The Sié Center’s Beginning
In 2009, the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy was established through a generous endowment from the Anna and John J. Sié Foundation. The Center is named in honor of John Sié's father, Ambassador Sié Chéou-Kang. Ambassador Sié Chéou-Kang was an extraordinary diplomat, educator, author and playwright, and spent much of his adult life in Europe forging relationships on behalf of China. The Center's inaugural director, Dr. Deborah Avant, was named the Sié Chéou-Kang Professor. Dr. Cullen Hendrix served as director of the Sié Center from 2018–2020. Professor Deborah Avant returned as Director of the Center in 2020.
Since its start, the Sié Chéou-Kang Center has offered students at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies new resources for studying international security and diplomacy by noting the connections between these concerns and those surrounding prosperity and social justice. Among its many programs, the Center provides leadership training for Sié Fellows — the best and brightest master's degree-seeking students from across the globe who choose to pursue a professional education in international affairs at the Korbel School.
The Sié Center is located in an annex to the Anna and John J. Sié International Relations Complex that was dedicated on 7 August 2009. More than 200 people attended the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony where speakers highlighted the Center's importance. As succinctly put by DU Chancellor Coombe at the dedication, "The University of Denver has made a commitment to the Josef Korbel School of International Studies to cultivate the best international programs for students and diplomats. The gift that Anna and John J. Sié have provided is a tremendous contribution to this effort. We are grateful for their generous gift and leadership.
About Ambassador Sié Chéou-Kang
The Sié Center is named in remembrance of Ambassador Sié Chéou-Kang, the father of philanthropist John Sié. Sié Chéou-Kang was born in Kiangsi, China, on 7 August 1898, just ahead of the early 20th century revolutions that would change his homeland forever. This remarkable renaissance man epitomizes the spirit of internationalism that is a hallmark of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy and the Josef Korbel School.
Educated in Europe, he earned a degree in political science, an advanced degree in Lausanne in social science, and later his Doctorate from the University of Brussels. In 1927 he was appointed Dean of the School of Literature at the National Central University in Nanking. A brilliant and charming diplomat, he served as Chinese Minister to Brussels, the Chinese Cultural Ambassador to several European countries, and China's ambassador to the Vatican during World War II.
A gifted artist and writer, Sié Chéou-Kang throughout his life wrote and translated plays, presented theatrical productions, as well as wrote extensively on political issues. A master of the French language, he was elected a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of French Language and Literature in 1946, the only Asian ever awarded such an honor. This accomplished and cosmopolitan man dedicated his life to bringing together occidental and oriental civilizations.