Y.C. Hu and L.S. Ku – directors of Pao Hsing Cotton Mill

York Lo: Y.C. Hu and L.S. Ku – directors of Pao Hsing Cotton Mill

In the earlier article about Pao Hsing Cotton Mill, it was mentioned that two outside directors – Hu Ying-choi(Y. C. Hu) and Ku Lan-sun (L.S. Ku, misspelled as “Ku Han-sun” in the lawsuit) were recruited in 1953. Further research revealed that Hu and Ku were two rather distinguished figures of the Shanghainese diaspora in HK – Hu being a US educated civil engineer who worked for the KMT government in the mainland and Ku being a long-time executive for General Electric in the Far East.

Hu Ying-choi (胡英才, 1910-1989)

Born in 1910, Hu graduated from Chiao Tung University in Shanghai in 1932 with a B.S. in civil engineering. He then studied at Cornell University in New York, where he earned his M.S. in civil engineering in 1934 with the thesis “Analysis of Continuous Frames”.

After his graduation from Cornell, Hu returned to China where he worked for the city government of Nanking in the public works department. On August 10, 1935, Hu married Yeh Hsiao-hsiang (葉少裳), an accountant in the city’s land bureau in a high-profile group wedding of 33 couples in Nanking officiated by the mayorMa Chao-chun (馬超俊, 1886-1977). It was the first of many Western style group weddings under the New Life movement promoted by Madam Chiang Kai-shek. Mayor Ma later became the godfather of Hu and was financially supported by Hu in his later years in Taiwan.

Pao Hsing Cotton Mill Directors Image 1 York Lo

Left: picture of the group wedding of 33 couples in Nanking in 1935 – close-up portrait of Hu Ying-choi and Yeh Hsiao-hsiang are shown in the upper right; Right: Ma Chao-chun, the former mayor of Nanking and godfather of Hu Ying-choi

When the KMT regime moved to Taiwan in 1949, Hu did not follow and instead moved to Hong Kong where he and his wife achieved success in the construction business. Needing someone with US connections to help circumvent the embargo that was hurting his mill’s ability to procure cotton from and export yarn to the US, Yang Sen-hui invited Hu to join the board of Pao Hsing Cotton Millin 1953 and served on the board until 1971. In 1958, Hu co-founded Lung Hwa Lou (龍華樓), a Chinese restaurant at 588-590 Nathan Road in Mongkok with Peng Hsien-tsan with HK$1 million in capital. His address at incorporation was listed as 9 Wisteria Road in YauYatChuen. The restaurant did well initially and expanded but was forced to shut down in 1963 when its landlord jacked up the rent.Outside of work, Y.C. Hu was active with the Chiao Tung University Alumni Association of HK and became chairman of the group in 1962.He remained active with the group as honorary chairman until the 1980s and also remained close to Cornell which his son Dennis T. Hu and daughter Priscilla Hu also attended.

According to Cornell alumni bulletin, Y.C. Hu died in Happy Valley in June 1989.

Pao Hsing Cotton Mill Directors Image 2 York Lo

Left: Chiao Tung University Alumni Association of HK gathering in 1960 to celebrate the 64th anniversary of the school; Hu Ying-choi as vice chairman is third from the left in the front row, to the left of John S.L. Woo (architect, father of Wharf Group chairman Peter Woo) who was chairman (WKYP, 1960-4-12); Right: ad about the opening of Lung Hwa Lou in 1958 (WKYP, 1958-9-24)

Sources:

http://news.sina.com.cn/s/2006-03-26/09568532089s.shtml

Cornell Alumni News, September 1991, p.84

華僑日報, 1962-07-09; 香港工商日報, 1963-12-03

Ku Lan-sun (顧蘭蓀)

As mentioned in the article about Pao Hsing, the mill acquired its first 10,000 spindles in 1948 through the trading firm of Andersen Meyer(慎昌洋行), the distributor of GE and many other industrial products in China and HK. L.S. Ku was the manager of Andersen Meyer, first in Shanghai and later in Hong Kong responsible for its Far East operations.

According to shipping records, L.S. Ku was born in 1901. It is unclear as to when he joined Andersen Meyer, which was founded in Shanghai in 1902 by Danish merchants Ivan Andersen and Vilhelm Meyer (maternal grandfather of Christopher Bo Bramsen, Danish ambassador to China in the 1990s – for more info on the history of Andersen Meyer read the book written by Bramsen – Open Door- published in 2001). In 1907, Andersen Meyer became the distributor of General Electric’s products in China (it also represented over 170 other manufacturers including International Harvesters, Saco-Lowell, Sherwin-Williams) and in 1917, its HK branch was established. Its early refrigeration clients in HK included Dairy Farm, HK Hotel and the Peninsula Hotel and it also supplied textile machinery to pioneering HK garment manufacturers such as Kam Hing Knitting and Lee Man Hing Kwok. In 1934, Andersen Meyer became a wholly owned subsidiary of GE.

Pao Hsing Cotton Mill Directors Image 3 York Lo

Left: Picture and article about GE Far East manager L.S. Ku flying from HK to Saigon, Vietnam (WKYP, 1961-3-1); Right: logo of Andersen Meyer which was designed by the wife of Vilhelm Meyer

Pao Hsing Cotton Mill Directors Image 4 York Lo

Left: GE radio ad in HK in 1940 – Andersen Meyer is listed in the bottom; Right: Chinese ad promoting GE refrigerators in 1951 in HK – the triangular logo of Andersen Meyer is shown in the bottom with address listed as 67B Des Voeux Road Central. 

In the 1941 HK Jurors List, Ku was listed as assistant for Andersen Meyer with address at 6 Conduit Road. His name also appeared the same year in Who’s Who in Shanghai as Chinese manager of the firm at 21-43 Yuanmingyuan Road. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was the highest-ranking GE executive of Chinese descent in the Far East. Ku and his wife Si-mei Zee had at least four sons – David, Frank, Jack and Michael – all of whom settled in the US.

Pao Hsing Cotton Mill Directors Image 5 York Lo

GE CEO Philip D. Reed (first from the right) and his wife (third from right) at Kai Tak airport greeted by L.S. Ku (second from left), GE aircon and fridge distributor James Wu Man-hon (first from left) and the head of GE’s Far East operations and his wife (Kung Sheung Evening News, 1955-5-6)

Sources:

Andersen Meyer & Co of China: its History, its Organization Today ,(1931), Kelly & Walsh, p 138-140

http://obits.lohud.com/obituaries/lohud/obituary.aspx?n=david-c-koo&pid=162712390

https://gwulo.com/jurors-list-1941

http://mhdb.mh.sinica.edu.tw/mhpeople/result.php?peopleName=%E9%A1%A7%E5%A3%AB%E9%87%97&searchType=1

This article was first posted on 20th August 2018.

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