"Having discussed the abstract idea of the Australia-China Youth Association in Beijing cafes with a motley bunch of Australians in 2008, I was extremely pleased to see an event like the Australia-China Youth Dialogue come to fruition some two years later. Reading through the truly exceptional delegate and speaker profiles before leaving gave me a genuine sense of excitement.
The best part of the dialogue was spending time developing personal friendships with an eclectic cohort of young Australians and Chinese, all committed to developing deeper links between our countries. The program for discussion touched on all of the big issues underpinning the Australia-China relationship. The subtleties and nuances of what we heard led to the most rewarding exchange. For example, we learnt how the concept of face in Chinese culture was being successfully exploited in grassroots environmental activism. Such stories get little reporting in the Australian press, which tend to be preoccupied with fanning hysteria over Chinese investment in the Australian resources sector.
There were many more examples which reminded me to keep an open mind when I think about China and what it means; perhaps an impossible task. China is a contradictory, diverse and undeniably important place. I hope that the Chinese delegates had a similar experience and will see Australia as more than a farm or hole in the ground. One can only imagine where the ACYD class of 2010 will be in ten years time and I look forward to continuing to engage in dialogue then, although I’ll surely no longer be a ‘youth’!"