'Perhaps more than anyone else Wang Gungwu has highlighted the complex dilemmas facing Overseas Chinese living abroad and their interaction with China. In a world dominated by Western science, Western thought and Western scholarship, Wang Gungwu has succeeded in being recognized internationally, as one of the world’s leading historians on China and Southeast Asia.
Wang Gungwu: Junzi Scholar – Gentleman by Asad-ul Iqbal Latif is a book of conversations with Wang Gungwu published, in 2010, to mark his 80th birthday.'
'Wang Gungwu has been honoured both by his academic peers as well as by governments. After completing his Ph.D. at the University of London, he joined the University of Malaya as Assistant Lecturer in 1957. His talents were recognized at an early age. By 1962, at the age of 32 he became Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malaya and in the following year a full professor.
In his illustrious academic career Wang Gungwu has held eminent appointments in universities and organizations around the world. After teaching at the University of Malaya he moved to Canberra in 1968 to become Professor of Far Eastern History at the Australian National University.
The Malaysian Government’s refusal to grant his son a Malaysian Identity Card coupled with restrictions on his freedom to travel freely to China made up his mind to settle and work in Australia. There supported by abundant resources and books on China he was able to renew his academic interest in contemporary China, then in the throes of the Cultural Revolution, without fear of official suspicion or reprisal. Wang Gungwu spent 18 academically productive years of his life in Australia.
Australia had brought him closer to China. Consequently, the offer of Vice Chancellorship at Hong Kong University in 1986 proved to be too attractive to pass up. It suddenly presented him with an opportunity to have a close-up view of post Cultural Revolution China. If Australia had provided him with a long distance view of The Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong unwittingly gave him a ringside view of the tragic Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
Despite the apparent setback of Tiananmen Square the decade he spent in Hong Kong convinced him that Deng Xiaoping’s reforms to reunify China had reversed the last period of decline which began in the 19th century. He characterized Deng Xiaoping’s reconstitution of a united China as China’s “Fourth Rise” after the Qin-Han unification, the Sui-Tang reunification and the Ming-Qing reunification of the country. It must be gratifying for him to see a rising China seeking to rejoin world history largely on Chinese terms. He left Hong Kong in 1996 – one year before Britain’s historic handover of Hong Kong to China.
In 1996 Wang Gungwu returned to Singapore as Chairman of the East Asian Institute. Starting out as an undergraduate student at the University of Malaya, in Singapore in 1949, his new appointment at the East Asia Institute had brought him back full circle to the island of his youth. Wang Gungwu continues to live in Singapore. Currently, he is also Chairman of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), as well as, Chairman of the Board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.'
More where that came from: CPI Asia: Wang Gungwu's perspective on the Chinese diaspora
(Viewed from the perspective of a 'brain drain' example, Wang Gungwu could not have done so much research had he remained in Malaysia. There are many instances where research has to be done overseas, especially those relating to science and technology.)