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Weng Wenhao (Chinese: ; pinyin: Wēng Wénhào; 26 July 1889 – 27 January 1971) was a Chinese geologist and politician. He was one of the earliest modern Chinese geologists, and is regarded as the founder of modern Chinese geology and the father of modern Chinese oil industry. From May to November 1948, Weng served as President of the Executive Yuan (Premier) of the Republic of China.

Weng Wenhao
Weng Wenhao.jpg
Premier of the Republic of China
In office
24 May 1948 – 26 November 1948
PresidentChiang Kai-shek
Personal details
Born26 July 1889
Ningbo, Zhejiang, Qing Dynasty
Died27 January 1971(1971-01-27) (aged 81)
Beijing, China
NationalityRepublic of China
Political partyKuomintang
Alma materCatholic University of Leuven


Early yearsEdit

Former residence of Weng Wenhao in Nanjing.

He was born in 1889 in Cixi, Zhejiang in late Qing Dynasty, and his courtesy name was Yongni (咏霓). His father was a locally famous businessman.

In 1902, he earned the xiucai degree in the Imperial Examination at the age of only 13 He later studied at a French Catholic school in Shanghai.

He obtained his doctor's degree on geology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1912. He was the first Chinese person to hold a western doctor's degree in geology.

ROC periodEdit

After returning to China in 1912, Weng served as Minister of Mine Industry and Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, in the Beiyang Government. He was a professor (and director from 1914) of the National Research Institute of Geography. Together with Ding Wenjiang, he founded the new National Geological Survey.[1]

He was also a professor of geology in both Beijing University and Tsinghua University. He once was the head of the Department of Geography, Tsinghua University. In July 1931, he was appointed acting president of Tsinghua University.

In 1928, he assisted Canadian paleoanthropologist Davidson Black in the establishment of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory for the research and appraisal of Peking Man fossils unearthed at Zhoukoudian.

During the period of Central (Provisional) Military Government of the Republic of China, he served in the central government as the General Secretary of the Executive Yuan (13 December 1935 – 9 September 1937); the Minister of Industry (till 1 January 1938), Minister of Education (28 October 1932 – 21 April 1933), and the Minister of Economy (1 January 1938 – 1947).

Invited by Chiang Kai-shek, He served as the first President of the Executive Yuan of Nationalist Government (capital Nanjing) (25 May 1948 – 26 November 1948).

In March 1948, he was elected a founding member of Academia Sinica.

People's Republic of ChinaEdit

After the Chinese Civil War, he moved to Beijing and served in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) with his longtime associate Qian Changzhao.

During the Cultural Revolution, he was specially protected by Zhou Enlai. In 1971, he died in Beijing.

Academic achievements & activitiesEdit

  • One of the founders of modern Chinese geography;
  • Set up modern Chinese oil industry;
  • Studies of the Peking Man;
  • Studies of earthquake in China.


He had four sons, the eldest one named Weng Xinyuan (翁心源), was a famous petroleum engineer who was killed in Cultural Revolution, the second oldest one named Weng Xinhan(翁心翰) was a pilot who was killed in the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The founder of Chinese modern geophysics - Weng Wenbo (翁文波), an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is his cousin.

Weng Xinzhi (翁心植), academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, is his nephew.

Major worksEdit

  • Studies of Earthquakes in Gansu Procince (《甘肃地震考》)
  • A Brief Record of Minerals in China (《中国矿产志略》)
  • Literary Collection of Zhuizhi (《椎指集》)
  • Mourn for Mr. Ding Zai-Jun (《追悼丁在君先生》)
  • Earthquake (《地震》)
  • Quadrumana Fossils in China (《中国灵长类动物化石》)
  • The First Record on Chinese Mine Industry (《第一次中国矿业纪要》)
  • Paleozoic Plant Fossils in the Middle Part of Shanxi Province (《山西中部古生代植物化石》)
  • An Elementary Introduction to Earthquake (《地震浅说》)
  • Lectures on Geology (《地质学讲义》)

Further readingEdit

  • Chronicle of Weng Wenhao, (《翁文灏年谱》), Oct. 2005
  • Weng Wenhao's Outstanding Contributions to Chinese Oil Industry, (《翁文灏的石油业绩》)
  • Selected Works of Weng Wenhao (《翁文灏选集》)
  • Fiskesjö, Magnus and Chen Xingcan. _China Before China: Johan Gunnar Andersson, Ding Wenjiang, and the Discovery of China’s Prehistory / 中国之前的中国:安特生,丁文江,和中国史前史的发现_. Bilingual edition, in English and Chinese. Stockholm: MFEA monographs no. 15, 2004. ISBN 91-970616-3-8.
  • Fiskesjö, Magnus. "Science across borders: Johan Gunnar Andersson and Ding Wenjiang." In: Stevan Harrell, Charles McKhann, Margaret Swain and Denise M. Glover, eds., _Explorers and Scientists in China's Borderlands, 1880-1950_. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011, pp. 240–66. ISBN 9780295991177.
  • Shen, Grace Yen. _Unearthing the Nation: Modern Geology and Nationalism in Republican China._ Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.


  1. ^ Shen, 2014; Fiskesjö, 2011; Fiskesjö and Chen 2004
Political offices
Preceded by
Chang Chun
Premier of the Republic of China
Succeeded by
Sun Fo