Li Yuying

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Li Yuying, 1941.

Li Yuying ( Chinese  李煜瀛 , Pinyin Lĭ Yùyíng , W.-G. Li Yü-ying ), majority name Li Shizeng ( Chinese  李石 曾 , Pinyin Lĭ Shícéng , W.-G. Li Shih-tseng ), (* May 29, 1881 in Guangyang , Hebei , Chinese Empire ; † September 30, 1973 in Taiwan ) was a Chinese agricultural economist and educator . He founded numerous institutions to promote Chinese culture, for example the Institut Franco-chinois de Lyon . He was also one of the founders of the student exchange between China and France, the so-called Mouvement Travail-Études .

Origin and education

Li Yuying was the son of a dignitary at the Manchurian Imperial Court . He grew up in the traditional milieu of the Chinese upper class of the Chinese Empire , during the Manchu Dynasty his family had produced several imperial ministers.

In 1903, in the then prevailing climate of openness to the West, he had the opportunity to accompany Sun Baoqi , then his country's ambassador , to France. In Paris, he must have decided immediately to leave the familiar line as a Mandarin . Instead, he went to Montargis - he liked the city of three canals and two rivers - for three years to study agricultural science at one of the oldest agricultural schools in France, the École Pratique d'Agriculture du Chesnoy (today: Lycée du Chesnoy ). He then went to Paris to study chemistry and biology at the Sorbonne and the Pasteur Institute for another three years .

Life and work

On his departure from Montargis in 1906 following years to 1910, in which it parallel to his studies at the University of Paris Sorbonne as an intern in the laboratory of Professor Gabriel Bertrand at the Institut Pasteur worked, were extremely formative for Li. Yet in 1906 he founded, inspired by the ideas of anarchist Peter Kropotkin and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon , together with Wu Zhihui and Zhang Jingjiang , the Société pour l'avance ment de la morale (Society for the Promotion of morality) that a year later the New Century (新 世纪, Xin Shiji, Nouveau Siècle, New Era) funded a newspaper based on the 1895 of the 1895 based on the translation of the writings of the three leading figures of anarchism of the time, Peter Kropotkin , Errico Malatesta and Elisée Reclus French anarchist Jean Grave founded anarchist magazine Les Temps Nouveaux . He thus formed the center of the "Paris group" of Chinese, anarchist students. Their creed raised upbringing and education to the rank of important revolutionary activities. With their publications, they expressed that the goals of anarchism can only be achieved by educating the people. Accordingly, Li campaigned for the Paris group to leave the other two forms of activity of anarchist theory, political assassinations and organization of grassroots democracy , to others, as opposed to its focus on education .

In 1907, Li Yuying joined the Tongmenghui Movement , a secret resistance movement founded by the revolutionary leader and later first Provisional President of the Republic of China Sun Yat-sen . It sought to "give China back to the Chinese", establish a Republic of China and distribute the land fairly.

In 1908 he founded " Caséo-Sojaïne " in La Garenne-Colombes ( Hauts-de-Seine ) , a factory for soy processing and at the same time the world's first industrial soy milk production. He was convinced that China could use this to meet its nutritional needs. He hired around 30 young, talented employees whom he brought in from China and who at the same time gave them intellectual training in evening classes - usually starting a (biology) degree. True to his motto, with which he had focused the Paris group of Chinese students, influenced by European anarchists, on the important role of education in an open society, he financed them a European education and helped them to acquire Western-influenced production and trade know-how . He also saw it as an opportunity to gain practical experience about a possible life, work and study in an anarchic society.

On the occasion of the Xinhai Revolution , which ended the Qing Dynasty , Li Yuying returned to China in 1911 and collaborated with L. Grandvoinnet on the book "Le Soja - sa culture, ses usages alimentaires, thérapeutiques, agricoles et industriels" ( German: Soya - its cultivation, its use as food, in agriculture, in industry), which appeared in 1912. In the same year he founded the Association Travail-Études in France with the approval of the Minister of Education, Cai Yuanpei . From this cooperation arose the "Société franco-chinoise d'éducation" (French-Chinese society for education), which was set up jointly in Paris in 1916 and was commissioned with the cultural exchange between China and France. As early as 1914, more than 140 young Chinese went to France for a language stay after receiving an invitation to learn the French language as part of a preparatory course in Beijing. This study abroad program instilled not only the nationalist and revolutionary movements in China language elements and ideas of European anarchism, but was an eminently pragmatic approach, on the one hand and to enable students from modest backgrounds to study abroad and secondly a on mutual assistance and cooperation (laodong zhuyi) based juxtapose anarchist organizational model with profit-oriented entrepreneurial concepts (baijin zhuyi) .

In 1914, Li Yuying opened Paris' first Chinese restaurant. The following year he founded the “Société du travail diligent et des études frugales” (“Society for hard work and fundamental studies”) in China.

