Wang Gungwu

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Wang Gungwu

Wang Gungwu - 20101125.jpg
Wang Gungwu speaking at an event in 2010
Born (1930-10-09) 9 October 1930 (age 91)
Alma materUniversity of Malaya
School of Oriental and African Studies
Known forVice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, University Professor of the National University of Singapore, Doyen of Overseas Chinese historical scholarship
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Malaya
Australian National University
University of Hong Kong
National University of Singapore
Doctoral advisorDenis C. Twitchett
Doctoral studentsHuang Jianli, Ng Chin-Keong

Wang Gungwu, AO, CBE (王赓武; 王賡武; Wáng Gēngwǔ; born 9 October 1930)[1] is an Indonesian-born Singaporean historian, sinologist, and writer. He is a historian of China and Southeast Asia.[2] He has studied and written about the Chinese diaspora, but he has objected to the use of the word diaspora to describe the migration of Chinese from China because both it mistakenly implies that all overseas Chinese are the same and has been used to perpetuate fears of a "Chinese threat", under the control of the Chinese government.[3] An expert on the Chinese tianxia ("all under heaven") concept, he was the first to suggest its application to the contemporary world as an American Tianxia.[4]


Wang was born in Surabaya, Indonesia to ethnic Chinese parents from Taizhou, Jiangsu and grew up in Ipoh, Malaysia. He completed his secondary education in Anderson School, an English medium school in Ipoh. Wang studied history in the University of Malaya, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. He was a founding member of the University Socialist Club and its founding president in 1953.[5]

He holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1957) for his thesis The structure of power in North China during the Five Dynasties. He taught at the University of Malaya (in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur). He was one of the founders of the Malaysian political party Gerakan, but he was not personally directly involved in the party's activities.[6] In 1968 he went to Canberra to become Professor of Far Eastern History in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS) at the Australian National University. He took a turn as Director of RSPAS, 1975-80. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong from 1986 to 1995. In 2007, Wang became the third person to be named University Professor by the National University of Singapore.[7]

In 1994, Wang was awarded the Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize by the Japanese city of Fukuoka.[2] On 12 June 2009, he was one of ten eminent persons to receive an honorary degree to celebrate Cambridge University's 800th anniversary;[8] he was awarded a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa).[9] In 2020 Wang was awarded the Tang Prize in Sinology.[10] He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order (Singapore) in August 2020.[11]

He is a naturalized Australian after 18 years of teaching there, yet he does not consider himself Australian because "both his understanding of Australia and the understanding of Australians about him had been superficial".[12]

Recent Awards and Accomplishments[edit]

The 2020 Tang Prize in Sinology was awarded to Professor Wang Gungwu by the Tang Prize Foundation. [13] According to the National University of Singapore, Professor Wang, who is "one of the world's foremost experts on the Chinese diaspora", was granted the prestigious award "in recognition of his trailblazing and dissecting insights on the history of the Chinese world order, overseas Chinese, and Chinese migratory experience".[13] The Straits Times reported that the Tang Prize Foundation praised his "unique approach to understanding China by scrutinising its long and complex relation with its southern neighbours".[14] The organisation, which is based in Taiwan, mentioned that his work has "significantly enriched the explanation of the Chinese people's changing place in the world, traditionally developed from an internalist perspective or relation to the West".[14] Professor Chen Kuo-tung of Taiwan's top think-tank Academia Sinica, highlighting the significance of Professor Wang Gungwu's works that merited the award, said that "Professor Wang's research filled a gap in Sinology, which is the study of Chinese overseas".[14]

In April 2021, Wang Gungwu was granted the Distinguished Service Order in Singapore.[15] Professor Wang, who was also the founding Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS and the former Chairman of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute and East Asian Institute (EAI), was acknowledged for his important capacity in "developing world-class research institutions in Singapore".[16] The award also recognised his publication of "pioneering works on the history of China, South-east Asia, and East Asia, as well as the Chinese diaspora in South-east Asia and Singapore, providing invaluable insights for policymakers".[16]

Positions held[edit]

