World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Peng Chun Chang

Peng Chun Chang also P. C. Chang (simplified Chinese: 张彭春; traditional Chinese: 張彭春; pinyin: Zhāng Péngchūn; Wade–Giles: Chang1 P'eng2-ch'un1) (1892 – 1957) was a Chinese academic, philosopher, playwright, and diplomat. He was born in Tianjin, China, and died at his home in Nutley, New Jersey.[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Philosophy and activities on human rights 2
  • Further reading 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Born in China, he was the younger brother of Chang Po-ling, the founder of Nankai University. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts. in 1913, and a PhD from Columbia University, where he studied with the eminent philosopher and educator, John Dewey. He returned to China and became a professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, where he taught philosophy and became a scholar of Chinese traditional drama. He became a member of the circle of Mei Lanfang, foremost interpreter of Peking Opera. In 1930, he directed a tour of Chinese Classical Theater to North America, and in 1935 to the Soviet Union.[2]

After the invasion of China by Japan in 1937, Chang joined the anti-Japanese resistance at Nankai. When the Japanese arrived there, he fled by disguising as a woman. He was engaged by the Chinese government to assist in promoting awareness in Europe and America of the Nanking Massacre.[3] Chang later taught at the University of Chicago.

Chang became a full-time diplomat in 1942, serving as China's representative in Turkey. He was an enthusiastic promoter of Chinese culture. While in Turkey he delivered lectures on the reciprocal influences and commonalities between the Islamic and Chinese cultures, and on the relationship between Confucianism and Islam.[3] Following the war, Chang was a Chinese representative to the conference which produced the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Chang resigned from the UN in 1952 because of a worsening heart condition and died in 1957.[4]

Philosophy and activities on human rights

Chang has been described as a renaissance man. He was a playwright, musician, diplomat; a lover of traditional Chinese literature and music and someone who knew both Western and Islamic culture. His philosophy was strongly based on the teachings of Confucius. At the first meeting of United Nations Economic and Social Council he quoted Mencius stating that ECOSOC's highest aim should be to "subdue people with goodness."[5] He also argued that many influential western thinkers on rights were guided by Chinese ideas. "In the 18th century, when progressive ideas with respect to human rights had been first put forward in Europe, translations of Chinese philosophers had been known to, and had inspired, such thinkers as Voltaire, Quesnay and Diderot in their humanistic revolt against feudalism," he told the UN General Assembly in 1948.[6]

On the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafting committee, he served both as an effective Asian delegate and also as a mediator when the negotiations reached a stalemate. He served as Vice-Chairman of the original UN Commission on Human Rights and Republic of China delegate to committee and played a pivotal role in its drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948.[7] He and fellow delegate Charles Malik, the Lebanese philosopher- diplomat, shared ideals of universal human rights, but debated what they were and how they could be described in an international document. By most accounts, Chang and Malik were the philosophical leaders of the deliberations. Chang argued that the modern world should pay heed to Chinese philosophers such as Mencius not because they were Chinese, but because their ideas had universal validity.[8]

Further reading

Sumner Twiss, "Confucian Contributions to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," in Arvind Sharma. The World's Religions : A Contemporary Reader. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011). ISBN 9780800697464.


  1. ^ July 21, 1957New York Times(Obituary)
  2. ^ Columbia and China: Past and Future - Lydia Liu presentation on P. C. Chang on YouTube
  3. ^ a b A World Made New : Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.Mary Ann Glendon. (New York: Random House, 2001). ISBN 0679463100, p 133
  4. ^ Glendon, p 211
  5. ^ Glendon, p 33
  6. ^ Sumner Twiss, "Confucian Ethics, Concept-Clusters, and Human Rights ," in Henry Rosemont, Marthe Chandler and Ronnie Littlejohn. Polishing the Chinese Mirror : Essays in Honor of Henry Rosemont, Jr. (New York: Global Scholarly Publications, Acpa Series of Chinese and Comparative Philosophy, 2008). ISBN 9781592670833 p. 60-65.
  7. ^ Twiss, 'Confucian Ethics."
  8. ^ Glendon, p. 144.

External links

  • Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning Biography
  • Columbia and China: Past and Future - Lydia Liu presentation on P. C. Chang on YouTube
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.