Tang Prize winner calls for greater responsibility from Sinologists

09/22/2020 07:55 PM
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CNA photo Sept. 22, 2020
CNA photo Sept. 22, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) Wang Gungwu (王賡武), laureate of the 2020 Tang Prize in Sinology, called on Tuesday for greater responsibility from international Sinologists to work together to facilitate friendly cultural understanding between the Chinese and Western worlds.

Sinology has become more diverse due to the rise of China and related studies could be used either as a weapon for self-defense or intellectual offense, Wang said at the 2020 Tang Prize Master's Forum via a video conference from Singapore.

Originally an extension from oriental studies, which mainly served the needs of European powers, Sinology has evolved over time to cover subjects such as contemporary China and numerous social sciences, he said.

"A strong and ambitious China is now seen by the global superpower -- the U.S. -- as a threat to its supremacy," said the 89-year-old.

Wang, an Australian, was named as the 2020 Tang Prize Laureate in Sinology in June for his research into the Chinese world order, Chinese overseas and the Chinese migration experience.

It is therefore important for Sinologists to work together in a field of study in which it can be sensitive and difficult to defend the integrity of their profession while beating out the flames when biases are raised, he said.

These scholars should also capitalize on globalization, as it increases people's capacity to understand themselves, Wang said.

Wang enjoys a unique vantage point that affords distinctive insights into Chinese history, as he was born in Indonesia and educated in British Malaya and London, according to the Tang Prize Foundation.

Wang, who graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London and continued his academic career in Malaya, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, is recognized as an expert in the interpretation of how China views the world, the foundation said.

The 2020 Tang Prize Masters' Forum in Sinology is one of four forums being held over Monday and Tuesday in which winners of the 2020 Tang Prize speak about their views in their fields of expertise.

The Tang Prize is a biennial award established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), chairman of the Ruentex Group, to honor people who have made prominent contributions in four categories -- sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law.

Winners of the prize receive a cash award of NT$40 million (US$1.35 million) and NT$10 million for research funding, along with a gold medal and a certificate

The inaugural Sinology laureate was Yin-shih Yu (余英時), while William Theodore de Bary won the 2016 Sinology prize. In 2018, the prize was shared between Stephen Owen and Yoshinobu Shiba.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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