Cheng Pei-kai

Cultural Historian

After graduating from National Taiwan University in Western Literature, Professor Pei-kai Cheng obtained his PhD in Chinese Cultural History from Yale University in 1980 and was a John King Fairbank post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University in 1981. He taught at State University of New York at Albany, Yale University and Pace University in New York for 20 years. He later founded the Chinese Civilization Center at City University of Hong Kong in 1998, serving as its director until his retirement in 2013. He has been a visiting professor at Zhejiang University, Peking University and University Professor at Fengjia University in Taiwan. Awarded the Medal of Honor by the Hong Kong government in 2016, he is now chairman of the Hong Kong Intangible Cultural Heritage Consultation Committee. He has published more than 30 books, and edited various series of collections on Chinese history and culture. His research interests cover a wide spectrum of academic subjects on Chinese culture, such as late Ming culture and Tang Xianzu, transcultural aesthetics, tea culture, Chinese export porcelain, and English translation of Chinese classics. He is also the founder of Chinese Culture Quarterly and has been its editor-in-chief since 1986.

People buy Lunar New Year decorations in Hong Kong, China, on 9 January 2023 for the upcoming Year of the Rabbit. (Peter Parks/AFP)

Not sweating the small stuff: Blessings for a happy Chinese New Year

Recalling a Chinese New Year feast where he was ruffled by feelings of injustice, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai returns to equanimity with the wise words a friend gifted him: stay true to the values of the Chinese heart and mind, and days of peace and simple joys can unfold all through the year.
A yellow Wedelia prostrata flower. (Photo: Alpsdake/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Every plant a medicine: Hiking in Hong Kong [Part 5]

In the fifth of a six-part series on hiking in Hong Kong, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares the wonders of Hong Kong’s hiking trails. With the nagging feeling that the city’s development is slowly encroaching on nature’s bounty, Cheng traces the sights and sounds on a stroll on the beach in Wu Kai Sha, discovering plants of beauty with medicinal properties too.
The Eight Immortals crossing the sea. (Project Gutenberg/Wikimedia)

Escaping the city to join the Eight Immortals: Hiking in Hong Kong [Part 4]

In the fourth of a six-part series on hiking in Hong Kong, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares the wonders of Hong Kong’s hiking trails. This time he stays closer to home, in his neighbourhood of Wu Kai Sha. From his lookout point, he can make out Pat Sin Leng, the Ridge of the Eight Immortals. If he heads to the beach, he can hear the gently lapping waves or dabble in village life under a lush canopy.
The natural landscape of Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong. (iStock)

The allure of youth on the mountain trails: Hiking in Hong Kong [Part 3]

In the third of a six-part series on hiking in Hong Kong, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares the wonders of Hong Kong’s hiking trails. This time, the vibrant colours of flora and fauna at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden revive the spirits.
The author on one of his hiking trips to the Dragon's Back, a mountain ridge in Hong Kong. (Photo provided by Cheng Pei-kai)

Seeing California from Hong Kong's shores: Hiking in Hong Kong [Part 2]

In the second of a six-part series on hiking in Hong Kong, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares the wonders of Hong Kong’s hiking trails. Even in the foggiest of weathers, with a little imagination, the beauty of Hong Kong’s mountains and seas are a sight to behold.
Hong Kongers have beautiful bays, mountains and seas to discover, right in their own backyard. (iStock)

Hong Kongers are fortunate people: Hiking in Hong Kong [Part 1]

In the first of a six-part series on hiking in Hong Kong, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares the wonders of Hong Kong’s hiking trails. Hong Kong’s known as a shopping paradise, but go off the beaten track and there’s plenty more to discover.
People visit West Lake during snowfall in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, on 1 December 2022. (AFP)

Jiangnan cuisine is poetry on a plate

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai reminisces about the delectable freshwater shrimps he savoured in Hangzhou, recalling that Jiangnan cuisine is very much poetry on a plate.
Believers gather near the Trinity icon at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in the town of Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 18 July 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Impressions of Moscow: Miracles and hope at St. Sergius Monastery [Part 4]

In the last of four articles, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares his impressions of the Moscow he knew from a decade ago. On a day trip from Moscow, he is awed by St. Sergius Monastery, the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.
A statue of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (iStock)

Impressions of Moscow: Pushkin influenced a whole generation of Chinese [Part 3]

In the third of four articles, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares his impressions of the Moscow he knew from a decade ago. Everywhere one turns, there are traces of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, a beacon that shines so bright that even the Russians say he doesn’t only belong to Russia, but the world.