Mr. Qi Xia, Founder of Song History Research Center of Hebei University


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Qi Xia (March 12, 1923 - November 2, 2001), is a Chinese historian. Born in Juye, Shandong Province in 1923, he was admitted to the History Department of National Southwest Associated University in 1944. After graduating from Peking University in 1948, he entered the History Department of the Institute of Liberal Arts of Peking University as a graduate student. From March 1951 to December 1953, he worked as an assistant researcher in the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Since 1953, he has taught in Tianjin Normal College (later renamed Tianjin Normal University and Hebei University), and later served as the director, professor and doctoral supervisor of the Institute of history of Hebei University. He also served as director of Chinese History Society, president of China Song History Research Association, the consultant (former as chairman) of Chinese Peasant War History Society, president of Hebei History Society and vice president of Hebei Federation of Social Sciences. He passed away in Baoding, Hebei in 2001.

He has worked hard in the field of history for 50 years. With his profound theoretical literacy and historical attainments, he is committed to the research of ancient Chinese economic history, Chinese peasant war history, history from the Song dynasty to the Jin Dynasty, Song research and other aspects. He has rich works and unique opinions. From the founding of New China to 1966, he focused on the study of the history of Chinese peasant war and historical figures, and successively published monographs such as Peasant Uprising in the Late Sui Dynasty, Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, Wang Anshi's Reform and the History of Peasant War in the Qin and Han Dynasties. With Marxist principles and a large number of historical materials, Wang Anshi’s Reform deeply analyzes the social background of the reform, the complex contradictions and struggles in the process of reform and the nature and role of the reform. It clarifies the historical face of Wang Anshi’s reform for the first time, and highlights Wang Anshi’s image as a great reformer in Chinese feudal society. The book is a famous work of Qi Xia and has been widely praised by history scholars at home and abroad.

 From 1973 to 1994, Qi Xia focused on the study of Chinese ancient dating economic history academically. During this period, he undertook the subject of the key project of the “Seventh Five Year Plan” of national philosophy and social sciences in 1986: “Research on Dating of Chinese Ancient Economic History”, and successively published two monographs: Economic History of the Song Dynasty, Economic History from the Liao Dynasty to the Jin Dynasty (in cooperation with Qiao Youmei) and two anthologies: Truth-seeking Collection and Perplexity-introspecting Collection. Based on rich historical materials, the book Economic History of the Song Dynasty systematically and deeply explores the agricultural production, land relations, handicraft development, national patent system, commercial and urban economy, foreign trade, currency and economic thought of the Song Dynasty, and puts forward a series of incisive opinions. It is praised by historians as a foundational work to fill the gap in the study of dating of ancient Chinese economic history and “a landmark work” in the study of Chinese economic history and Song history. The academic value of the book has been highly praised by the historiography circle. It has successively won the first prize of excellent achievements in the research of humanities and social sciences in national colleges and universities, the second prize of excellent achievements in the national social science foundation project, the second prize of the first Guo Moruo Chinese History Award, and the first prize of excellent achievements in philosophy and social sciences in Hebei Province.

The book Economic History from the Liao Dynasty to the Jin Dynasty is the first masterpiece of China to comprehensively compare the economic development history of the three ethnic minority regimes of Liao, Xia and Jin. It is a pioneering work to comprehensively and deeply study the dynasties established by the three northern ethnic minorities of Liao, Xia and Jin as a unique economic region in Northern China, Thus, it provides an example for the in-depth study of the history of Liao, Xia and Jin, especially the economic history of this period. The book has won the second prize awarded by the Ministry of Education of the history of the second humanities and social sciences research achievements of colleges and universities and the first prize of the outstanding achievements of philosophy and social sciences of Hebei Province.

Since 1995, Qi Xia has focused his academic research on Song research and undertaken “Development and Evolution of Song Research”, a national “Ninth Five-Year Plan” project of philosophy and social sciences. Qi Xia has unique views on the study of Song research. He holds the view that in the exploration of ancient Confucian classics, Song research has formed new ideas, methods and style of study, which are very different from that of Sinology. It has got rid of the shackles of the philological study of ancient texts when han-dynasty scholars prevailed. Song research has focused on reality, practicality and results for the purpose of popularizing classics and applying them, in order to realize the highest ideal of “keeping the talent and virtue of saints internally and implementing the kingly way externally”. In this way, the study of righteousness and neo-Confucianism got created.

Qi Xia founded the Song History Research Office of Hebei University in 1982, which was expanded into the History Research Institute in 1990 and formed into the Song History Research Center in 2000. In January 1984, it was granted the right to confer a doctor’s degree in ancient Chinese history. In 1986, it was determined as a key discipline by Hebei Provincial Education Commission. In 1994, it was determined as a key discipline of the “211 Project” by Hebei Provincial Party Committee and Provincial Government. The Song History Research Center has four research offices: the economic history of the Song Dynasty, the political and legal history of the Song Dynasty, the history of Liao, Xia and Jin, and the study of ancient books and modernization. In 2001, it was identified by the Ministry of Education as the key research base of humanities and social sciences in provincial colleges and universities. Since then, it has become a scientific research institution with the most concentrated talents in Song history research at home and abroad, the richest historical materials in Song, Liao and Jin Dynasties and the most well-informed information in Song history research. It has been praised as “the first important town in Song history research” by peer experts at home and abroad. The Song History Research Center of Hebei University founded by Qi Xia has been leading the research of Song history in China.

He is not only a knowledgeable historian, but also an outstanding historical educator. In the nearly 50 years of educating in Hebei University, Qi Xia has always adhered to the front line of teaching, worked hard and tirelessly, and trained a large number of talents for the country. Since 1982, he has trained 38 master’s students and 23 doctoral students (including one from South Korea). The academic group composed of him and his disciples, has become a beautiful scenery in the historical course of the 20th century. He has always regarded educating young students as an integral part of his academic career. In training graduate students, he worked hard not only to teach them higher knowledge, but also to teach them the truth of what a man is and how to behave.

He enjoys a high reputation in the academic circles of history at home and abroad. He not only successfully hosted the symposium on Chinese Song history for many times, but also was invited to the University of San Diego, Ohio State University, Kyoto University, Toyo library, National University of Singapore and many colleges and universities in Hong Kong and Taiwan for academic exchanges and lectures. He made great contributions to strengthening the exchanges and cooperation between Song historiography circles at home and abroad.

November 2, 2008 is the 7th anniversary of Qi Xia’s death. His four children made a special trip to the Song History Research Center of Hebei University and donated 300,000 yuan to establish the Qi Xia Graduate Award Fund to encourage those graduate students with excellent character and learning.

At the end of March 2009, the Complete Works of Qi Xia (a complete set of 12 volumes) edited and compiled by Song History Research Center of Hebei University and Hebei University Press was published, and the launching ceremony and symposium were held in Beijing. The book is the crystallization of his years of academic research, which reflects the academic characteristics and methods of pursuing historical studies under the guidance of Marxism. Besides, it embodies the author’s academic achievements, scholarly theories and research methods. Scholars at home and abroad deeply cherished Qi Xia’s academic spirit and spoke highly of his academic achievements.

Mr. Qi is erudite. “He has a profound theoretical foundation of Marxism. With excellent literary talent, he masters all the historical materials of the Song Dynasty and has them at his fingertips”. In the research field of chronological history of Liao, Song, Xia and Jin Dynasties, Mr. Qi’s research has greatly promoted the expansion of the research field of Song history in the hundred years of the 20th century. He can be regarded as the pioneer and founder of Song history research in this period. He is undoubtedly a leading figure in the field of song historiography.