference of Chambers of Commerce, which was held in Boston. He was also commissioned to select a site for the Chinese Government Pavillion at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, which was to be held in San Francisco in 1915.
In September 1912, before he returned to China, Dr. Chen was appointed Director of the Audit Bureau. In October of the following year, he was appointed Financial Commissioner to Europe. Later, he served as Advisor to the President.
On June 23rd, 1916, Dr. Chen was appointed Minister of Finance and Director-General of the Salt Administration. A few days later, he was appointed to serve, concurrently, as Minister of Foreign Affairs. This latter position he held until October 1916; but retained his post as Minister of Finance until May 1917,—when he was removed from office as the result of a plot, of certain political opponents, whereby he was charged with having embezzled public funds. He was prosecuted by the Court, but, in February 1918, was exonerated by special mandate of the President.
In 1920, Dr. Chen, who was at that time recognized as one of China’s most able financial experts, was appointed Minister of Finance in the Constitutional Government, which had been organized in Canton by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Dr. Wu Ting-fang, and others.
He is the author of many standard works, among which are, “Distribution of Wealth” and “Public Schools in the Four Countries”. He has been awarded the Second Order of Tashou Paokuang Chiaho.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 42.