Tang Yijie entered PKU in 1946 and graduated in 1951.
While at PKU, he was in the same class with Shen Chong, although he did not know her personally. He participated in the nationwide anti-American protests in 1946 after Shen was allegedly raped by American soldiers. After the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, he lost his teaching position at Peking University and was sent to the countryside to perform manual labour.
In 1973, he became part of the "Liang Xiao" (梁效) criticism group, and was investigated after the end of the Cultural Revolution.
He was not able to resume teaching until 1980, when he was 51. Tang wrote more than two dozen books on schools of Chinese philosophy.
In the last decade of his life, he led the monumental "Confucian Canon" (儒藏) project, which involves 400 scholars. The project is due to be finished in 2025.
In 2010, the Institute of Confucian Studies was established at Peking University, and Tang Yijie was named its first director
In May 2014, President Xi Jinping visited Tang at Peking University, and lauded him for his "exceptional contribution" to the promotion of traditional Chinese culture. Yue is a scholar of comparative literature. Tang Yijie fell ill in 2013 and died on 9 September 2014 in Beijing, at the age of 87.
Tang Yijie supported political reforms in China. During the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, he joined a group of eminent scholars to plead to the government for leniency for the dissident Wei Jingsheng, who had been imprisoned for a decade for advocating democracy.