Yui, David Z. T. [Yu Jih-Chang; Yu Rizhang] (1882-1936)

Longtime Leader of the Chinese YMCA and of the National Christian Council.

Yu_RizhangA Hupeh (Hubei) pastor’s son, Yui studied at the Episcopal schools of Boone (Wuchang) and St. John’s University (Shanghai) before receiving a Harvard M.S. in education in 1910. From 1911 to 1916 he held a variety of increasingly visible posts in education, journalism, and government. His affiliation with the YMCA began in 1913, and in 1916 he became secretary-general, a post he held until 1932.

Under Yui’s energetic direction, the YMCA grew rapidly until the mid-1920s, when, despite its record of Chinese leadership, it was hard hit by nationalistic critics. Yui led the organization through these stresses, but at great cost to his own health. Meanwhile his talents carried him into issues far beyond the YMCA. He was one of two private Chinese observers at the Washington Conference on disarmament (1921-1922), and in 1922 he led a successful movement to raise funds to redeem Chinese railroads from Japanese control. When the ecumenical National Christian Council was formed in 1922, Yui became its first chairperson; the balancing of competing interests in this Sino-foreign body took all his tact and flair for mediation. Yui also helped to found, and was first chair of, the Institute of Pacific Relations, an important scholarly forum; and he played a prominent role at the 1928 Jerusalem meeting of the International Missionary Council.

In the United States to rally American opinion after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, Yui suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in early 1933 and was incapacitated until his death. Yui always believed in nation building through individual Christian character, and he saw the YMCA as an instrument of China’s national, as well as individual, development.

Daniel H. Bays, “Yui, David Z.T. (or Yu Jih-Chang; Yu Rizhang),” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 757.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


Digital Texts

Yui, David Z. T. Nationalism and Internationalism: An Address Before the Rotary Club of Shanghai, November 26, 1926Shanghai: n.p., 1926.

_____. “Cooperation from the West.” In China Her Own Interpreter: Chapters by a Group of Nationals Interpreting the Christian Movement. Edited by Milton Stauffer. New York: Student Volunteer Movement, 1927.


Yui, David Z. T. Present Tendencies in the Chinese Y.M.C.A. Shanghai: Young Men’s Christian Association, [1924].

_____. Christianity and Politics: An Address Before the Sunday Service in English. Shanghai: Young Men’s Christian Association, 1926.


Boorman, Howard L. and Richard Howard, eds. Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, vol. 4. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.

Garrett, Shirley. Social Reformers in Urban China: The Chinese YMCA, 1895-1927. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.

Jun Xing. Baptized in the Fire of Revolution: The American Social Gospel and the YMCA in China, 1919-1937. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 1996.


Yu Rizhang. Public Domain.