Xiaokai "Xiguang" Yang, chaired professor of economics at Monash University, died of lung cancer in Melbourne, Australia, July 7, 2004. He was 55.
Xiaokai's extraordinary life touched upon important currents in recent history. He was born in China to leading Communist Party officials, who provided him an excellent education and a privileged life. This ended when, as a high school student during the Cultural Revolution, he wrote the treatise, Whither China? Denounced, Xiaokai spent the next 10 years in the Chinese gulags. In despair, his mother, Chen Su, took her own life. Xiaokai's memoir, Captive Spirits, is a haunting evocation of those times.
Xiaokai studied English and calculus in prison. After his release, he attended Hunan University and then Princeton, where he received a PhD in economics. Xiaokai rose through the ranks at Monash University and was elected a fellow of Australia's Academy of the Social Sciences in 1993.
While imprisoned, Xiaokai had deeply admired a mathematics professor who also was a devout Christian. In 2002 Xiaokai was baptized in the Anglican Church.
Survivors include his wife, Jean; daughter Xiaoxi; and sons James and Edward.
This issue has an undergraduate memorial for John A. Mann '44 *50.Graduate alumni