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Ambrose King : biography

14 February 1935 -

Ambrose King Yeo-chi, SBS, JP ( born 14 February 1935) is a Hong Kong sociologist, educator, writer and academician. He was formerly vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).


  • Silver Bauhinia Star (1998)

Personal life

Ambrose King received most of his education in Taiwan. He graduated from Taipei Municipal Chenggong Senior High School, earned a B.A from National Taiwan University and M.A. degree in political studies from National Chengchi University. Then he went to the United States and earned his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970.

Research focus and contributions

His research interest are modernization and modernity of China, and the role of tradition in social-cultural transformation. He employed the theoretical framework of Max Weber to study the development of Chinese culture in the process of modernization. He also tried to measure the costs and benefits of modernization after the breakdown of the old Chinese dynastic orders and clan systems in the late 19th century.

He wrote theses on Hong Kong society, including The Administrative Absorption of Politics in Hong Kong (1975), which argued that the British cooptation of local elites would lead to "synarchy",a form of joint rule; Social Life and Development in Hong Kong (1985); The Special Character of Hong Kong’s Polity and its Democratic Prospects (1987); One Country, Two Systems: An Idea on Trial (1995); and Hong Kong: A City with the Most Traits of Modernity in Chinese Societies (2000). He held that in order to understand Hong Kong, one cannot overlook two important threads, namely, colonial rule and capitalism. He is famous for the administrative absorption politics model (行政吸納政治) he introduced in 1975.

When he visited Cambridge University in 1975, he wrote his first essay on university education, entitled Two Cultures and Technological Humanism.

In 1983 he published The Idea of a University, a work that was the fruit of many years of reflection and study. In 1994, he was elected a Fellow of Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and in the following years he has been honoured by many universities.


After earning his PhD, he joined the Department of Sociology of CUHK in 1970. In 1974, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer, in 1979 to Reader and in 1983 Professor of Sociology in CUHK. From 1977 to 1985, he served as Head of New Asia College and in 1989 he became Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university before succeeding Arthur Li. In 2002 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, and retired in 2004. He is now a Professor of Sociology in the CUHK, teaching the course Individual and Society.

King has written essays; Cambridge Musings (1977), Heidelberg Musings (1986) and Ever in my Heart (2005). He is also a calligrapher.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine