In June 24, the Australian embassy invited Lisa Qin, one of the 2013 ACYD delegates, and 2014 & 2015 ACYD organisers to speak as a representative of ACYD/ACYPI. Lisa talked about her Australia China story, as well as the importance of the networks and support she had received through ACYD. Here is her speech.
Richard McGregor (born 1958) is a journalist, writer and author. He was the chief political correspondent, Japan correspondent and China correspondent for The Australian. He also worked for the International Herald Tribune, the BBC and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He is the former bureau chief for the Financial Times. He has written The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers.
On Saturday, 28 March, Henry Makeham, the ACYD’s Founder and Chair of the Board, was co-awarded the 2015 Australian National University Young Alumnus of the Year award.
The Award recognised Henry’s efforts in promoting Australia-China youth relations and public diplomacy via the Australia-China Youth Dialogue, the Australia-China Youth Association, and the Australia-China Young Professionals Initiative.
Detials could be found on the webiste of University of Sydney. Ream more at
Interview by Anna Groot, Advance Asia Director
How did the Australia-China Youth Dialogue come about and what is the objective of the organisation?
There was an article in The Age in late 2009 authored by Stephen Fitzgerald, Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, highlighting the lack of institutionalised track one and two dialogue between Australia and China, our largest trading partner. He observed that Australia had a series of such institutions between New Zealand, the United States, and even Israel, yet there was a blank slate, and real need for, such architecture between Australia and China across the spectrum of the bilateral relationship.
I read the article with interest and decided to take action. I met with a motivated group of (then) undergraduates at the ANU over coffee one afternoon and decided to make a pitch to the Australia China Council at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. To our surprise, we were successful. With DFAT’s support and institutional backing, it made it a lot easier for the ACYD to fundraise the capital we needed to kick-start our first dialogue that was held in Beijing then Shanghai in 2010.
The objective of the organisation is to identify future leaders in Australia-China affairs, network them with each other, then via the global ACYD alumni community, build out an inter-disciplinary community of future business, political, academic and artistic leaders who will, at some stage (if not already), rise to positions of authority and thought leadership across the Australia-China dynamic. Developing a high-powered network of Australia-China savvy leaders can only be to the net benefit of Australia-China relations. Moreover, such a network will only serve to make Australia more competitive against other peer middle power countries seeking access and influence in China.
Aside from your involvement with ACYD, do you see any particular opportunities Australia should be picking up on in terms of deepening its engagement with Asia?
I think there is scope to provide a lot more pastoral care for full-fee paying Asian students studying in Australia, in addition to making it easier for them to gain working visas to intern or remain in Australia after they’ve completed their studies. International students who have felt cared for, as opposed to exploited and commoditized, are more likely to, over time, act as roaming brand ambassadors for Australia which would create a range of win-win opportunities for Australian national interests.
What are the most important benefits of cross-cultural networks?
The opportunity to see other viewpoints without sensationalised media distortion which tends to grip issues that are multi-faceted and difficult to distil in a brief news grab, is an important benefit of cross-cultural networks. Moreover, cross-cultural networks allow first-mover informational advantages: often there is a lag when events or trends in places such as China are picked up by Western media. Having friends from China or of Chinese heritage that are active China watchers allows me to not only empathise with other perspectives, but also be ahead of the curve with respect to my understanding of events and trends in the region.
Why did you initially decide to move to Hong Kong?
To be close to China and be at the financial epicentre of Asia’s economic rise. In addition, as Hong Kong is a mature, sophisticated economy, the scope for more rigid and comprehensive training in a developed market with established law firms and clients that have been here for decades was another reason I wanted to start my career in Hong Kong.
What did you most enjoy about living here?
The entrepreneurial spirit of living in Hong Kong and the convenience of travel to so many cultures and landscapes within a few hours flight. The diversity of cultures, both Asian and Western in addition to the beautiful nature reserves and beaches around HK for outdoor fitness are other terrific aspects of living in Hong Kong.
I also enjoy the opportunity to look at the world through new perspectives; gaining an appreciation of different norms, traditions, and ways of doing business is incredibly enriching. If you studied Chinese, like I did, the opportunity to use Chinese in a day-to-day work context, both within and outside the office, adds an extra dimension of challenge and reward to my work.
Which formal networks do you belong to?
I am a member of the AustCham Young Executives Committee in Hong Kong, the Asia Society, the Young China Watchers, the American Australian Association, the Royal Geographical Society in Hong Kong, the Harvard Club of Hong Kong and the ANU Alumni Association.