Wang is a University Professor at the National University of Singapore and also Chairman of the Managing Board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He was the Director (1997-2006) and Chairman (2006-19) of the East Asian Institute in Singapore.[17] Wang was a Distinguished Professorial Fellow at the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute where he was chairman of the board of Trustees from 1 November 2002 to 31 October 2019.[18] He is also a Professor Emeritus of the Australian National University and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, elected in 1970[19] and serving as President from 1980-1983.[20]

Wang also Chairman of International Advisory Council in Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman.[21]

Selected publications[edit]


Wang Gungwu giving a talk at an event (Radio Malaya: Abridged Conversations About Art) in 2017.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Wang, Margaret (2020). Home is Where We Are. Ridge Books.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2019). China Reconnects: Joining a Deep-rooted Past to a New World Order. World Scientific Publishing
  • Wang, Gungwu (2018). Home is Not Here. National University of Singapore Press
  • Wang, Gungwu (2014). Another China Cycle: Committing to Reform. World Scientific. doi:10.1142/8824. ISBN 978-981-4508-91-9.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Zheng, Yongnian, eds. (2012). China: Development and Governance. World Scientific. doi:10.1142/8606. ISBN 978-981-4425-83-4.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2007). 离乡别土:境外看中华 (China and Its Cultures: From the Periphery). The Fu Ssu-nien Memorial Lectures 2005. Taipei: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2007). 中华文明と中国のゆくえ (Chinese Civilization and China's Position). The Ishizaka Lectures 2005. Translated by Kato, Mikio. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Wong, John, eds. (2007). Interpreting China's Development. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2007). Divided China: Preparing for Reunification, 883–947. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu, ed. (2005). Nation-building: Five Southeast Asian Histories. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2005). The Rising China and Its Immigrant. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2005). 移民及兴起的中国 (Essays on Migrants and China's Rise. World Scientific.
  • Benton, Gregor; Liu, Hong, eds. (2004). Diasporic Chinese Ventures: The Life and Work of Wang Gungwu. London: Routledge.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Ng, Chin-keong, eds. (2004). Maritime China in Transition, 1750–1850. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). Anglo-Chinese Encounters since 1800: War, Trade, Science and Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Abrams, Irwin, eds. (2003). The Iraq War and Its Consequences: Thoughts of Nobel Peace Laureates and Eminent Scholars. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu; de Crespigny, Rafe; de Rachewiltz, Igor, eds. (2003). Sino-Asiatica: Papers dedicated to Professor Liu Ts'un-yan on the occasion of his eighty-fifth birthday. Canberra: Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Zheng, Yongnian, eds. (2003). Damage Control: The Chinese Communist Party in the Jiang Zemin Era. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). Ideas Won't Keep: The Struggle for China's Future. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). Bind Us in Time: Nation and Civilisation in Asia. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). To Act is to Know: Chinese Dilemmas. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). Don't Leave Home: Migration and the Chinese. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). Only Connect! Sino-Malay Encounters. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2002). The Chinese Overseas: From Earthbound China to the Quest for Autonomy. The 1997 Edwin O. Reischauer Lectures. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674009868.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Zheng, Yongnian, eds. (2001). Reform, Legitimacy and Dilemmas: China's Politics and Society. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2000). Joining the Modern World: Inside and Outside China. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Wong, John, eds. (1999). China: Two Decades of Reform and Change. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu (1999). China and Southeast Asia: Myths, Threats, and Culture. World Scientific.
  • Wang, Gungwu; Wong, John, eds. (1998). China's Political Economy. World Scientific.


Book chapters, journal articles and papers[edit]

