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First Chinese received doctorate 100 years ago - in physics

Cooperation agreement between Shanghai and Bonn

ShanghaiŽs Jiao Tong University and the University of Bonn will be working closer together in future. The details are set out in a cooperation agreement just signed in Shanghai by Bonn’s Rector, Professor Dr. Matthias Winiger, and his counterpart, President Professor Jie Zhang. The meeting has taken place in a year that marks a very special anniversary: it was one hundred years ago when a Chinese student named Li Fo Ki completed his doctoral degree in Physics at Bonn University - the first Chinese ever to do so.

The Shanghai Jiao Tong University is considered one of the best universities in China. The agreement now concluded provides for a number of activities including joint seminars and exchanges of staff and students. The priority fields are to be the Arts and Humanities, Mathematics, Computer Science, Biomedicine and - as in Li Fo KiŽs day - Physics.

The President of Jiao Tong University spoke of Dr. Li as a "pioneer" of Sino-German academic cooperation. In 1907 Li was not only the first Chinese to be awarded a doctorate in Germany but also the first ever Chinese to receive a doctoral degree in Physics. For the Chinese hosts and their German guests this made the occasion even more worth celebrating. Particularly poignant was the presence of a son of Dr. LiŽs.

Li Fo Ki was born in Shanghai on 27 November 1885, the son of a minister. After finishing his school education in China he travelled to London in the winter of 1901 where he attended Finsbury College and King’s College. On 18 May 1906 Li Fo Ki enrolled as a student of natural sciences at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. Li Fo Ki wrote his dissertation under the supervision of the Bonn Professor of Physics, and expert in the field of spectroscopy, Heinrich Kayser. He received his doctorate on 5 March 1907.

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