East-West Center Oral History Project: Kang Wu

Kang Wu

Born and raised in China and schooled at Peking University, 20-year old Kang Wu came to the UH Economics Department in 1985, partially supported by an EWC research assistantship from Seiji Naya in the Resource Systems Institute.  Later, as an EWC grantee and then as a research fellow, Wu worked with Ted James and Pearl Imada and then settled in with the energy arm of the Program on Resources: Energy and Minerals (PREM) headed by Fereidun Fesharaki. Here he expanded his expertise in economic-energy linkages, oil market issues, and energy policy throughout the Pacific Basin. He helped develop models which PREM used as research tools and in training programs for engineers and economists from the region. Currently, Wu heads the China Energy Project of the Research Program.  His research work includes economic analysis of energy policies, energy security studies, energy modeling, and assessment of clean transportation fuel use in Asia.


Read Wu's interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life at EWC - Joining EWC Research Staff - Joining the Energy Program, 1986
  • Institutional Transitions - Program on Resources: Energy and Minerals (PREM) - Downsizing/Restructuring
  • Partnerships and Networks - Energy Programs in Latin America, China - Energy Program, Post-RIF
  • Intellectual Innovations - In-House Energy Models - China/Pacific Islands Energy Projects     
  • EWC’s Impact - On Asia/Energy Perspective - Challenges for the EWC - EWC Mission - Best Memories - Impact on Personal Life, Career


Interview Quotes
“That was 1987. At that time, China was unknown to many, many people. The DOE money brought in three Chinese senior refining economists, refining engineers actually, and also economists, from the state oil company in China ... They were here for one month, or one and half months.  Every day they did only one thing. That was linear programming for cost minimization analysis... Linear programming, which was developed by the energy program here, specifically, Tom Wilson and David Isaak... China before that had never used linear programming to control the crude flows in their refineries. So when these three engineers/economists ... went back, they applied the model to all major Chinese refineries. And, you know, the economic benefit of that kind of work was enormous for the country...Nowadays they apply modern technologies, and they apply huge linear programming to the entire refining system.”

 “... because there are two ways of doing research, you know.  One is you focus on advanced countries, like U.S. or European countries, which have well-supplied data. ...  Many people do that. But that’s not the major focus of East-West Center, because we are focused on the Asia Pacific region... So the data itself, the data search to get the right data, to assemble these data and disseminate the results – that’s part of the research as well.”


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.

Kang Wu