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Featured Researchers

Professor Po-yin Chung

Department of History
Faculty of Social Sciences

Professor Po-yin Chung



A renowned expert on Asia’s socio-economic and business history, Professor Chung Po-yin is described by her peers and audience as “a wonderful storyteller” who meticulously documents the adventures of various groups of diasporic traders in Asia combining historical depth and contemporary focus. She believes that history is a collective of lives lived. She is enthusiastic about writing the kind of history that tells stories as well as making arguments. In general, the history she is interested in is how these individuals and diasporic communities interpret and utilise the past in order to construct the present. In specific, her research focuses on historical and contemporary movements of people, goods and ideas that have connected South China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Her research reveals how, over the past few millenniums, diasporic groups shaped Asian societies, economies, identities and politics. She examines how these groups have fabricated an “Asia” through their mobility and rootedness. Her research also highlights trading hubs, port cities and colonial outposts that connected empires, stimulated multi-ethnic trade among mobile populations, reared various trading diaspora, and brought about dynamic cultural and institutional blending.


Professor Chung earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and obtained her Doctorate degree from the University of Oxford. After teaching at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (and accidentally acquiring her oratory skills from the student audience), she joined HKBU in 1994. Her teaching interests are social and economic history. She was a Board member of the HKSAR Antiquities Advisory Board (2011-2017) and is currently a Panel member of the HKSAR Building Appeal Tribunal (2018-present), as well as a member of the HKSAR History Museum Panel (2005-present). She has also served as Director of the Modern History Research Centre and engaged in a number of funded research projects, commissioned works and consultation projects – and she continues to explore material and cultural change associated with trade and imperial empires, diasporic communities, religious traditions and colonial encounters over the last two centuries. These research works have challenged land-based, state-centered paradigms that have dominated scholarly thinking for an entire century.


In 2018, Chung (together with colleagues from HKBU’s Department of History) received a HK$2 million grant from the Built Heritage Conservation Fund (BHCF) offered by the HKSAR Government for its project “Where ‘Hong Kong in the Sea’ and ‘Hong Kong on the Land’ Meet – a Study on the Conservation of Historic Building Clusters in the Ap Lei Chau-Aberdeen-Lamma Island Area”. The project employs a sea perspective to revisit the history of Aberdeen and its neighbouring region. The team will utilise evidence from building clusters, such as temples and churches, stele inscriptions, official archives, vernacular materials and oral histories to illustrate the communal, cultural and social features of land settlers, fishermen and neighbouring floating communities. The team will trace their histories of settlement and sojourning, and will reveal the aesthetic values, spatial structures and historical social and cultural contexts of entire building clusters. The purpose of this study is to conceptualise “the nexus between land-based and maritime cultural heritages” and seek for solutions to conserve these significant heritages.


In 2020, Chung has received HK$1.39 million from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office, Leisure and Cultural Services Department to conduct the three-year “Mid-Autumn Festival - the Pok Fu Lam Fire Dragon Dance” partnership project. The team will conduct field works, produce oral histories, and reorganise old documents and photos from historical and anthropological perspectives with the aim of retracing the history of Pok Fu Lam Village, as well as the cultural connotations, historical legacy of the century-old fire dragon dance tradition.


  • The 10 Best Books of 2005 Award, Hong Kong Book Fair, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (2005)
  • Hong Kong Golden Book Award, Hong Kong Publishing Federation (2015)
  • Distinguished Publishing Award, Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Award, Hong Kong Publishing Professional Society (2016) 


