Yao Xinzhong, born in 1957, is a Professor of Religion and editor of the Encyclopaedia of Confucianism. He is currently Director of the King’s China Institute at King’s College London. Prior to this appointment, Professor Yao was Professor of Religion and Ethics at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and a senior research fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre, University of Oxford.
Yao read philosophy and ethics at Renmin University of China (BA, MA, PhD) and religious studies at the University of Wales (PhD). He started teaching religion at the University of Wales (Cardiff and Lampeter) in 1991 and became a Professor of Religion and Ethics in 2002. He was the holder of a four-year grant awarded by the Templeton Foundation for the project ‘A Comparative Study of Religious Experience in Britain and China’ for which he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre, the University of Oxford (2004-07). He is a visiting professor in a number of Chinese universities and an honorary President of the Confucian Academy of Hong Kong.
Professor Yao’s main research interest lies in Confucianism, Chinese religion and comparative ethics. Continuing from his early researches in China, he became interested in comparative studies between Confucian and Christian ethics when coming to the UK in 1990 and has since written a number of influential books and articles on the subject of Confucianism, including comparative studies with Christianity. In 1998, in recognition of his work promoting Confucianism in the UK, he was made honorary President of the Confucian Academy in Hong Kong. More recently he has engaged sociological studies of religious beliefs and practices, particularly about the political and moral reasons for differences between the self-perceived identity and the sociologically observed behavior.