Strategic Development Projects

The China Studies Centre has initiated three development projects to explore new insights and avenues of discovery, meet the needs of business and generate public policy. They aim to:

  • extend existing university strengths
  • provide suitable focal points for the development of teaching and
    research and
  • contribute to Australia-China cooperation and relations in business development, public health and social change.

Business development

We recognise that long-term opportunities for cooperation between Australia and China are important to Australia’s future.

With increasing social and economic interaction between Australia and China and the evolving business markets in China, this cooperation is expected to continue when the current resource- based relationship shifts to a post- resources economy.

Australia’s future economic prosperity will depend on its familiarity with China’s newly emerging markets and industries. The China Studies Centre anticipates new trends and creates new knowledge for Australia-China cooperation through its cross-disciplinary structure and open organisational architecture.

By cooperating with all academic disciplines and relying on the University of Sydney’s academics to collaborate with their partners in China, we can advance our knowledge in areas such as education, environment, engineering, finance, health, law, medicine and urban planning.

Our open architecture facilitates interaction between academics, governments, society and business partners in Australia and their counterparts in China. This interaction enables us to translate findings from research projects into commercial and social opportunities.

One key concern with business development is the impact of the new wave of marketisation (moving from government-run public services to market-based services) and privatisation underway in China as part of the 12th Five-Year Plan. The plan’s focus on the marketisation of public services including education, health, infrastructure, social services and urban planning is an important interest area for us.

The centre is undertaking research to deepen our understanding of this immense change in China, which will aid business development plans. Our research will unite brilliant minds from a range of academic groups – including not only enterprise development, but also education, environmental studies, health studies, industrial relations, law and business, science, social and political change, traditional Chinese medicine and urban studies.

The project will proceed with new continuing staff appointments; the appointment of postdoctoral fellowships; and a series of postgraduate scholarships. We will appoint a Professor of China Business to lead this initiative and make additional appointments in corporate governance, economics, finance, industrial relations, international business and law.

Public health

World-renowned for excellence in medical and health sciences, the University of Sydney’s Division of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy is already involved in important work in China that aims to improve standards of living for all. Key focuses include chronic disease management, community health care development, clinical trials practice and management, and development of specialist nursing programs.

While the University’s study of these areas currently takes a medical approach, we now hope to develop our capacity to make a difference by building an understanding of Chinese society and culture into our interactions. Our goal is to develop a group of specialists working on public health in China who will take on roles across the University. We hope to also work closely with the University’s new cross-disciplinary centre researching diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, in areas of common interest.

Many members of our health studies academic group are already involved in the division’s China-focused activities. At the same time, we need to urgently create China-dedicated positions in public health, to provide a focus and profile for the University of Sydney’s activities in this field of study.

We plan to develop further academic work on public policy with respect to public health in China. This will include research and teaching about social, political and economic aspects of health.

Our research will target chronic disease management, community health care, and the management of clinical trials, which have important socio-economic implications for any developing country. However, two aspects of China’s public health environment are unique – a continuing Chinese medicine tradition that exists alongside and sometimes substitutes for Western medicine, and the complexities of the emerging public-private healthcare mix.

The public health project will expand through new continuing staff appointments from many disciplines, the appointment of postdoctoral fellowships, a series of postgraduate scholarships, and funds to undertake research in China.

Social change

The China Studies Centre already has a significant pool of academic expertise on social change in China, including historians, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and researchers in media and communications and cultural studies. They study social change both in China’s contemporary era and in the past. Importantly, the focus of these activities is on China beyond Beijing, and at the local level. Building on this base, the goal is to develop a significant centre of research and consultancy expertise on social change in China.

Social change is concerned with explaining the development of groups of individuals, societies and movements rather than of states, politics and great people. This field is inherently cross-disciplinary and tends to explain social change from the ‘bottom up’. While the focus of explanation tends to concentrate on the contemporary era as a field of study, social change in China is influenced by explanations of the past and may even at times be concerned exclusively with social history.

The study of social change in China concentrates on the lives of people, and how they interact with each other and with the world around them. Above all, an important goal is to explore what makes the Chinese uniquely ‘Chinese’, and China distinctively ‘China’.

Our specialists are divided between those who see China as a civilisation and those who see it as a state. Some start from the belief that Chinese civilisation ended with the fall of the imperial system in 1911. Others argue that a state called China by the Chinese only came into existence from 1912. While there are merits in both arguments, this juxtaposition neatly summarises some of the intellectual problems of society and identity that will underlie the proposed attempt to better understand social change in China.

Social change draws widely across the humanities and social sciences, and does not concentrate exclusively on academics from a single discipline, and we expect contributors to come from archaeology, history, sociology, politics (government and international relations at the University of Sydney), Chinese studies, education and cultural studies.