History of the Centre of Asian Studies

The Centre of Asian Studies

The Centre of Asian Studies (CAS) was first established in 1967 to provide a focal point for The University of Hong Kong in the fields of Contemporary and Traditional Chinese Studies, Hong Kong Studies and East, South and South-east Asian Studies. The Centre had a long history, strong reputation and distinguished profile locally and internationally, especially among peers in the field of Asian Studies. The work of the Centre was led by three outstanding scholars who served as directors in the period 1967-2009. Professor Frank H. H. King served as the Founding Director (1968–1979), and was succeeded first by Professor Edward K. Y. Chen (1979–1995) and then Professor Wong Siu-lun (1995–2009).

The Centre’s three flagship programmes defined its core activities: The China-ASEAN Project, China-India Project and the Hong Kong Culture and Society Programme. Beyond these, the Centre conducted research on Chinese entrepreneurship, migration and human trafficking, diaspora studies, East Asian regionalism, oral history, Asian business history, Chinese intellectual policies and the quality of life in Hong Kong and Macao. The Centre performed an important role as an inter-disciplinary unit bringing together staff and research students across the University to encourage group research and to form a link with the teaching function by enriching the courses offered. Postgraduate seminars were held regularly for students to share their research findings with their colleagues and to broaden their intellectual horizons through contact with other subjects, methodologies and ideas.


Year Event
1967 Establishment of the Centre of Asian Studies at the Old Library Building.
1968 Professor Frank H.H. King as Founding Director (1968-1979).
1973 CAS office was relocated to Knowles Building from the Old Library Building.
  • Publishing programmes of occasional papers and monographs series.
  • Archival collection of the cultural history of Guangdong, such as “wooden fish books”, “nam yam”, ballad, song and puppet theatre, Chinese medicine, mediumship and fung-shui books.
1979 Professor Edward K.Y. Chen as Director (1979-1995).
  • Three seminar programmes : “Contemporary Chinese Studies”, “Traditional Chinese Studies” and “Southeast Asian Studies”, were established.
  • CAS took over from HKU Press the publication of Journal of Oriental Studies, starting from Volume XVIII (1980).
1981-82 The fourth seminar programme “Hong Kong Studies” was established.
  • CAS office was relocated to Tang Chi Ngong Building from Knowles Building.
  • The Hang Seng Bank Golden Jubilee Education Fund for Research was established with an endowment fund from the Hang Seng Bank to support the Centre’s academic activities.
1984 Series of Brown Bag Lunch-time Colloquiums was launched.
1991 CAS began to admit research postgraduate students working in the field of Asian Studies.
1995 Dr. C.Y. Sin as Acting Director (September 1995 - February 1996).
  • Professor Wong Siu-lun as Director (1996-2009).
  • CAS undertook a project on the history of the Hong Kong Stock Market commissioned by the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Yuk-yee Sinn as part-time Deputy Director (1997-98).
  • The “China-ASEAN Project” and the “Hong Kong Culture and Society Programme” were launched.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Yuk-yee Sinn as full-time Deputy Director (1998-2004).
  • The 3-year project on “Creative Learning and Hong Kong Culture and Society” was launched with a grant from UGC’s Teaching Development Grant scheme and a matching fund from HKU.
  • CAS undertook consultancies studies on the Socio-Economic-Political Trends in the Southeast Asian Countries for the Central Policy Unit of the HKSAR Government.
2000 “Bridging China and India: Hong Kong as the Key Link Project” sponsored by the HKU Foundation for Educational Development and Research was launched.
  • Broadening courses on “China and Asia in the 21st Century”, “The Way We Grew Up – A Personal Study of Hong Kong Culture and Identity” and “A Carnival of Gods – A Study of Contemporary Religions in Hong Kong” for undergraduate students were jointly offered with Faculty of Social Sciences.
  • The fifth seminar programme “Northeast Asian Studies” was established.
2005 The publication of Journal of Oriental Studies was transferred to Department of Chinese (HKU) and Centre of Chinese Language and Cultural Studies (Stanford University).
  • CAS was merged into Faculty of Social Sciences with effect from the academic year 2006-2007.
  • The Centre commenced an undergraduate teaching programme “Summer Studies Institute” on Asian Studies in Hong Kong and the region in partnership with Faculty of Social Sciences and the Office of the International Student Exchange (2006-2008).
  • Hong Kong Memory Project funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club was launched.
2007 A broadening course on “Collective Memory: Unity and Diversity in Hong Kong Community” was jointly offered with the Faculty of Social Sciences.
2009 CAS migrated from Faculty of Social Sciences to Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.


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