Chang, Peng-Chun

Peng-Chun Chang was a Chinese playwright, philosopher, as well as diplomat and active member of the Drafting Committee. Chang was the head of the Chinese UN delegation and became the vice chairman of the Drafting Committee. He graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. form Teacher’s College in 1924. This former professor of Nankai University was known to have a strong background in the teachings of Confusius.


Dr. P.C. Chang of China effectively represented an Asian perspective in the senior ranks of the Commission on Human Rights, where he served as Vice-Chairman. But Chang’s presence on the Commission on Human Rights was significant not only because he was able to relate Chinese conceptions of human rights to the other delegates. He creatively resolved many stalemates in the negotiation process by employing aspects of Confucian doctrine to reach compromise between conflicting ideological factions.

He believed the debate over which rights the Declaration of Human Rights would encompass should be a unifying experience for the nations involved, and that each delegate should work not to diminish the conflicting positions of others, but rather to embrace them. He often invoked humor and common sense to advance the dialogue, employing persuasive Chinese proverbs, such as "Sweep the snow in front of one’s door; overlook the frost on others’ roof tiles."

Although born in China, Chang received his higher education in the U.S. He earned his undergraduate degree from Clarke University and Doctoral degree from Columbia University, where he specialized in Chinese studies. Despite his experience in the West, Chang remained intellectually committed to the values learned from Asian culture, tradition, and philosophy. Indeed, his time spent in the U.S. would help him represent China and the Asian viewpoint more effectively, for he was comfortable with Western diplomats and fluent in English. Thus, he served both as an effective Chinese delegate and a strong Asian voice among the Commission members.