vk wellington koo

Wellington Koo


Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo (traditional Chinese: 顧維鈞; simplified Chinese: 顾维钧; Pinyin: Gù Wéijūn; Wade-Giles: Ku Wei-chün) (January 29, 1887November 14, 1985), Western name V.K. Wellington Koo, was a prominent diplomat under the Republic of China, representative to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Ambassador to France, Great Britain, and the United States; participant in founding the League of Nations and the United Nations; and judge on the International Court of Justice at the Hague from 1957 to 1967. .

Early life and Career

Born in Shanghai in 1887, Koo attended Saint John's University, Shanghai, and Columbia College, where he was a member of the Philolexian Society, a literary and debating club, and graduated in 1908. In 1912 he received his PhD in international law and diplomacy from Columbia University.

Koo returned to China in 1912 to serve the new Republic of China as English Secretary to President Yuan Shikai. In 1915 Koo was made China's Minister to the United States and Cuba. In 1919 he was a member of the Chinese delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, led by Foreign Minister Lou Tseng-Tsiang. Before the Western powers and Japan, he demanded that Japan return Shandong to China. He also called for an end to imperialist institutions such as extraterritoriality, tariff controls, legation guards, and lease holds. The Western powers refused his claims and, consequently, the Chinese delegation at the Paris Peace Conference was the only nation that did not sign the Treaty of Versailles at the signing ceremony.

Koo also was involved in the formation of the League of Nations as China's first representative to the newly formed League. He was briefly acting premier and Foreign Minister in 1926-1927 during a period of chaos in Beijing under Chang Tso-lin. He represented China at the League of Nations to protest the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. He served as the Chinese Ambassador to France from 1936-1940, until France was occupied by Germany. Afterwards he was the Chinese Ambassador to the Court of St. James's until 1946. In 1945 Koo was one of the founding members of the United Nations. Afterwards he was the Chinese Ambassador to the United States trying to maintain the alliance between the Republic of China and the United States as the Kuomintang began losing to the Chinese Communists and had to retreat to Taiwan.

Koo retired from the Chinese diplomatic service in 1956. In 1956 he became a judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague and served as Vice-President of the Court during the final three years of his term. In 1967 he retired and moved to New York City where he lived until his death in 1985.


Wellington Koo was married four times.

  • A first wife, name unknown, divorced.
  • Pao-yu "May" Tang (circa 1895-1918), who was the youngest daughter of the former Chinese prime minister Tang Shaoyi and a first cousin of the painter and actress Mai-Mai Sze. Married circa 1914, the Koos had two children, a son, Teh-chang Koo (1916-1982), and a daughter, Patricia Koo (b. 1918).
  • Hui-lan Oei (1899-1992), , whom Koo married in Brussels, Belgium, 1921. Much admired for her adaptations of traditional Manchu fashion, which she wore with lace trousers and jade necklaces,, she was one of the 42 acknowledged children of the Peranakan Chinese sugar magnate Oei Tiong Ham and wrote two memoirs: Hui-Lan Koo (Mrs. Wellington Koo): An Autobiography (written with Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer, Dial Press, 1945) and No Feast Lasts Forever (written with Isabella Taves, Quadrangle/The New York Times, 1975). By her, Koo had two sons, Yu-chang Koo (b. 1922, a.k.a. Wellington Koo Jr) and Fu-chang Koo (b. 1923, a.k.a. Freeman Koo). The Koos were divorced circa 1955.
  • Juliana Young, the widow of Huang-son "Clarence" Young, married circa 1955. By her he had three stepdaughters: Genevieve, Shirley, and Frances Loretta Young.


  • "Ku Wei-chun," in Howard Boorman, Richard Howard, eds. Biographical Dictionary of Republican China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968) Vol 2 pp. 255-259.
  • Craft, Stephen G. V.K. Wellington Koo and the Emergence of Modern China. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003.
  • Hui-lan Oei Koo,with the help of Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer, Hui-Lan Koo: An Autobiography (New York: Dial Press, 1943).


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