Xue Fucheng 1838-1894

A native of Wuxi, Jiangsu province, Xue was unsuccessful at the civil service examinations. At the age of twenty-seven he sent a long petition on reform to Zeng Guofan, which so impressed Zeng that he hired Xue as an aide. Xue worked under Zeng and, after Zeng's death, under other reform-minded officials as an assistant. He received his first official appointment in 1885, in the middle of the Sino-French conflicts. His success in pushing back the French naval forces at the port of Ningbo in Zhejiang brought him to the attention of those responsible for foreign affairs. In 1890 he was appointed minister to Britain, France, Italy and Belgium. Xue returned to China in mid-1894, after four-and-a-half years in Europe. He died in Shanghai shortly after his return, aged fifty-six. His works include Journal of Diplomatic Mission to Four European Countries and Journal of Diplomatic Mission: a Sequel.