Together with a friend he tried to found a Pasteur Institute in Beijing in 1919 , which he proposed in 1922 at the celebrations for Louis Pasteur's centenary in Shanghai, but was postponed due to lack of funding. Although Louis Boëz took up the idea again in 1929, it was not until 1937 that the institute was founded. In 1920 Li Yuying took part in the establishment of a Franco-Chinese university in Beijing and in a similar institution in Lyon the following year.

In 1925 he became the first president of the board of directors of the Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing, and in 1928 he founded the Academia Sinica , a kind of Chinese world institute. In 1932 he met the French physicist Paul Langevin in Beijing, who was commissioned by the League of Nations to reorganize the Chinese education system. In response to his call, as well as Wu Zhihuis and Cai Yuanpei, a permanent Chinese delegation was brought into being at the instigation of the international organizations of intellectual cooperation in addition to the establishment of a Chinese-international library in Geneva. Between 1937 and 1944 he shuttled back and forth between China and Europe to support the fight against the totalitarian powers and to maintain cultural exchange. After the defeat of the Japanese , he returned to his native China and went to Shanghai . In 1946 Li Yuying - at the time Rector of the University of Peking - took part in the “ Grand Congrès du Soja ” (World Soy Congress) in Paris alongside Louis Blaringhem and the French overseas minister Marius Moutet as honorary president . He went to Beijing for the last time in 1948 to organize the 19th anniversary of the “Académie Nationale de Peping”.

In 1949 he moved from China to Uruguay, where he lived until 1955 and in 1954 founded and directed the Sino-International Library of Montevideo . Later, in 1956, he went to Taiwan and became the first general director of the National Palace Museum in Taipei . In 1966 he returned to France again to revive the Franco-Chinese Institute in Lyon. Li Yuying died in Taiwan in 1973 at the age of 92.

Mouvement Travail-Études

The name Mouvement Travail-Études was derived from the Chinese philosophy "Qingong jianxue yundong" and means, for example, movement for hard work and determined learning (Qingong Jianxue Hui) . The movement, which the Francophile Li Yuying was instrumental in founding, helped young Chinese between 1912 and 1927 to travel to France to study language and culture. Li Yuying himself had attended the agricultural school of Chesnoy in Montargis as an agronomist, where he established groundbreaking discoveries in nutritional science. At the same time, he was guided by the educational system of Western universities and elite schools, but also by the political libertinism of the time, in implementing the principle of the Movement Travail-Études. This was impressively implemented in a food technology industrial production facility he co-founded, the Caséo-Sojaïne . The lives of famous people in China were influenced by such cultural training in France. These included former leader of the Chinese Communist Party Zhou Enlai , former leader of the People's Republic of China Deng Xiaoping , former Chinese army leader Chen Yi , writer Ba Jin , painter Xu Beihong and composer Xian Xinghai .


Li Yuying had an extraordinary personality and, in his own understanding, devoted his life to extensive education. Politically close to some of the Chinese anarchic circles of his time - he had studied Proudhon and Kropotkin - he had a political morality with a universalistic and syncretistic touch that drew equally from the Chinese tradition and a Western libertinism . For several decades his life oscillated restlessly between French and Chinese cultures . Its contribution to the rise of Chinese elites before 1949 is immense.


His comprehensively recorded findings on soy cultivation have been published in book form:

  • Le soja - sa culture, ses usages alimentaires, thérapeutiques, agricoles et industriels, Li-Yu-Ying et L. Grandvoinnet; Translated, revised and supplemented edition supported by the Far Eastern Biological Society (Société biologique d'Extrême-Orient). Paris (A. Challamel), 1912, 150 pages (fr).

Web links

Commons : Li Shizeng  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  • "60 ans d'histoire de l'UNESCO", actes du colloque, 11/2005
  • Li-Yu-Ying, ... et L. Grandvoinnet, ... Le Soja, sa culture, ses usages alimentaires, thérapeutiques, agricoles et industriels. Traduction revue et augmentée de l'édition chinoise. Agriculture Pratique des Pays Chauds (Bulletin du Jardin Colonial) 11 (102): 177-96. Sept ... etc.
  • Biblioteca Sino-Internacional (Montevideo, Uruguay), 黄 淵 泉, 國立 中央 圖書館, 中國 國際 圖書館 中文 舊 籍 目錄, 國立 中央 圖書館, 1984
  • Zhongguo wuzhengfu zhuyi he Zhongguo shehuidang [Chinese Anarchism and the Chinese Socialist Party]. Nanjing: Jiangsu renmin chubanshe, 1981
  • Fetherling, George (May 18, 2006). "No Gods, No Masters / Anarchism". Retrieved March 21, 2009.

Individual evidence

  1. (for example Wu Zhihui: L'Education pour la Revolution. Nouveau Siècle, September 1908 - in Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume One, edited by Graham Robert, Montréal 2005, see Chapter 20, No. 98, [ 1] )