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Zhou Ziqi (Chinese: 周自齊; pinyin: Zhōu Zìqí; Wade–Giles: Chow Tzu-ch'i) (17 November 1869 – 21 October 1923) was a Chinese educator and politician in the late Qing dynasty and early republican period. During the early part of the Republic, he served multiple roles: first in multiple ministry positions, (including Communication and Finance), as a diplomat, then as acting President of the Republic, and, for a time, as acting Premier in 1922, during Liang Shiyi's illness. He was a member of the Communications Clique.

Zhou Ziqi
Zhou Ziqi.jpg
President of the Republic of China
In office
2 June 1922 – 11 June 1922
Preceded byXu Shichang
Succeeded byLi Yuanhong
Premier of the Republic of China
In office
8 April 1922 – 11 June 1922
PresidentXu Shichang
Himself (as acting President)
Preceded byYan Huiqing
Succeeded byYan Huiqing
Minister of War of the Republic of China
In office
Preceded byDuan Qirui
Succeeded byWang Shizhen
Personal details
Born(1869-11-17)November 17, 1869
Guangdong, Qing Dynasty
DiedOctober 21, 1923(1923-10-21) (aged 53)
NationalityRepublic of China
Political partyNon-partisan
Other political
Progressive Party
EducationColumbia University
Military service
Allegiance Qing dynasty
Flag of China (1912–1928).svg Republic of China


Born in Guangdong, Zhou, who spoke both Cantonese and Mandarin, later moved back to his ancestral province of Shandong. He received higher education in the United States at Columbian University (Washington DC). Upon returning to China, he helped founded Tsinghua University, to prepare students to study abroad in America; among the subjects he emphasized were English, mathematics, and science. During his time at Tsinghua, Zhou was in charge of sending students to study abroad; and, in 1911, he served as president of the university.

As the governor of Shandong Province, he exerted significant influence, helping leak information about the Twenty-One Demands to the media.

A supporter of Yuan Shikai, the provisional president, and his actions to revert China from a republic to an monarch-led empire, Zhou, during his tenure as governor of Shandong, believed that the Chinese people, with a literacy rate of 2%, were not ready to govern themselves. In his view, the people could only be manipulated by politicians, and their actions would bring instability and chaos to the country. (To further buttress his argument, Zhou may have invited Columbia University political scientist Frank Johnson Goodnow to justify monarchism for China.) In 1913, Yuan appointed him Minister of War, a post in which he served until the following year.

Yuan attempted to re-establish the Empire of China in late 1915, sending Zhou to the Empire of Japan as a special envoy. The Japanese government under Okuma Shigenobu rejected him, and he returned to China to tell Yuan that his government had lost foreign support. After the failure of the restoration of the monarchy and Yuan's death in June 1916, Zhou found that his support for the Empire was not without personal cost: considered one of the eight top monarchists of the former regime, he was declared a traitor; and the new President, Li Yuanhong, ordered his arrest, causing Zhou to flee to Japan for asylum. After being pardoned by President Feng Guozhang in 1918, he served as Minister of Finance in 1920, under Xu Shichang.

As finance minister, he lost a power struggle against Premier Jin Yunpeng in 1921, and was compelled to resign. Seeking revenge, he convinced Zhang Zuolin to replace the premier with Liang Shiyi, the head of the civilian Communications Clique. That same year, he served as a member of the Chinese delegation to the Washington Naval Conference, before his resignation due to the "negative results" of the conference.[1]

Zhou also served as President of the Bank of China, Minister of Communication, Minister of Military, Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, and the Inspector General of Salt.

In 1922, he briefly served as acting premier and acting president, after the resignation of Liang as premier (due to illness),[2] and, later, Xu as President. His presidency, the shortest in Chinese history, was an interim one, as the Zhili clique tried to woo Li Yuanhong back into office. Having succeeded, but complaining of Zhili interference, he left to study film-making in the United States, later returning to China to start a film studio. He died the following year.


  1. ^ "Attaches of Delegation Resign in Protest Against 'Negative Results' of Conference.; THREE MORE CHINESE ADVISERS RESIGN". The New York Times. 1921-12-07. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  2. ^ "CHINA HAS ACTING PREMIER.; Chow Tzu-Chi Named in the Absence". The New York Times. 1922-04-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
Political offices
Preceded by
Xu Shichang
President of the Republic of China
Succeeded by
Li Yuanhong
Preceded by
Yan Huiqing
Premier of the Republic of China
Succeeded by
Yan Huiqing