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China Scholar, UCLA Professor Dies

Richard Baum is remembered for his contributions to Chinese studies.

A prominent China scholar and professor of political science at UCLA, Richard Baum, has died. He was 72.

His death Dec. 14 in his Westwood home after a battle with cancer was announced by the university Tuesday.

A teacher at UCLA for 44 years, Baum served as the director of the Center for Chinese Studies, according to a university press release. He authored more than 50 scholarly studies and five books, including his memoir, "China Watcher: Confessions of a Peking Tom."

"He was a real pillar of the department," said Jeffrey Lewis, chair of the UCLA Department of Political Science, in a statement. 

The China scholar also provided media commentary on developments in China for CNN International, the BBC World Service, Voice of America, National Public Radio and other outlets, according to the university.

"He was one of the most important and influential China scholars of his generation," said Clayton Dube, executive director of the University of Southern California's U.S.–China Institute, in a statement. "Whenever anything important happened in China, people were anxious to know what Rick thought about it. His opinion was greatly valued."

In the early 1960s, as an undergraduate at UCLA, Baum "stumbled into" a class that would spark his interest in China studies. He would later teach the class, "Political Science 159: Government and the Politics of China," at the university.

Baum was also the founder and manager of the Internet-based discussion group Chinapol, according to the university.

Baum was married to Karin Joffe, a former managing director of a Hong Kong restaurant group.

He is survived by Joffe; his son Matthew; daughter-in-law Jeeyang; daughter Kristen; son-in-law Jan Wilcox; grandchildren Téa and Alec Baum and Sophie Wilcox; brother Steven; sister-in-law Clare; nieces Alana and Mira Baum; and nephews Jeff, Mark and David Flagel.

A memorial service will be held at UCLA's Faculty Center, 480 Charles E. Young Dr. East, at 2 p.m. Jan. 19.

Did you know Richard Baum? Share your memories in the comments section below. 

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