Sau-yi Fong is a historian of late imperial and modern China. Her research interests include the transimperial histories of military mobilization, maritime technology, and oceanic knowledge. She is currently working on a book project that examines late Qing China’s naval rebuilding project to explore the politics of military-industrial technological transfer from the West to China in the nineteenth century. Tracing the personal, material, and institutional networks connecting the Qing empire to the world’s naval technology, the project uncovers a global regime of arms production that blurred the boundaries between the arms race and the arms trade, secrecy and openness, competition and collaboration.
In addition to her book project, she has written an article investigating the career trajectory of Ding Gongchen (1800-1875), a Muslim maritime merchant and amateur military technologist in mid-nineteenth-century China, which is forthcoming in Late Imperial China. Another article examining the Guomindang’s student military training program from 1928 to 1937 is forthcoming in Modern China.
Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the D. Kim Foundation, the Japan Foundation, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. She received her PhD in East Asian History from Columbia University in 2022.