A famous trio of Badger activists from China’s Jiangxi Province

by Lihao “Billy” Yuan (UW-Madison history major).

Anfu County in China’s Jiangxi Province was home to three Badgers—Lung Chi Lo, Tsao Shih Wang and Wenying Peng—who trained in political science at UW-Madison in the 1920s and went on to become prominent political activists in China. They shared many common experiences: Anfu County as their home town, Tsinghua College as their conduit to study abroad in the U.S., and all three participated in the May 4th Movement, studied at UW-Madison, and taught in the early 1930s at Guanghua University(光华大学) in Shanghai. For these reasons, Lo, Wang and Peng are known today as the “Three Heroes of Anfu,” representing the “Third Way” in Chinese intellectual history. All three were considered problematic for both the Nationalists and the Communists because of their independent social-democratic stance and pursuit of human rights.


The home of Wang and Peng during their years in Madison.

In the later lives of these three Anfu natives, Lo became a politician, Wang was more of a scholar, and Peng was best known as  a journalist, but the trio shared a commitment to the reform of China that was nurtured in Madison. They raised money from speeches given in Wisconsin that were later used to launch two influential political magazines in China: Claims and Criticisms《主张与批评》and Free Speech《自由言论》. Today, you still can find the house where Wang and Peng lived together on 814 Oakland Avenue near campus.

这三位安福同乡后来的人生中分别扮演了不同的角色,罗隆基更像一个政治家,王造时更像一个学者,彭文应则更像一个记者,但是他们都在麦迪逊的校园里确立了改造中国的决心。他们在麦迪逊通过演讲等方式募捐到一笔经费,回国后办了两份颇具影响力的政治刊物:《主张与批评》和《自由言论》。今天,你依然能够在靠近校园的814 Oakland Avenue找到王造时和彭文应在1925年居住的宿舍。

Here’s a more detailed look at each of the Anfu Three:

Lung Chi Lo 罗隆基, (B.A. 23, M.A. 25), born in 1898, was admitted to Tsinghua College in 1912 as the top student from Jiangxi Province.

In 1919, Lo joined the May Fourth Movement then sweeping the country as an anti-imperialist reaction to the Treaty of Versailles’ concessions to Japan. Lo became a student movement leader as the Tsinghua Student Union president. In 1922, Lo came to the United States to study and completed his undergraduate (1924) and master (1925) degrees at UW-Madison. His master’s thesis, “The Conduct of Parliamentary Elections in England,” can still be found in the Memorial Library collection. Lo was an activist during his years in Madison. In September 1923, Lo and his Chinese classmates organized a famous young patriot fraternity in Madison, the “Great River Society”大江学会. In May 1925, when the colonial armies of Western powers massacred protesters on the streets of Shanghai (known as the 五卅惨案), Lo led Madison’s Chinese students in donating to the patriotic movement in their homeland. He then traveled to New York and gathered more than 300 Chinese students for a protest at the campus of Columbia University over the involvement of American troops in the massacre.

Petition about the 1925 Shanghai Massacre that Lo wrote during his years in Madison.

In 1928, Lo received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia and headed to London as a fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he studied under the prominent British political scientist and Fabian socialist Harold Lasky. After returning to China, Lo became a well-known political opponent of China’s Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang (KMT). He denounced the KMT’s suppression of political freedom and human rights. As a result, he was often in danger of arrest and assassination. Lo was one of the founders of the Chinese Democratic League (中国民主同盟) and participated in the first political consultative conference (政治协商会议) in 1949 under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Lo hoped the CCP would lead China into democracy and the rule of law. He was therefore involved in drafting the first constitution of the People’s Republic of China in 1954. However, his criticism of the CCP in 1957 caused him to lose all government posts and be labeled a “rightist leader.” He died in 1965 in Beijing after a long illness.

Tsao Shih Wang 王造时, (B.A. 27, M.A. 28, Ph.D. 30), born in 1903, entered Tsinghua College in the summer of 1917.

He became active in the May Fourth Movement in 1919 and was twice arrested by the police. Wang studied at UW-Madison from 1925 to 1929, completing his  undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D degrees in only four years, with a Ph.D. thesis titled “Disarmament in the diplomacy of the great powers after 1919.” Wang was also an activist during his time on campus. He organized the Chinese Students Against Japanese Invasion Association in the United States and founded a political league in Madison, which led to his magazines: Claims and Criticisms《主张与批评》and Free Speech《自由言论》. In addition, Wang made campus social news as the groom in the first marriage ceremony held at Memorial Union, when he married Tou Fang Chu in May 1929.

