Chan has published extensively on the socioeconomic history of modern China in various academic presses and journals.
His book, Merchants, Mandarins and Modern Enterprise in Late Ch'ing China, was chosen by Beijing's Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to be included in a series of modern Chinese history works by foreign scholars, which was published in Chinese by the Chinese Academy Press. Chan was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Hong Kong's Lingnan University in 2004. He has received several national research fellowships and grants and the 1994 Graham L. Sterling Memorial Award. Chan joined the Occidental faculty in 1971.