  • Wang, Gungwu (2009). "Family and Friends: China in Changing Asia". In Reid, Anthony; Zheng, Yangwen (eds.). Negotiating Asymmetry: China's Place in Asia. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press. pp. 214–231.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2009). "越洋寻求空间:中国的移民". International Journal of Diasporic Chinese Studies. 1 (1): 1–49.
  • Wang, Gungwu (June 2009). "Southeast Asia: Imperial themes". New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies: 36–48.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2008). "The China Seas: Becoming an Enlarged Mediterranean". In Schottenhammer, Angela (ed.). The East Asian 'Mediterranean': Maritime Crossroads of Culture, Commerce and Human Migration. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 7–22.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2008). "Flag, Flame and Embers: Diaspora Cultures". In Louie, Kam (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 115–134.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2008). "China and the International Order: Some Historical Perspectives". In Wang, Gungwu; Zheng, Yongnian (eds.). China and the New International Order. London: Routledge. pp. 21–31.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2008). "India and Indians in East Asia: an Overview". In Kesavapany K.; Mani, A.; Ramasamy P. (eds.). Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 3–11.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2008). "The Rise of China: History as Policy". In Huisken, Ron; Thatcher, Meredith (eds.). History as Policy: Framing the Debate on the Future of Australia. Canberra Papers of Strategy and Defence. Australian National University E Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2008). "南侨求学记:不同的时代,走不同的路". In Lee, Guan Kin (ed.). Crossing Borders and Cultural Adjustments. Singapore: Nanyang Technological University Centre for Chinese Language and Culture / World Scientific. pp. 13–28.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2008). "内与外的解析-论海外华人作家". Overseas Chinese Studies. 1: 1–10.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2007). "The First Decade: Historical Perspectives". In Yeung, Yue-man (ed.). The First Decade: The Hong Kong SAR in Retrospective and Introspective Perspectives. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. pp. 3–21.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2007). "Trading Order and Polity Structures in Asia". In Soesastro, Hadi; Joewono, Clara (eds.). The Inclusive Regionalist: A Festschrift dedicated to Jusuf Wanandi. Jakarta: Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). pp. 83–90.
  • Wang, Gungwu (December 2007). "The Great Powers in Asia: A View from Singapore". Strategy: Global Forces 2007 Proceedings. Canberra: Australian Strategic Policy Institute. 2: 1–8.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2007). "Liuxue 留学 and Yimin 移民: From Study to Migranthood". In Thuno, Mette (ed.). Beyond Chinatown: New Chinese Migration and the Global Expansion of China. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2007). "Mixing Memory and Desire: Tracking the Migrant Cycles". In Tan, Chee-Beng; Storey, Colin; Zimmerman, Julia (eds.). Chinese Overseas: Migration, Research and Documentation. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. pp. 3–22.
  • Baumler, Alan (2007). "Rethinking Chinese History in a Global Age: An Interview with Wang Gungwu". The Chinese Historical Review. 14 (1): 97–113. doi:10.1179/tcr.2007.14.1.97. S2CID 143891373.
  • Sinha, Vineeta (March 2007). "In Conversation with Wang Gungwu". ISA E-Bulletin (6): 54–80.
  • Wang, Gungwu (June 2007). "走向新的现代性:香港回归的历史视角 (Towards New Modernity: The Return of Hong Kong from a Historical Perspective)". 二十一世纪 (Twenty-First Century) (101): 4–12.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2006). "Inception, Origins, Contemplations: a Personal Perspective". Imagination, Openness & Courage: The National University of Singapore at 100. Singapore: National University of Singapore. pp. 1–31.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2006). "历史与知识:中西分类的差异 (History and Knowledge: Different Library Classifications in China and the West". In Pan, Mingxin (ed.). 南山论学集:钱存训先生九五生日纪念. Beijing: National Library. pp. 24–30.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2005). "China and Southeast Asia". In Shambaugh, David (ed.). Power Shift: China and Asia's New Dynamics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Wang, Gungwu (May 2005). "Within and Without: Chinese Writers Overseas". Journal of Chinese Overseas. 1 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1163/179325405788639292.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2005). "Two Perspectives of Southeast Asian Studies: Singapore and China". In Nordholt, Henk Schulte; Rabin, Remco; Kratoska, Paul (eds.). Discovering Southeast Asia: Genealogies, Concepts, Comparisons, and Prospects. Singapore / Athens, OH: Singapore University Press / Ohio University Press. pp. 60–81.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2005). "Maritime China in Transition". In Ng, Chin Keong; Wang, Gungwu (eds.). Maritime China and Overseas Chinese Communities in Transition, 1750–1850. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 3–16.
  • Wang, Gungwu (December 2004), The Age of New Paradigms, Keynote Lecture, 18th Conference of International Association of Historians of Asia, Asia-Pacific Forum, pp. 1–15
  • Wang, Gungwu (2004). "China's Long Road to Sovereignty". In Doeker-Mach, G.; Ziegert, K.A. (eds.). Law, Legal Culture and Politics in the Twentieth First Century. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 453–464.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2004). "The Cultural Implications of the Rise of China for the Region". In Ryosei, Kokubun; Wang, Jisi (eds.). The Rise of China and a Changing East Asian Order. Tokyo / New York: Japan Center for International Exchange. pp. 77–87.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2004). "Confucianism". In Richter, Frank-Jürgen; Mar, Pamela (eds.). Asia's New Crisis. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Wang, Gungwu (July–September 2003). "Secular China (Giri Deshingkar Memorial Lecture)". China Report. 39 (3): 305–321.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). "Social Bonding and Freedom: Problems of Choice in Immigrant Societies". In Charney, Michael; Yeoh, Brenda (eds.). Asian Migrants and Education in Immigrant Societies. Boston: Kluwer Academic. pp. 1–13.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). "The Limits of Decolonization". In Frey, Marc; Preussen, Ronald W.; Tan, Tay Yong (eds.). The Transformation of Southeast Asia: International Perspectives on Decolonization. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 268–273.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). "Chinese Political Culture and Scholarship about the Malay World". In Ding, Choo Ming (ed.). Chinese Studies of the Malay World: A Revaluation of a Scholarly Tradition. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press. pp. 12–30.
  • Wang, Gungwu (2003). "Reflections on Networks and Structures in Asia". In Curley, Melissa G.; Liu, Hong (eds.). China and Southeast Asia: Changing Social-cultural Interactions. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Centre of Asian Studies. pp. 13–26.