After returning to China in 1930, Wang became a professor of political science and also a lawyer based in Shanghai. The government shut down his magazines since he often criticized the dictatorship of the KMT and its weakness toward the Japanese aggression of that era.  However, this did not stop Wang’s efforts to fight against the regime.

The Wisconsin State Journal covered Tsao Shih Wang’s marriage in May 1929 to Tou Fang Chu. The article noted that over 200 attended the ceremony, presided over by Justice Marvin B. Rosenberry.

He founded a political organization, the Chinese People’s Salvation Association (中国人民救国会), and was arrested in 1936 with six of his colleagues for organizing anti-Japanese activities. This group was known as the “Seven Gentlemen of the Salvation Association” (救国会七君子). In the courtroom where the seven people were tried, Wang argued points of law and political science with the judge and the prosecutor. He turned the show trial into a grand pulpit for propaganda against the Japanese, earning a nationwide reputation. However, while opposing the KMT, Wang also criticized the Soviet Union for its policy of appeasement in response to the Japanese invasion of China. After the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China, Wang remained unpopular with the CCP. In 1957, he was accused of being a rightist leader and his home was raided during the Cultural Revolution. All of his children died in political campaigns, and he died in prison in 1971.

Wenying Peng 彭文应,(B.A. 27), was born in 1904. Like Lung Chi Lo, he was admitted to Tsinghua College with the top ranking in Jiangxi Province.

He headed to UW-Madison in 1925 to study in the political science department, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1927. He began his graduate work at Columbia University, earning his master’s degree in 1932. Peng could have pursued his doctoral studies, but the increasingly volatile situation in China, including the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese, led to his decision to focus on countering Japanese propaganda. When the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931, he lectured in various towns in New York State, New Jersey, and across New England to offer Americans a Chinese perspective on what was happening in northern China. In 1932, he returned to China and became a university professor and columnist in Shanghai. Together with his UW-Madison classmate Tsao Shih Wang, he published respected essays including in the publications Claims and Criticisms《主张与批评》and Free Speech《自由言论》. He was the first in China to propose the construction of a democratic socialism and constitutional system with Chinese characteristics《社会主义之路比较通》. At the same time, he proposed to reform China’s education by referring to the American system of higher education and public education《教育的根本改造》.

The first issue of one of Wang’s many publications,  Claims and Criticisms《主张与批评》which appeared in China in 1932.

His socialist views brought him to the attention of the KMT regime, and earned him a place on its secret service’s assassination list. Peng had contact within the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s and helped rescue arrested Communists during the struggle between the KMT and CCP. After 1949, however, the CCP did not treat Peng well. In 1957, Peng was brutally persecuted for criticizing the Communist Party for not giving people the democratic rights they deserved. Unlike other “rightists,” Peng was one of the very few intellectuals in China who refused to sign a letter of repentance. Until his death from sepsis in 1962, Peng Wenying did not admit any guilt.


Lo’s digitized UW master thesis (1925): https://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89086881000

Wang’s (not digitized) UW Ph.D. thesis (1929): https://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/999873515202121

Newspaper articles:

“Rosenberry Weds Chinese Pair,” Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wisc., May 20, 1929.

“Sees Manchuria Peace Vital to All Nations,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January, 2, 1932. (Coverage of a talk in New York by Peng Yingyu.)

“U.W. Man Is President of The Alliance,” The Capital Times, Madison, Wisc., May 28, 1928. (Refers to Wang’s Chinese Students Against Japanese Invasion Association)

会务 (Conference Affairs) section, 游学部 (Student Travel Division), 寰球中国学生会周刊 (Global Chinese Student Weekly magazine), “禹成美王造时彭文应杨伟均已抵美 (Wang, Peng, and two other classmates arrive in the States),” Oct 17, 1925.

Magazine articles published in Shanghai by Wang and Peng:

  • “教育的根本改造 (The Basic Reform of Education),” Issue 1, Nov 1, 1932.
  • “社会主义之路比较可通 (The Socialist Road is more preferable for China),” Issue 4, Dec.15, 1932.

Memoirs and collected works:

彭文应先生百年诞辰(1904-2004)纪念册 (100th Anniversary Volume on Mr. Peng Wenying (1904-2004). Unpublished memoir by Peng’s family, available in the UW-Madison Library collection.

Ye, Yonglie 叶永烈, ed., 我的当场答复 (My Answer at the Trial), Beijing, 1999. Wang’s collected works published by Ye Yonglie, right? Yes, it is correct! The trail here refers to the trail of Wang in 1957 as the rightist leader.

Xie Yong 谢泳, ed., 我的被捕的经过与反感 (My Arrest and Resentment), 1999. Collected works for Lung Chi Lo.