Qian Zhengying (1923—)

views updated

Qian Zhengying (1923—)

Chinese engineer and politician. Born of Han nationality in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, in July 1923 (Uglow claims place of birth was the United States); graduate of Department of Civil Engineering of Datong University, Shanghai; married Huang Xinbai (former vice minister of education); children: three.

Official Chinese biographers place Qian Zhengying's birth in Jiaxing, Zhejian Province, while Jennifer Uglow claims that she was born in the United States in 1923 and returned with her family to China when she was still an infant. All agree that, encouraged by her father, a civil engineer who had studied water conservancy at Cornell University, she became one of her country's first women engineers, graduating from Datong University, Shanghai.

Qian became active in revolutionary politics in Shanghai as early as 1937, and in 1941 became secretary of an underground Communist group there. When the underground organizations of the Communist Party of China (CPS) were undermined that September, Qian left Shanghai and moved to the Huaibei liberated zone. In 1944, as the Huaibei River rose suddenly and broke its dykes, Qian began working in flood relief there. She would spend the rest of her life harnessing rivers throughout China and tackling technical problems at the sites of all major hydropower projects. She served as section chief of the Bureau of Water Conservancy under the Jiangsu-Anhui Regional government, director of the Front Engineering Division of the Department of Army Service Station of East China Ministry Command (1945–48), party secretary and deputy director of Bureau of Shadong Yellow River Management (1948–50); deputy head of the Department of Water Conservancy under the East China Military Administrative Committee and concurrently deputy head of the Engineering Department under the Committee for Harnessing Huai River (1950–52). After 35 years as an engineer, Qian became vice minister and then minister of Water Conservancy, a top position in her field, particularly for a woman. She served in that position from 1952 to 1988. Qian was elected and reelected vice chair of the 7th to 9th CPPCC National Committees (1988, 1993, and 1998). She was also a member of the 10th through 14th CPC Central Committees. She was awarded the China Engineering Science and Technology prize in June 2000.


Uglow, Jennifer S., ed. The International Dictionary of Women's Biography. NY: Continuum, 1985.