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The Firsts and Pioneers

Sun Yueqi

 

 

Sun Yueqi, the Founder of Chinese Oil Industry

Sun Yueqi (original name, Yuqi; ancestrial home, Sheng County in Zhejiang Province) was a famous patriot, entrepreneur, social activist, and a cherished friend of the Chinese Communist Party. He was one of the founders of the energy industry in China’s modern history, and respected as the “Great Master of Industry and Mining”.

Sun Yueqi was born in Tongkang, a small village in Shaoxing County, Zhejiang Province on October 16, 1893. He was admitted to Shaoxing Jianyi Normal School in 1909, and after his graduation, he worked as a volunteer teacher for a year. In 1913, he went to study at Shanghai Fudan Public School, where he met Shao Lizi. In 1916, he was admitted to the Department of Mining and Metallurgy of Peiyang University where he was elected Chairman of the Student Union.

 

Sun transferred to the Department of Mining and Metallurgy of Peiking University after the May 4th Movement, and graduated in 1921. In 1924, he accepted the job offer to set up the coal mines of Muleng (now Jixi). The coal mine, named “China-Russia Muleng Coal Mine Company”, was co-founded by the Industry Department of Heilongjiang and a Belarusian merchant. Sun Yueqi and a Russian were appointed the leaders of the exploration team. In September 1925, Sun Yueqi was appointed by the board as the Chinese Section Chief of Mining Administration, and Section Chief of the Engineering Industry. He was assigned the task of drilling the straight well No.2. The project started in November 1925; in September 1926, when the well reached 51 meters deep, coal was discovered, with a daily output of 700 tons. That was the first project he accomplished during his lifetime.

 

In August 1928, Sun Yueqi, at the age of 36, went to the US to study mining. He pursued his post-graduate studies at Stanford University and Columbia University, and visited UK, France, Germany and the Soviet Union to observe and study oil fields and coal mines. During his stay in the US, he observed the gold mining technologies, the oil wells, and coal mining technologies, which was a real eye-opening experience for him. After his return to China in 1932, he worked as the Commissioner of the National Defense Committee and the Director of the Mining Department. Later when he worked as the Director of the Northern Shanxi Oilfield Exploration Department, he led a team of engineers on an oil exploration in the area of Yanchang and Yanchuan in northern Shanxi, and succeeded in drilling the first oil well in China. He, then went with Weng Wenhao, to resolve the problems at the Zhongfu Coal Mine where he worked as the chief engineer. In the winter of 1936, Sun was appointed the General Manager of the Zhongfu Coal Mine Company.

 

When the Sino-Japanese War broke out on July 7 1937, Sun Yueqi fought the opposition from shareholders and started to disassemble and transport the machines and devices to the south. Hu Shiqing, a director of Zhongyuan Company, said, “Zhonghu Coal Mine was the only company that moved to Sichuan during the war against the Japanese aggression. It was virtually the origin, leading up to the establishment of four coal mines in Sichuan and thus became a major support for the Chinese Resistance against Japanese Aggression. It was not until today that I fully understood what a far-sighted, enterprising person Manager Sun was.”

 

In December 1941, soon after the Pacific War broke out, Sun Yueqi, as the General Manager of Gansu Petro, visited Yumen again, with Guo Kequan, Pan Zhijia, and Zou Ming. The large-scale production of oil relieved the tension of severe oil shortages during the Chinese Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Sun Yueqi is therefore deemed as one of the founders of the energy industry in China’s modern history.

 

Sun was awarded a gold medal at the 11th Annual Meeting of the Chinese Institute of Engineers in August 1942. In September 1945, after China was victorious in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, Sun Yueqi was appointed as the northeastern commissioner of the Wartime Production Bureau in the Economic Department of the Executive Yuan. He took over the heavy industry in the northeastern area, and at the same time served as the Head of the Hebei-Peiping-Tianjin Enemy and Puppet Regime’s Property Disposal Bureau. In May 1948, Weng Wenhao became the President of the Executive Yuan, and Sun Yueqi served as the member of the Executive Yuan and the Chairman of the Resources Committee.

 

Sun returned to Beijing in 1949 and served as the Deputy Chief of Planning Bureau of Financial and Economic Affairs Committee, and later worked as the Deputy Director of the Administration Department in Kailuan Coal Mine, the Deputy Director of the People’s Congress Standing Committee of Hebei, the Vice-chairperson of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) of Hebei, and consultant for the Ministry of the Coal Industry. He was a member of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th CPPCC, and a standing committee member of the 5th, 6th and 7th CPPCC.

 

Sun joined the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (RCCK) in 1950 and successively held the positions of Chairperson of Hebei RCCK, Standing Committee Member, Vice Chairperson of RCCK, Chairperson of the Supervision Commission, and Honorary President of China. He also accepted the invitation to be the Honorary President of the Western Returned Scholars Association, and Honorary Chairman of Xinhai Revolution Study Society.

 

After the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Sun Yueqi, who was already in his 80s, still traveled across China to undertake research and further studies, proposed plans for the economic development and reforms, and contributed many valuable insights. He devoted his whole life to China and the people of China. He was patriotic, practical, devoted, and honest, an ideal role model. He believed in the power of technology in the development of China and fought for his ideals, making significant contribution to the development of the coal and oil industries in China, as well as the cause of the People’s revolution and liberation. He is one of the founders of the energy industry in China’s modern history.

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