#168 Overall Influence

Tsinghua University

University in Beijing, China
By James Barham, PhD

Tsinghua University was founded in 1911 as Tsinghua College. In the modern Pinyin transliteration system, the name would be written as “Qinghua”; however, the university retains the older spelling for official purposes.

Tsinghua University was built on the site of the former imperial gardens maintained by the Ming and Qing Dynasties.During the Qing Dynasty’s tumultuous last years, the Boxer Rebellion broke out in 1899. The rebellion targeted the many foreign embassies and private companies that had been occupying parts of China for decades, as well as Chinese Christians and others.

After the bloody rebellion was put down in 1901 by an alliance of foreign powers, including the US, heavy reparations (“indemnities”) were imposed on China. Initially, China’s assessment to indemnify the US was set at $30 million. However, the administration of US President Theodore Roosevelt agreed to lower this amount by almost two-thirds, on the condition that the remaining indemnity be used to set up a scholarship fund for Chinese students to pursue their higher education in the US. As a part of this agreement, Tsinghua College was established to serve as a college preparatory school for China’s US-bound students.

Partly as a result of the agreement, a new rebellion broke out, which led to the proclamation of the Republic of China (ROC) under President Sun Yat-Sen on January 1, 1912. Shortly thereafter, the last Qing Emperor was forced to abdicate. These events did not impede the fortunes of the new college, however, as the ROC continued to abide by the terms of the indemnification agreement with the US.

In 1928, the school officially became Tsinghua University. In 1949, Mao Zedong People’s Liberation Army defeated the army of ROC President Chiang Kai-shek. Many Tsinghua professors fled with the retreating nationalist government to the offshore island of Taiwan, setting up the National Tsing Hua University there. The original Tsinghua University in Beijing eventually reopened after being reorganized along Communist Party lines.

Today, Tsinghua comprises 24 schools, which include some 58 colleges and institutes spanning the full academic spectrum from the humanities to the natural and social sciences.

As the premier research university in the country, Tsinghua is highly selective. Although its student body of more than 36,000 may appear sizable by American standards, when one takes the population of China (~1.4 billion) into account, it becomes clear that Tsinghua is a very elite school indeed.

Among many prominent Tsinghua-associated individuals, we may mention the following:

  • Mathematicians, Shiing-Shen Chern, Huai-Dong Cao, Chia-Chiao Lin, Shou-Wu Zhang, Hua Luogeng (Hua Loo-Keng) & Stephen Shing-Toung Yau
  • Statisticians, Xihong Lin & Jun S. Liu
  • Computer scientists, Andrew Yao (Turing Award–winner), Chung Laung Liu (C.L. Liu) & Wang Xiaoyun
  • Logician, Fenrong Liu
  • Philosophers, Hao Wang, Feng Youlan & Zhang Dongsun (Chang Tung-sheng)
  • Poets, Mu Dan (Zha Liangzheng) & Wen Yiduo
  • Novelist and scholar Qian Zhongshu
  • Scholar and educator, Liang Shih-chiu (Liang Shiqiu)
  • Astrophysicist, Su-Shu Huang
  • Physicists, Yang Chen-Ning (Yang Zhenning) (Nobel laureate), Zhang Shoucheng, Zhou Guangzhao, Wang Ganchang, Qian Weichang (Chien Wei-zang), Qian Sanqiang (Tsien San-Tsiang), Wang Zhuxi, Chung-Yao Chao & Wu Youxun (Y.H. Woo)
  • Nanotechnologist, Hongjie Dai
  • Electrical engineer, Ma Weiming
  • Aeronautical engineer, Li Tian
  • Biophysicist, Shi Yigong
  • Chemist, Qiu Yong
  • Structural biologist, Nieng Yan (Yan Ning)
  • Biomedical engineer, Leslie Ying
  • Architects, Liang Sicheng, Li Daozeng & Qingyun Ma
  • Historian and political theorist, K.C. Hsiao
  • Sociologist, Wu Wenzao
  • Anthropologist, Fei Xiaotong (Fei Hsiao-Tung)
  • Linguist, Li Fang-Kuei
  • Economists, Zhou Xiaochuan & David Daokui Li
  • Economist and actuarial theorist, Michael R. Powers
  • Japanese Shinto leader, Haruhisa Handa
  • Sinologist, John K. Fairbank
  • Journalist, Leta Hong Fincher
  • TV journalist, Kristie Lu Stout
  • Current Chinese Communist Party General Secretary, Xi Jinping

Other Tsinghua graduates who have achieved high positions, past and present, within China’s Communist Party leadership are too numerous to mention individually.

From Wikipedia

Tsinghua University is a major research university in Beijing, and a member of the C9 League of Chinese universities. Since its establishment in 1911, it has produced many notable leaders in science, engineering, politics, business, academia, and culture. The university is ranked as the 15th best university in the world in the QS World University Rankings, and is ranked No.1 in Asia by the THE Asia University Rankings and the U.S. News and World Report.

Source: Wikipedia

Influential People

Who are Tsinghua University's Most influential alumni?

Tsinghua University 's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of

Sun Baoguo

Academician for food science, Chinese Academy of Engineering

Achilles Fang


Wang Zhuxi

Chinese physicist

Wu Zhengyi

Chinese botanist

Mu Dan

Chinese poet

Jie Tang

Computer scientist

Song Ping

Former Politburo Standing Committee member of the Communist Party of China

Leslie Ying

Biomedical engineer

Li Huatian

Chinese computer scientist

Liang Congjie

Liang Congjie

Chinese environmentalist

Li Xueqin

Li Xueqin

Chinese historian, archaeologist, and palaeographer

Zhang Zetian

Chinese socialite