Additional media[edit]

Wang Gungwu

Wang discussed the demise of the Qing dynasty in China's Century of Humiliation.


  1. ^ "WANG, Gungwu". International Who's Who. Retrieved 1 September 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Wang Gungwu". Fukuoka Prize. 1994. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Asian Affairs interview with Wang Gungwu". Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  4. ^ Wang, Gungwu. "Wang Gungwu 王赓武 on Tianxia 天下". The China Story. Australian Centre on China in the World. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  5. ^ Loh, Kah S (2012). The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. p. 278. ISBN 978-9089644091.
  6. ^ Billy K.L. So, John Fitzgerald, Jianli Huang, James K. Chin (1 March 2003). Power and Identity in the Chinese World Order: Festschrift in Honour of Professor Wang Gungwu. Hong Kong University Press. p. 389. ISBN 978-9622095908.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Top NUS academic title for China expert, The Straits Times, Friday, 20 April 2007, Page H13". Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  8. ^ "The Chancellor in Cambridge to confer Honorary Degrees". University of Cambridge. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Congregation of the Regent House on 12 June 2009" (PDF). Cambridge University Reporter. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Sinology". Tang Prize. 20 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Recognised for longstanding service to Singapore". National University of Singapore. 10 August 2020.
  12. ^ "82岁华人教授王赓武: "复杂"并"简单"着". 12 November 2012. Archived from the original on 22 January 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Eminent NUS historian Professor Wang Gungwu receives prestigious Tang Prize". NUS News. NUS News. 22 June 2020. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  14. ^ a b c Sui Noi, Goh (21 June 2020). "NUS professor and historian Wang Gungwu awarded Tang Prize for Sinology for work on Chinese overseas". The Straits Times. The Straits Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Recognised for longstanding service to Singapore". NUS News. NUS News. 10 August 2020. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  16. ^ a b Yuen-C, Tham (4 April 2021). "Former senior minister S. Jayakumar heads list of 500 receiving National Day honours". The Straits Times. The Straits Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  17. ^ "East Asian Institute gets new leadership".
  18. ^ "Professor Wang Gungwu stepping down as ISEAS Chair; to be succeeded by Ambassador Chan Heng Chee". ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  19. ^ "The Fellowship at 31 March 1971". The Australian Academy of the Humanities Proceedings 1971 (1971): 18. 1971. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  20. ^ "[Frontispiece]". The Australian Academy of the Humanities Proceedings 1982-83: 2. 1984. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  21. ^ "UTAR International Advisory Council". Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahamn (UTAR). 20 December 2020.
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong
Succeeded by