LSE has had an active engagement with Asia since it was founded in 1895. Beatrice and Sidney Webb, two of the founders of the School, went on a tour of the world, including India, in 1898. They travelled through Asia again in 1911-12, visiting Japan, Korea, China, Malaya, Burma and India.
Substantive academic links between LSE and Asia have developed over this past century. Through its history LSE has had a special role and influence in the wider community in Asia. Many LSE alumni have gone on to become key leaders in their own countries. A selection of alumni who at present are serving in the leadership of their country include: Yang Jiechi, former Chinese foreign minister and current state councillor; Emily Lau, chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong; Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa; Taro Aso, former prime minister and current deputy prime minister and minister of finance of Japan and deputy prime minister of Singapore Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
LSE has always pursued its objectives to understand and improve society through impartial study on a global basis. The current and future importance of Asia with regard to the challenges and opportunities facing humanity in the 21st Century cannot be overstated. The Asia Research Centre was established at the LSE in 1997. The Centre was conceived by two former Directors of the School, Dr John Ashworth and Dr IG Patel in recognition of the growing engagement between LSE and Asia.
Historically LSE has attracted very talented students and staff from all major Asian countries. It has a large and distinguished group of alumni in the region. As early as 1912, an Indian became the first non-European president of the Students’ Union. Ralf Dahrendorf, former director of the LSE, referred to the association between India and LSE as a story of soul mates. Many famous Indians have passed through LSE over the decades. The most prominent include Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a founding father of the Indian constitution and a leader of the Dalit community in India and ex-president KR Narayanan. Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen is an LSE honorary fellow while India’s prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh is an honorary fellow of the Asia Research Centre.
LSE co-founder and Nobel Prize laureate George Bernard Shaw visited China in 1933, where he met Song Qingling, wife of the founder of the 1911 Republic of China, Sun Yat-Sen. Shaw also met the writer Lu Xun and the chancellor of Peking University, Cai Yuanpei. In 1938 anthropologist Professor Fei Xiaotong studied at LSE before going on to play an important role in rural reform in China in the post-Mao era. There are over 4000 LSE alumni in China and they can be found in key positions in government, foreign embassies, international and non-governmental organisations, and leading Chinese and multi-national companies.
This is the same for alumni across the region. Examples include: Juan Edgardo "Sonny" M. Angara, a senator of the Philippines; Kaushik Basu, senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank; Bollywood actress Soha Ali Khan; Tanin Kraivixien, former prime minister of Thailand; Charles Lee, former chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange; Dr Maleeha Lodhi, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and twice Pakistan Ambassador to the USA; Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid, former chairman of Malaysia Airlines and chairman of Bank Muamalat Malaysia; Aireen Omar, chief executive officer of AirAsia Berhad; Aroon Purie, the founder-publisher and editor-in-chief of India Today and the chief executive of the India Today Group; Robert Ribeiro, permanent justice of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal and Dr Rosanna Wong, executive director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.
A key part of LSE’s strategy to develop its historical relationship with this rapidly developing region is the development of alliances and partnerships with a small number of other high-quality universities. These alliances are creating the potential for us to offer a truly international education through dual degree programmes and PhD exchanges, creating favourable conditions for international collaborative research and increasing our capacity to engage in projects that as a single institution we could not entertain.
LSE and Peking University (PKU) have been working together successfully for over a decade to deliver a range of collaborative activities, including two double master's degree programmes in international affairs (since 2006/07) and in public administration and government (since 2011/12). The LSE-Peking University Summer School was established in 2004 and provides a unique opportunity for students and professionals to study a range of courses with a Chinese or Asian dimension each August since 2004.
LSE and the National University of Singapore (NUS) began their formal collaboration in 2007, with the launch of a dual MPA programme between the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and LSE’s (now) Institute of Public Affairs. The relationship has subsequently broadened with a series of collaborative activities.
LSE academic departments and research centres also work on collaborative projects with Fudan University and Tsinghua University in China, and University of Tokyo, Hitotsubashi University and Waseda University in Japan while individual LSE academics collaborate with their colleagues from a range of universities and institutions all across Asia. LSE is working on the establishment of an academic centre to raise our study of and research into South Asia to a new level.
LSE is also active in the Asia region through the active work of local alumni groups. We have academic, corporate and professional links throughout the whole of Asia. Our alumni are represented by a number of extremely active country-based alumni groups. The groups carry out a number of functions on behalf of the School, such as hosting academic visits and acting as a contact point for prospective students. Most importantly the groups offer many opportunities for alumni to participate in academic, professional and social events and activities. These are designed to keep alumni, in their own countries and throughout the region, in beneficial relationships with one another and to further their links with LSE.
Dr Brendan Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) has headed LSE's partnership programs with academics, alumni and corporates in China since 2003. See LSE China.