Born Johan Henrik August Bielenstein in Stockholm, Sweden, Bielenstein studied history and oriental studies at the Stockholm University under the tutelage of the renowned Bernhard Karlgren. He earned his master's degree in 1945 and his licentiate in 1947.
In 1952, Bielenstein was appointed head of the School of Oriental Languages in Canberra University College in Canberra, Australia (since 1960 part of Australian National University). Bielenstein was the first professor of modern or classical Chinese language anywhere in Australia. In 1961 he moved to Columbia University in New York City, where he became head of the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures in 1969, and retired from teaching as Dean Lung Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies in 1988. He remains a Swedish subject.
Bielenstein's area of concentration is the administrative and economic history of early imperial China from the Han Dynasty to the Song Dynasty. Along with the works of Michael Loewe, Bielenstein's Bureaucracy of Han Times (1980) is one of the most important English-language works on the government of the Han Dynasty.
- "The Restoration of the Han Dynasty, with Prolegomena on the Historiography of the Hou Han Shu". Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (Stockholm). 4 vols. BMFEA 26: 1–209. 1954; 31: 1–287. 1959; 39:1–198. 1967; 51: 1–300. 1979.
- "Further comments on the use of statistics in the study of Han Dynasty portents". Journal of the American Oriental Society 97 (2): 185–187. April–June 1977. doi:10.2307/599008. Co-authored with Nathan Sivin.
- The Bureaucracy of Han Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1980. ISBN 978-0-521-22510-6.
- Diplomacy and Trade in the Chinese World, 589–1276. Leiden: Brill. 2005. ISBN 90-04-14416-1.
- Canberra University College Structure 1930–1960, Australian National University, 2006
- Bielenstein, Hans (Feb 1962). "News of the profession". The Journal of Asian Studies 21 (2): 257–261. doi:10.1017/s0021911800110939.
- Lopez, Joshua, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University: Department history, Columbia University
This article incorporates material from the German language Wikipedia.