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An Expert on Southeast Asian and Overseas Chinese Studies--Professor Zhuang Guotu

XMUICE    Public:ICE    Datetime:2010/6/25
Professor Zhuang Guotu is a leading figure in Southeast Asian studies and studies of the overseas Chinese and an academic authority of high repute. His work Relations between Overseas Chinese and China was the first monograph in the area of overseas Chinese studies to be granted the title of National Excellent Research Achievement on Humanities and Social Sciences. He is one of the most productive scholars and most-frequently quoted authors; he has chaired a number of major research projects at both national and provincial levels; he speaks several foreign languages and is a visiting professor in the US, the Netherlands, Japan and Southeast Asia.

Apart from his academic achievements, he is considered an outstanding administrator under whose leadership the Xiamen University School of International Relations has made exemplary progress. Every professor or associate professor in the School is running at least one or two research projects with grants worth tens of thousands of RMB. The School´s programme taught in English is giving a lead to other English programmes in the university, thanks to its distinct advantages as a discipline and has generated a good reputation for Xiamen University. It was on the strength of his great contributions to the School that he won a recent election to continue as Dean of the School by a substantial majority.

Professor Zhuang is a friendly person who maintains close relations with many well-known fellow researchers both in China and abroad. He is a member of the Experts Committee under the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, and has proposed a number of important suggestions and authored major consultant´s reports. He is known for his far-sightedness and his sharp but humorous language style.

Such is Professor Zhuang Guotu: Dean of Xiamen University School of International Relations, Distinguished Professor of Xiamen University, doctoral student supervisor in History and Politics, Director of the Xiamen University Centre of Malaysian Studies, Chairman of Southeast Asian Studies Project of the National 985 Social Sciences Innovation Platform, a highly-respected and brilliant scholar with an honest, straightforward and friendly personality.

Untiring Academic Pursuit

Professor Zhuang was born in 1952. He received his doctorate in history from Xiamen University in 1989. From 1986, he was invited to be a visiting professor and researcher by Leiden University and the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences and the International Institute for Asian Studies in the Netherlands, Universit+ degli studi di Napoli "L´Orientale" in Italy, the City University of New York, Ritsumeikan University and Kyoto University in Japan, National Chi Nan University and Tokai University in Taiwan and City University of Hong Kong. Prof. Zhuang is a member of the Ministry of Education Council of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Director of the Department of Comprehensive Affairs, and member of the Expert Committee under the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council.

His studies for many years have concentrated on the history of China´s international relations and on the Overseas Chinese. He has written over 70 papers in Chinese, and has published nearly 20 papers in major international journals and magazines such as Ritsumeikan International Affairs, Asia Insights, Rethinking Chinese Transnational Enterprises, Asian Affairs, IIAS Newsletter, Chinese Diaspora, The Encyclopedia of Chinese Overseas, Series of Changing Structure of Contemporary China, Journal of Minqing Studies. He has also published papers in Japanese in Modern Chinese International Relations, International Relation Studies and others. In his 20 years of research, he has published 4 books and edited more than ten other books of various kinds. On November 19th 2009, the Guangming Daily published a detailed review of his book The Establishment and Development of Chinese Society in Southeast Asia: Overseas Chinese Businessman Net, Immigrants and Trend of Integration published that month, and the Asahi News called him "Chinese representative of Overseas Chinese Studies" in an article on November 12th 2009.

Constructing a "National Team" for Southeast Asian Studies with an international perspective

Prof. Zhuang refers to the Xiamen University Centre for Southeast Asian Studies as a "national team" for Southeast Asian and Overseas Chinese studies, and an internationally competitive academic group constructed with an international perspective. The Centre currently has co-operative relations and exchanges with over 20 international academic organisations including Leiden University, Universit+ degli studi di Napoli "L´Orientale" in Italy, the University of Manchester in the UK, New York University and the University of North Carolina in the US, Chonnam National University in South Korea, and Kyoto University and Nihon University in Japan.

The Centre for Southeast Asian Studies is one of the most international schools of Xiamen University, for which international co-operation and exchanges are a primary driving force for development. The School has taken full advantage of various international funds to encourage overseas studies and research among its academic staff, doctoral students and outstanding master students. All the academic staff of the School have overseas experience, and over 10% of them have a doctorate from an overseas university. Furthermore, the School requires every teacher under the age of 50 to have a command of at least two foreign languages.

The School of International Relations has held one or two international seminars, with English as the language, every year for the last few years. With the aim of enhancing the School´s reputation and influence internationally, Professor Zhuang has paid several visits to Malaysia, Japan and Singapore to give lectures which were covered by mainstream media including the Asahi News, United Morning News, Christian Science Monitor, World Journal, Sin Chew Daily, and the Xin Hui Dian. The Centre for Asian Studies has also held a number of large-scale international seminars each year, inviting internationally renowned experts to give papers and take part in academic exchanges. In October 2009, it held a successful international seminar on "Southeast Asian Integration: Immigrants and their influences" attended by over 40 experts from the UK, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and China. The seminar was covered by major domestic media organisations, including China National Radio, China News, Haixia Daobao, Xiamen Economic Daily, Xiamen Evening News, Xinhua Net, People´s Daily Online, Guangming Net, Taihai Net, CRI Online, and

Professor Zhuang believes, "We should deal with our international partners in a scientific and honest manner, and be competent and proficient in carrying out our co-operative duties, to be able to create a win-win situation."

An honest person, and a diligent researcher

Professor Zhuang told us, "What is important for us is an honest and serious attitude, both in life and in academic research. A down-to-earth attitude is vital, fundamental for scientific development; plagiarism, dishonesty and self-aggrandisement are rampant in the academic world, and they are totallycontrary to scientific development.". Asa member of Ministry of EducationCouncil of Humanities and Social Sciencesand Director of the Department ofComprehensive Affairs, he has raised theseissues several times in various seminars and conferences. He stresses the importance of honesty and a down-to-earth attitude in research, a principle which the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies has adhered to for years. They are vital factors behind the years of close relations between the Centre and its many international academic partners.

As a teacher, he does not only see himself as a role-model, but sets strict requirements for his students. "Our students should first-of-all be caring; no matter how great their future achievements may be, they should always keep in mind the well-being of those underprivileged groups, which is important for the development of interpersonal relations and of a harmonious society. Secondly, a critical mind is important for students if they are to know how to examine popular beliefs and challenge authorities. Our students must have both the capability to carry outadvanced research and theoretical studies as well as the basic skills needed to make a living."

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