Jitang Chen (aka Chi-Tong Chan) was a Chinese warlord called “King of the Southern Skies” in the 1920s for his work to industrialize southern China. Chen built water and power supplies, roads, bridges and over 200 light to heavy manufacturing plants. His air force was stronger than the rest of Nationalist China combined. Jitang Chen was a rare historical figure celebrated by both the Nationalist and Communist regimes. He was credited for benefitting common citizens under his rule by successfully attracting foreign investment and technology: the same strategy that present day developing China is putting into action for its success today.
Most warlords during Jitang’s period exploited those they ruled over, giving them no relief for famines, floods or other crises. A pivotal point of Chen’s leadership was when he renounced violence and dedicated his life to city planning. Chen had a two-part vision to modernize China. The first was to transform Canton City into a model hi-tech industrial Chinese city that would protect its citizens with infrastructure development, social services, hospital care, education and other city resources. The second part of Jitang’s vision was to scale his hi-tech city model throughout China. His rule became characterized by high economic development and hope amongst his people.
Unfortunately, the rise of communism caused interrupted execution of the second part of Jitang’s vision. Today, Jitang’s legacy lives on in the form of the International Technological University. Created by Jitang’s son Dr. Shu-Park Chan in 1994, the International Technological University grew from a student body of 18 during 1994-1995, to 1,123 during the 2010-2011 school year. Professor Chan’s first goal, to establish ITU as a model of hi-tech university education, has been achieved. The next milestone of ITU’s history will be to scale its model throughout the world to support and build developing countries with educational resources and technologies.