The Royal Asiatic Society (RAS) China is a volunteer run organisation that provides a forum for the development and expression of interests and expertise related to China and Asia- centric themes for the ex-patriate community residing here. Through its diverse lecture series, art and history focus groups, library facility and publications, it aims to enrich cultural life in Asia's most dynamic metropolis.
RAS China is a branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1823 by Sanskrit scholar Henry Colebrooke and a group of likeminded individuals. It received its Royal Charter from King George IV in the same year 'for the investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia'.
In 1857, a small group of British and Americans seeking intellectual engagement in a city dedicated to commerce established the Shanghai Literary and Scientific Society. Within a year the organisation was granted affiliation with the Royal asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the North China Branch of the RAS was born. The Society's intent was to investigate subjects connected with China and surrounding nations, to publish papers in a journal and to establish a library and a museum. The Society's journal, first published in 1858, had a 90 year print run. It ceased operating in 1952.
RAS China was revived in 2007 by a group of enthusiasts and continues to further its aim of expanding an understanding of Asia, and specifically Mainland China through its diverse range of events.