|Occupation||Historian, university professor|
Shen Zhihua (simplified Chinese: 沈志华; traditional Chinese: 沈志華; pinyin: Shěn Zhìhuá; born April 1950 in Beijing) is a professor of history at East China Normal University and adjunct professor at Peking University and Renmin University of China. Shen is an expert in the history of the Soviet Union, Sino-Soviet relations, and the Cold War. He is director of the Center for Oriental History Studies of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and honorary researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2011 Shen was public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.
Shen grew up in Beijing, where his father was the penal system in China's second highest ranking official. His father has first joined Mao Zedong at Yan'an during the Chinese Civil War Shen was a Navy pilot before he was accused of murder and jailed. He was released after his accuser, a jailhouse informant, recanted. In the early 1980s, when Shen was a graduate student in world history at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, he was sent to jail again and forced to abandon his studies in a politically inspired incident. Shen went into private business, but eventually returned to Beijing, where he set up a private research organization, Zhongguo Shixuehui Dongfang Lishi Yanjiu Zhongxin (Center for Oriental History Studies, Chinese Historical Association), in 1993. This organization has been extremely productive, helping to publish more than 80 books and monographs and hosting many conferences and scholarly activities, especially in Soviet history and Sino-Soviet relations.
Shen and Li Danhui, his wife, are known for their generosity to Chinese and foreign scholars, and Shen spent his own money to finance research visits to Moscow for research groups to collect photocopies of archival materials. His wife's father was a close friend of Xi Zhongxun. Shen has published more than 60 articles and eight monographs, edited five books, and was the chief editor of pioneering documentary collections on Soviet foreign policy and the Korean War.
Andrew Nathan of Columbia University said Shen is "highly regarded" in China for "nuanced histories of key episodes in the Cold War," which form "a solid contribution to the field of Cold War international history" and that his work belongs to "a wave of independent Chinese scholarship that demystifies China's role in the conflict by showing the country to be a self-interested state like any other." In March 2017, Shen gave a lecture suggesting that China's strategic interests are more aligned with South Korea than North Korea.