Queen's University Belfast: Alumni Bridging Ireland and China

De Angeli, A. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper aims at presenting the historical profile and legacy of two outstanding alumni of Queen’s University Belfast, Sir Robert Hart and Stanley Fowler Wright. Sir Robert Hart, an Irishman, was a key figure in 19th century China. In China he was heavily involved in economics, politics, diplomacy, light-houses, railways, and the postal service. He wielded significant influence and made a substantial contribution to China’s early modernisation and its foreign relations with the West. Hart was unique because the position he held for over 40 years, that of Inspector General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, influenced internal reform and external relationships. He was employed by the Chinese authorities and not the Western powers during a pivotal period in China’s history. Hart’s successful career in China is often attributed to his sympathetic understanding of Chinese tradition and its influence on society and culture. Stanley F. Wright covered the role of personal secretary of Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs at the beginning of his life-long career, which spanned for over three decades in the same institution. Wright left Belfast for China in 1903 and in 1933 on the eve of retirement from Customs Service he was appointed official historian of the Customs Service. For this last task Wright compiled the best biography on Hart ever written, and thought published in 1950, it remains the most complete and accurate work on the Irishman who bridged Ireland and China.
Period02 Jun 2021
Event titleAmerican Conference of Irish Studies: Heritage, Healing and Home
Event typeConference
LocationDerry, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • China
  • Ireland
  • history
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • Robert Hart
  • Stanley Wright