HKU Business School garners record high UGC funding for research on the “Quantitative History of China”

  • HK$67.32 million (over US$8.5 million) of University Grant Committee investment into four research clusters on the Quantitative History of China
  • Best quantitative historians of China to examine key dimensions of how China and Hong Kong got to where they are: 1) ancient roots, 2) culture, 3) state capacity and institutions, and 4) finance, trade and Hong Kong’s rise
  • First interdisciplinary research team of HKU Business School to receive substantial funding from the Areas of Excellence Scheme

The HKU Business School (or the “School”) today announced that its interdisciplinary research project, coordinated by Professor Zhiwu Chen, was awarded HK$67.32 million (over US$8.5 million) by the Research Grants Council (RGC) under the University Grant Committee (UGC), alongside substantial funding from the University, totalling up to HK$74.8 million (over US$9.5 million). The funding amount marks a new record high for government funding raised for the School since its establishment in 2001. The research team comprises members and collaborators from five UGC-funded academic institutions, including The University of Hong Kong (HKU), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Lingnan University (Lingnan) and Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), together with scholars from Oxford University and Renmin University of China. Project team members are (listed in alphabetical order): Zhiwu Chen (Project Coordinator), Jed O. Kaplan, Angela K. C. Leung, Chen Lin and Chicheng Ma from HKU, Ying Bai (CUHK), Cameron Campbell (HKUST), Zhan Lin (Renmin), William Guanglin Liu (Lingnan) and Debin Ma (Oxford).

The research project titled “Quantitative History of China: Historical Roots of Recent Success and Future Development” has been awarded in the Areas of Excellence Scheme (Tenth Round). It aims to establish a new Centre for Quantitative History at the University of Hong Kong to serve as a focal institution for coordinating and conducting research on the “Quantitative History of China”, significantly advance knowledge on the Mainland’s and Hong Kong’s historical development, enhance teaching and learning, aid policymaker and improve business practices.

Professor Chen, Chair Professor and Cheng Yu-Tung Professor of Finance, said, “We are honoured to receive the Areas of Excellence Scheme award this year, a commitment to supporting our investigation of multiple dimensions of China’s past. Uniquely among nations, China has a wealth of historical and archaeological archives covering almost all aspects of society, from politics to business, law and regulation, crime and unrest, family and lineage, culture and customs, religion and social organisation and science. The digitalisation of these records offers quantitative historians an unprecedented opportunity to re-examine various aspects of China’s past. Given that Hong Kong is part of China and has a linguistic/cultural/human resources advantage, we are in the best position to develop a holistic quantitative history of China. We strongly believe that the new Centre for Quantitative History will make Hong Kong a global leader in quantitative history research.”

Professor Hongbin Cai, Dean of the School, said, “This important UGC funding demonstrates that the HKU Business School has always been positioned as the forefront of knowledge creation and the leading powerhouse of research in Asia with global impact. Members of this research team have published widely on the quantitative history of China, constructed key historical databases in recent years and conducted symposium for quantitative history to promote the proposed research approach each year since 2013. These promising research efforts on quantitative history being awarded funding will yield positive results in Greater China, and also put Hong Kong at the forefront of quantitative history research.”

Photo caption:
Professor Hongbin Cai (second right), the Dean of HKU Business School, shared the joy with some research team members, including Professor Zhiwu Chen, Project Coordinator, Chair Professor and Cheng Yu-Tung Professor of Finance (second left), Professor Chen Lin (first right), Associate Dean (Research and Knowledge Exchange) and Dr. Chicheng Ma (first left), Assistant Professor in Economics.

About the UGC Areas of Excellence Scheme
The Areas of Excellence (AoE) Scheme was launched by UGC in 1998. Up to 2022/23, a total of 30 AoE projects from various disciplines have been funded in ten rounds of funding exercise. Among them, 12 funded projects are led by HKU researchers with Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy led by Professor Y. C. Richard Wong, HKU Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chair Professor of Economics of the School being the first awardee. This year, two outstanding research proposals were awarded a total funding of over HK$162 million, with one led by HKU.

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