Zuo Binglong, First Consul to Singapore

Zuo Binglong, first Consul to Singapore

Zuo Binglong (左秉隆, 1850-1924), was the first Consul to Singapore appointed by the Qing imperial court. Born in the Plain Yellow Banner of the Han Eight Banners, he first serve as an official in charge of Guangzhou’s defence.

He was intelligent since young, well versed in both manchurian and chinese languages, he also went to the School of Combined Learning (同文馆) at the age of 15 to study English and Mathematics, in the 2nd year of Guangxu reign (1876), he was appointed as a lecturer in the school.

In 4th year of Guangxu reign, Zuo Binglong followed Zeng Jize (a reknown diplomat of the Qing Dynasty) on a diplomatic mission trip to Britain and France, he served as a translator, which he gained important experiences as a foreign affairs official, before appointed as the diplomat to Singapore in August 1881.

He served selflessly for the overseas chinese, work hard to protect and ensure their welfare, as well as promoting education and setting up schools for them. He also started societies, organised english debate competitions, igniting their interest for enlightenment to modern society.

Hokkien Street, Chinatown, Singapore, 1900.

Zuo Binglong was also commendated for showing care and concern for the overseas chinese, cracking down on illegal sale of cheap labours, protecting women, and tacking the pirates problem in the region.

In 1903, 29th year of Guangxu reign, he was relieved of his duties and set on the journey back to China, Singaporeans presented him with the rare wan min san and the tablet of Zhengde as appreciation. 2 years later, the Qing imperial court appointed 5 ministers to study the political system in the Japan and the western powers, Zuo Binglong was made the first secretary of the consulate team.

They travelled to United States, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Italy, Oxford University bestowed him an Honorary Degree. Zuo Binglong was again appointed as Chief Consul to Singapore in 1907.

After his resignation in 1910 2nd year of Xuantong reign, he continued to reside in Singapore for 6 years, then he migrated to Hong Kong, before settling down back in Guangzhou. He died in 1924.

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