Research Outputs

  • Chung, Po-yin. “Floating in Mud to Reach the Skies: Victor Sassoon and the Real Estate Boom in Shanghai, 1920s–1930s.” International Journal of Asian Studies 16.1 (2019): 1-31.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Creating ‘Family’ Networks across Time and Space: The Alsagoffs in Singapore, 1824-2009.” Modern Asian Studies 52 Part 2 (2018): 458-91.
  • Chung, Po-yin. The Way of Taikoo – A History of the Swire Enterprise in China, 1866-2016. [in Chinese]  (A commissioned research for John Swire and Sons Ltd., London.) Hong Kong and Shanghai: Joint Publishing Co. Ltd., 2016.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Finance and Politics in Guangdong, 1912-16.” Critical Readings on the Modern History of Hong Kong. Eds. Carroll, John & Chi-kwan Mark. Leiden: Brill, 2015. Vol. 4. 1061-1078
  • Chung, Po-yin. “From Ancestral Tong to Joint-stock Company – the Transformation of the Yip Kwong Tai Tong in South China, 1830s-1960s.” International Journal of Asian Studies 12.1 (2015): 79-105
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Transcending Borders: The Story of the Arab Community in Singapore, 1820-1980s.” Merchant Communities in Asia, 1600-1980. Eds. Lin, Yuju & Madeline Zelin. London: Pickering & Chatto Publishers, 2015. 109-122.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Law and its Impact on Diaporic Philanthropic Institutions: The Practices of Sinchew and the Waqf in the Straits Settlements.” Chinese and Indian Immigrants: Comparative s Perspectives. Eds. Bhattachaya, Jayati & Coonoor Kripalani Thadani. London: Anthem, 2015. 167-185.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Understanding Chinese Customs: the Irish Judges and the Sinchew Disputes in the Straits Settlements, 1830s–1870s.” Legal Histories of the British Empire: Laws, Engagements and Legacies. Eds. McLaren, John & Shaunnagh Dorset. London: Routledge, 2014. 141-156.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Chinese Enterprises Across Cultures: The Hong Kong Business Experience in Early Twentieth Century.” Treaty-port Economy in Modern China: Institutional Change and Economic Performance in Eight Empirical Studies. Eds. Myers, Ramon H. & Billy So. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010. 202-218.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Chinese Tong as British Trust: Institutional Collisions and Legal Disputes in Urban Hong Kong, 1860s–1980s.” Modern Asian Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Vol. 44. Part 4. 1409-1432.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Migration & Enterprise: The Eu Yan Sang Firm and the Eu Kong Pui Family in Foshan, Penang and Hong Kong.” Penang and its Region: The Story of an Asian Entrepot. Eds. Yeoh, S. G. & K. Nasution. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2009. 180-190.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “The Chinese Movie Mogul and the Transformation of his Movie Empire – Loke Wan Tho Family and the Cathay Organisation in Southern China and Southeast Asia (1915-2000).” Asia Europe Journal 7.3 (2009): 463-478.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Moguls of the Chinese Cinema–the Story of the Shaw Brothers in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, 1924-2002.” Modern Asian Studies 41.4 (2007): 665-680.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Migration and Enterprises-three generations of the Eu Tong Sen Family in Southern China and Southeast Asia, 1822-1941.” Modern Asian Studies 39.3 (2005): 497-532.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Surviving Economic Crises in Southeast Asia and Southern China: The History of Eu Yan Sang Business Conglomerates in Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong.” Modern Asian Studies 36.3 (2002): 579-618.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Mobilization Politics: The Siyi Businessmen in South China.” Qiaoxiang Ties: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Cultural Capitalism in South China. Eds. Douw, Leo, Cen Huang & Michael Godley. London: Routledge, 1999. 45-66.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Chinese nouveau riche in Southeast Asia as Movie Moguls in Hong Kong-the Stories of Run Run Shaw & Loke Wen Tho.” Corporate Globalization, Business Cultures in Europe and in Asia. Ed. Albrecht Rothacher. London: Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2005. 26-35.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Western Law vs. Asian Customs Legal Disputes on Business Practices in India, British Malaya and Hong Kong, 1850s-1930s.” Asia Europe Journal 1 (2003): 1-13.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Hong Kong Merchants in New China, 1900-11.” Hong Kong, A Reader in Social History. Ed. David Faure. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 2003. 335-364.
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Surviving Economic Crises in Southeast Asia and Southern China: The History of Eu Yan Sang Business Conglomerates in Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong.” Modern Asian Studies 36.3 (2002): 579-617.
  • Chung, Po-yin. Chinese Business Groups in Hong Kong and Political Changes in South China. London: Palgrave, 2003. Electronic edition. Hard copy printed in 1998 by Macmillan (London) and St. Martin (New York).
  • Chung, Po-yin. “Doing Business in Southeast Asia and Southern China-Booms and Busts of the Eu Yan Sang Business Conglomerates, 1876-1941.” Chinese Transnational Enterprises: Cultural Affinity and Business Strategies. Ed. Leo Douw. London: Curzon Press, 2002. 158-183.