Ambrose King

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Ambrose Y.C. King
Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
In office
Chancellor Tung Chee-hwa
Preceded by Arthur Li
Succeeded by Lawrence Lau
Personal details
Born (1935-02-14) 14 February 1935 (age 80)
Alma mater Cheng Kung Senior High School
National Taiwan University (BA)
National Chengchi University (MA)
University of Pittsburgh (MA, PhD)
Occupation Professor of sociology
Honorary Degrees Hon DLitt (HKUST)

Ambrose King Yeo-chi, SBS, JP (Chinese: 金耀基; born 14 February 1935) is a Hong Kong sociologist, educator, writer and academic. He was formerly vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

Personal life[edit]

Ambrose King received most of his education in Taiwan. He graduated from Taipei Municipal Chenggong Senior High School, earned a B.A from National Taiwan University and M.A. degree in political studies from National Chengchi University. Then he went to the United States and earned his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970.


After earning his PhD, he joined the Department of Sociology of CUHK in 1970. In 1974, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer, in 1979 to Reader and in 1983 Professor of Sociology in CUHK. From 1977 to 1985, he served as Head of New Asia College and in 1989 he became Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university before succeeding Arthur Li. In 2002 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, and retired in 2004. He is now a Professor of Sociology in the CUHK, teaching the course Individual and Society.

King has written essays; Cambridge Musings (1977), Heidelberg Musings (1986) and Ever in my Heart (2005). He is also a calligrapher.

Research focus and contributions[edit]

His research interest are modernisation and modernity of China, and the role of tradition in social-cultural transformation. He employed the theoretical framework of Max Weber to study the development of Chinese culture in the process of modernisation. He also tried to measure the costs and benefits of modernisation after the breakdown of the old Chinese dynastic orders and clan systems in the late 19th century.

He wrote theses on Hong Kong society, including The Administrative Absorption of Politics in Hong Kong (1975), which argued that the British cooptation of local elites would lead to "synarchy",a form of joint rule; Social Life and Development in Hong Kong (1985); The Special Character of Hong Kong's Polity and its Democratic Prospects (1987); One Country, Two Systems: An Idea on Trial (1995); and Hong Kong: A City with the Most Traits of Modernity in Chinese Societies (2000). He held that to understand Hong Kong, one cannot overlook two important threads, namely, colonial rule and capitalism. He is famous for the administrative absorption politics model (行政吸納政治) he introduced in 1975.

When he visited Cambridge University in 1975, he wrote his first essay on university education, entitled Two Cultures and Technological Humanism.

In 1983 he published The Idea of a University, a work that was the fruit of many years of reflection and study. In 1994, he was elected a Fellow of Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and in the following years he has been honoured by many universities.

Selected works[edit]

  • The Idea of University (大學之理念), 2001, London: Oxford University Press
  • Chinese Politics and Culture (中國政治與文化), 1997, London: Oxford University Press
  • State Confucianism and Its Transformation: The Restructuring of the State-Society Relation in Taiwan and The Transformation of Confucianism in the Post-Confucian Era: The Emergence of Rationalistic Traditionalism in Hong Kong
    "Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity", 1996, edited by Tu Wei-ming. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  • Chinese Society and Culture (中國社會與文化), 1992, London: Oxford University Press
  • From Traditional to Modernised (從傳統到現代), 1992, London: Oxford University Press
  • Administrative Absorption of Politics in Hong Kong: Emphasis on the Grass Roots Level, Asian Survey, Vol. 15, No. 5 (May 1975), pp. 422–439, University of California Press


See also[edit]


Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Li
Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Lawrence Lau