Do you have a life motto?
A passage from Confucius’ The Analects provides a good roadmap to life of continuous learning:
At 15, I set my heart on learning;
At 30, I took my stand;
At 40, I no longer had doubts;
At 50, I knew the will of the heavens;
At 60, my ear was attuned;
At 70, I follow all the desires of my heart without breaking any rule.
What drew you to Advance?
The fact that Advance is the only organisation seeking to connect Australia’s global diaspora with each other and our links with Australia is a worthwhile mission. No other organisation has this mandate and so, as a member of Australia’s global diaspora, it made sense to get involved with Advance.
What advice would you give other young Australians looking to move to Asia?
Resist the temptation to spend time just with other Australians when abroad. Do your best to break out of a foreign ghetto existence.
To get the most out of living in Asia, you need a lot of energy and an open mind: there’s so much going on professionally and socially, you need to be active and alert to take advantage of, and participate fully in, the extraordinary array of business deals, networking events and activities taking place all over Hong Kong every day of the week.
You require patience and an open mind to empathise with other cultures and viewpoints, in both the social and business contexts, to earn trust and build respect.
You should also have an enduring curiosity in the region around you – in Asia, the learning curve never stops; you’ve got to be interested in the socio-political-cultural environments that you’re working and living in, to offer informed, sophisticated perspectives.
Retrieved from : http://advance.org/articles/the-benefits-of-identifying-with-multiple-cultures/
by Stephen Minas
Recent international travellers may have spotted a large panda dressed in what appears to be a spacesuit peering down at them in their airport terminal, its chest festooned with Chinese and international corporate logos.
‘Half of the Fortune Global 500 are in my hometown’, proclaims the panda. It’s an advertisement for Chengdu, the ancient capital at the heart of western China’s growth story.
The unsubtle message is that its economy has taken off. Western and central China's economic growth rates overtook the eastern provinces in 2005, off a lower base. These inland regions are increasingly on the radar as Australia continues to build ties with China.
Western China's economic emergence follows a succession of sometimes-tumultuous development drives.
In the 1950s, the Communist Youth League sent 'youth volunteer land reclamation teams' to the Qinghai highlands to ‘convert empty lands into good fields’.
In the mid-1960s, amid heightened Sino-Soviet tensions and increasing US involvement in Vietnam, Mao Zedong relocated industrial production, including whole factories, from coastal areas -- vulnerable to attack by the two superpowers -- to China's west.
A large proportion of China's investment until the early seventies was poured into this 'third front', which reached from Gansu in the north down to Yunnan in an attempt to create a 'secure rear base area'.
Subsequently, reform leader Deng Xiaoping’s developmental strategy was explicitly focused on coastal areas. During the eighties and nineties, the coastal region's share of state investment, FDI and GDP grew at the expense of the central and western regions.
In 1996, Jiang Zemin introduced a policy of 'gradually reducing the gap in development between regions'. Chongqing was named a province-level municipality -- equivalent to Beijing and Shanghai -- the following year.
In 2000 the 'great western development' strategy was launched. Policies to boost western development have included fiscal transfers, investment in infrastructure and tax and loan advantages. Rising labour and land costs along China's coast have also prompted businesses to relocate inland.
Beijing's push to build economic ties with Central Asia has been a feature of the 'Go West' effort. China's premier speaks of 'establishing a Silk Road economic belt'.
Events in Urumqi and Kashgar attract traders from across the region. Major pipelines carry oil and gas from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to China, which has invested heavily in Central Asia's resource sector.
In 2010, Chinese companies controlled 23 percent of Kazakhstan's oil output. Increasing economic links between Central Asia and western China are part of a broader trend, with the proportion of Central Asia's trade that takes place with the rest of Asia increasing from 16.3 percent in 2000 to 35.8 percent in 2012.
Economic growth in China's west brought with it calls for increased Australian engagement. A 2009 Lowy Institute report, 'Australia's Diplomatic Deficit', identified a mismatch between Australia's 'growing economic and consular interests' in inland China and the concentration of Australia's diplomats along China's coast. The report recommended new diplomatic missions in Chengdu and Chongqing.
Governments are increasingly moving to support Australian businesses and organisations in western China. In 2012 the Victorian government led by Ted Baillieu (for which I worked at the time) led what was then Australia's largest ever trade mission to China.
