Events & Seminars

HKUST Public Humanities Lectures
115th Lecture – Global Balance Tilted West: Major Factors for China’s ‘Decline’ vs Rise of the West in Modern Times [第一百一十五講] 近世中西勢力平衡更迭的重要因素


The presentation will attempt interpreting China’s general “decline” in modern times vis-à-vis the rise of the West by examining major factors in Chinese economy, business, diplomacy, military, socio-culture, thought and politics which deemed to have led China onto a path different from that in Europe, particularly from the 15th century or Europe’s “Age of Discovery”; and how this saw the tilting of global balance in favour of the West in modern times.


China’s unique development direction since ancient days was largely affected by its geopolitical features, the bent of its socio-political structure & assumptions, values & beliefs, response to economic challenges and its readiness (or unpreparedness) to address new questions. This talk focuses on concise findings rather than narration on details. Notable issues discussed include, e.g., how China might have “missed” certain opportunity for economic transformation (or modernization), how distinct political tradition in China differed from Europe in immigration, diplomacy and military and related matters etc. and all these led to the “Decline of China” amidst Europe’s rise.


One conclusion of the presentation is that, most ironically, China had unmatched supremacy in most aspects of dominance and power at around the 15th century but, owing to a combination of reasons, all had eventually been overtaken by Europeans who went on to dominate the modern world.



Danny S. Paau, Professor Emeritus & former Head of History at Shue Yan University, served as Adjunct Professor in Humanities at HKUST in Spring, 2017. He had served as Professor & Head of History at Baptist University, and also Research Director at David C. Lam Institute of East-West Studies there.


He contributed to the academia and community with editorial duties at academic journals including the Comparative Civilization Review (USA), Sino-Humanitas etc; advisory or leadership roles in organizations including the United Nations Association of China, The Chinese National Research Society of Modern World History etc. He also served as senior fellow and guest chairs in leading academic institutions including Zhongshan University, Center of Comparative Study of Civilizations (CASS) and had served as academic assessor for candidates for, say, the Fulbright Scholars Program, promotion to professorial rank as well as entries to prestigious publications by the Academia Sinica (Taipei). Among his academic output are 11 books, over 60 articles, and over 160 invited lectures at local and overseas institutions. The books he wrote include《文明的憧憬﹕近代中國對民族與國家的追尋Own English title: Visions of Civilization: The Search for National Models in Modern China》published by CUHK; 《西方史學的東方迴響 Own English Title: Clio From the West: Eastern Echoes of Western Historiography》published by CASS; Reunification with China: Hong Kong Academics Speak and several edited volumes on the interaction of China and the World. For his scholarly performance, he had received the President’s Award for Outstanding Performance at Baptist University.


He was trained in Chinese History in both undergraduate (CUHK) and Master’s degree (Univ. of Georgia). His PhD was in European Intellectual History. This background supports him well in developing more balanced and comprehensive world history subjects. Also, to better prepare students in learning about China’s increased role in the world, his course development in the past 20 years has been on contemporary China, with a multi-disciplinary coverage of its interaction with the World.


Prof. Danny Shiu Lam PAAU (鮑紹霖教授)
January 7, 2018 (Sunday)
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Lecture Hall, G/F, Hong Kong Museum of History
Cantonese (以廣東話主講)
Hong Kong Museum of History
Free Admission; first come, first served