Rotary China History

Rotary has a long history in China that dates back to 1919 when the first club in China (and the second club in Asia) was chartered in Shanghai. This first English-language club was predominantly comprised of expatriate Americans and British, but it soon took on a very international flavour as it welcomed other nationalities to its roster including prominent local Chinese businessmen.

Rotary flourished in China before and after the war, and ultimately spawned 33 clubs throughout the mainland up to Liberation in 1949. After 1949 however it quickly became impossible for Rotarians to meet and so most members moved abroad and so the remaining clubs were formally disbanded by Rotary International in 1952.

Rotary Club of Shanghai

Originally chartered as club #545, the Shanghai club was chartered on 1 October, 1919. 

Below is a brief video made to celebrate 90 years since Rotary Club of Shanghai was established.


ROTARY CLUB OF TIANJIN (TIENTSIN)

The Tianjin club was chartered 10 May, 1923. Tianjin at that time was a very busy treaty port with a sizeable expatriate community.

 

Rotary Club of Beijing (PEIPING) 

The Beijing (Peiping) club was chartered five years after Shanghai on 30 August 1924 and was the third club chartered in China after Tianjin. 

 

Rotary Club of Suzhou

Suzhou club was chartered 11 November, 1936.


Rotary Club of Chengdu (CHENGTU)

The Chengdu (Chengtu) club was the 25th club chartered in China and was established during the war years on 2 January 1939. Most likely many of the charter members of the Chengdu club were Rotarians from the coastal cities then under Japanese occupation.


Full List of CHINA Clubs

Before 1949 Rotary had established 32 Rotary clubs as you can see below sorted alphabetically and chronologically.

Alphabetical List

Beijing    1924 August 30
Changsha    1937 June 28
Chengdu    1939 January 2
Chongqing    1937 November 18
Fuzhou    1933 July 31
Guangdong    1932 April 25
Guilin    1944 June 16
Guiyang    1945 April 23
Hangzhou    1932 June 23
Hankou    1933 December 20
Jinan    1932 December 9
Jingjiang    1937 April 2
Kaifeng    1936 May 13
Kunming    1937 May 28
Lanzhou    1943 November 11
Liuzhou    1948 December 14
Nanchang    1948 March 29
Nanjing    1934 January 19
Ningbo    1936 September 2
Qingdao    1932 December 5
Shanghai    1919 October 1
Shanghai West    1948 November 16
Shantou    1936 May 21
Shenyang    1948 March 31
Suzhou    1936 November 11
Tianjin    1923 May 10
Wuchang    1937 March 8
Wuhu    1936 February 6
Wuxi    1937 June 16
Wuzhou    1936 May 22
Xiamen    1933 October 23
Xian    1937 August 30

Chronological List

Shanghai    1919 October 1
Tianjin    1923 May 10
Beijing    1924 August 30
Guangdong    1932 April 25
Qingdao    1932 December 5
Jinan    1932 December 9
Hangzhou    1932 June 23
Hankou    1933 December 20
Fuzhou    1933 July 31
Xiamen    1933 October 23
Nanjing    1934 January 19
Wuhu    1936 February 6
Kaifeng    1936 May 13
Shantou    1936 May 21
Wuzhou    1936 May 22
Suzhou    1936 November 11
Ningbo    1936 September 2
Jingjiang    1937 April 2
Xian    1937 August 30
Wuxi    1937 June 16
Changsha    1937 June 28
Wuchang    1937 March 8
Kunming    1937 May 28
Chongqing    1937 Novenber 18
Chengdu    1939 January 2
Lanzhou    1943 November 11
Guilin    1944 June 16
Guiyang    1945 April 23
Liuzhou    1948 December 14
Nanchang    1948 March 29
Shenyang    1948 March 31
Shanghai West    1948 November 16


Historical Archives

PP Herbert Lau is our lead China Historian who has over many years researched in depth the history of the clubs in greater China (PRC, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan). Herbert is happy to share his knowledge and drip feeds us interesting tidbits from time to time.

We have placed historical archives for Rotary China into a shared folder on Box.com that is viewable by all. You may view this collection inline below or with this browser link. We also have initiated a "History" project on Basecamp which you are welcome to join - just ask.

If you have something to contribute to the history archives - then send us a note so we can invite you to join as a collaborator. 

 

Researching the history of Rotary in China is an ongoing process - so stay tuned for more developments.

If you are interested about the history of Rotary in general, you may contact the history department of Rotary International at: history@rotary.org.