Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

By Li Yu-Ning | Go to book overview

5
The Chinese Woman Past and Present

Tseng Pao-sun

TSENG PAO-SUN ( 1893-1978), known in the West as P. S. Tseng, was an outstanding example of gentility imbued with a spirit of dedication to Confucian and Christian ideals. A great-granddaughter of the eminent statesman Tseng Kuo-fan ( 1811-1872), she was brought up in the Confucian tradition and became a Christian as a result of her education in mission schools. In 1916, she received the bachelor of science degree from the University of London, becoming the first Chinese woman to receive an academic degree in England.

Tseng never married, for she wanted to devote herself to women's education, which she believed to be fundamental to the task of building a modern China. The I-fang Women's School, which she founded and administered for two decades in Changsha, Hunan, was one of the best middle schools in central China during the Republican period. Her educational principles were: "Enjoy studying without becoming dull and pedantic," "Appreciate Chinese culture while possessing a scientific spirit," and "Believe in Christ without forgetting the Way of Confucius and Mencius."

The following essay was included in Symposium on Chinese Culture, edited by Sophia H. Chen (see chapter 4), published in Shanghai in 1931. In it, Tseng shows her evenmindedness, derived from her Confucian-Christian beliefs. She neither condemns the past nor demands radical emancipation, attempting, like many Chinese reformers, to balance freedom with self-discipline, and individualism with dedication to the family and the nation.

-72-

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