Xu Jianyin 1845-1901

Born in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, his scientific apprenticeship began when he accompanied his father to work at the Anking Arsenal, established in 1862. In 1866 they moved to the newly established Jiangnan Arsenal in Shanghai, where they worked with missionaries on the translation of texts on physics, chemistry and mechanical engineering. Xu's career developed independently after a transfer to the Tianjin Arsenal. In 1875 he successfully designed and built without foreign assistance a new plant in Shandong. In 1879 he was sent as Second Grade Attache to the Chinese legation in Berlin to assist in the purchase of ironclads from Britain or Germany. After China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-95, he published a number of books on military reform and was a supporter of Kang Youwei's reform movement, serving briefly as minister during the 1898 Hundred Days' Reform. He was killed in 1900 in an explosion in a gunpowder factory of which he was manager. Apart from Notes on Travels in Europe, his other publications include Charter of the German Parliament and A History of German Unification.