During that mission, the government announced that it would open a government business office in Chengdu and that Sichuan Airlines would commence direct flights between Chengdu and Melbourne. Victoria also signed a trade and investment MoU with the government of Sichuan province (population: 80 million).
In 2013, the Rudd Government opened a new consulate general in Chengdu, extending Australia's western China presence beyond Austrade's Chengdu and Kunming offices. During the Abbott Government's recent trade mission to China (which included industry events in Chengdu), the government secured an agreement to establish the Australia-Sichuan Trade and Investment Roundtable.
This proactive approach to the region by government is especially important because Australian businesses in western China will often be operating in less developed locations than the more familiar coastal cities, while contending with variable business conditions.
'China 2030', a joint report of the World Bank and China's State Council, found that productivity in western China was less than half the level of the eastern regions. The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that urbanisation rates in Yunnan, Tibet and Guizhou will continue to lag behind comparatively wealthy coastal provinces.
However, western China's catch-up development also presents opportunities for Australian businesses. ‘China 2030’ identifies 'green development' as a strategy for western China to catch up with coastal provinces without continuing the environmentally disastrous 'clean up later' approach. Australian firms have considerable expertise in fields such as energy efficiency and sustainable urban design with, for example, Melbourne-based architects recently winning a major Chengdu commission ahead of Chinese and international competitors.
The impetus for Australia's deeper engagement with western China goes beyond economics. It’s also about building people-to-people links. Additionally, Western China is a window on how China's leaders see their place in the world.
Much of China's interaction with Central Asia is driven by national security and resource security considerations, including through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The growing Australian interaction with western China is likely to bring additional insights into China's foreign relations.
Classical Chinese literature records that the original 'Journey to the West', though far from straightforward, was ultimately worthwhile. As Australia works to strengthen ties in Asia, growing engagement with western China is similarly an effort worth making.
Stephen Minas is a research associate with the Foreign Policy Centre, London.
Retrieved from businessspectator.com.au
A family holiday at the age of 12 hooked Veronica Walker on all things China. Now almost two decades later, the Asian studies and arts graduate is still peering interestedly into the backyard of the country with the Great Wall.
She’s just returned from the 2013 Australia China Youth Dialogue – an annual conference that promotes engagement between young adults from China and Australia who are interested in strengthening the two countries’ relationship.
As one of two alumni prize recipients selected to attend the conference on behalf of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Veronica had the opportunity to engage with other young professionals on the big issues affecting the Australia-China relationship.
“The Australia China Youth Dialogue really highlighted the fact that there is a strong group of Australian and Chinese individuals with immense goodwill and passion seeking to build greater understanding and deeper relationships between these two countries,” she says.
“The Dialogue covered a range of key issues in the bilateral relationship, from climate change to business engagement. But central to all of these discussions remains the importance of building strong people-to-people links and understanding.”
Veronica’s used to looking at the big picture. It’s something she had to do as part of her previous role as an advisor to the Australia in the Asian Century Implementation Taskforce.
“The Taskforce was a cross-agency team established to support implementation of the former Government's Australia in the Asian Century White Paper,” says Veronica.
“The highlight of this role was having the opportunity to combine my professional role with my interest in China and Australian engagement with Asia. I also enjoyed the opportunity to work in a fast-paced environment with a dynamic team of people from a range of different agencies.”
But for Veronica, it isn’t just policies that will ensure Australia will succeed in the Asian century. It comes down to people, culture and experience. Such a perspective is unsurprising considering Veronica’s experiences in childhood and as a student.
“My father is an academic and growing up we often had international postgraduate students living with our family. Qian, from Yangzhou, stayed with our family for the longest, around 18 months.
“And as an Asian studies student who majored in Mandarin at ANU, I had the opportunity to complete the Year in Asia Program in 2004 – nearly 10 years ago now!
“I studied at the Beijing Language and Culture University and this gave me my first in-depth experience of China and allowed me to put in to practise some of the skills I'd learnt while studying in Canberra.”
For the immediate future Veronica’s gaze has turned to Australia’s own backyard. She has just started a new job with the Australian Government looking at Indigenous economic development.
But with some 20 years of hands-on experience with one of the world’s most dynamic countries, we bet it won’t be long before she is back in China, helping to break down walls.
Veronica Walker completed a combined Bachelor of Asian Studies/ Bachelor of Arts at ANU in 2006.
Featured image by Songquan Deng from flickr.
Source: Australian National University Website, http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/news-events/all-stories/breaking-down-walls#.UluxNGTN9kh