Professor Kerry brown

Professor Kerry Brown

Professor Kerry Brown leads the centre as its Director, and his work is already making a substantial difference to our understanding of China, as he explains.

My research and work focuses on contemporary Chinese politics, particularly elite politics in the Communist Party.

The key outcome of this work is feeding research and analysis into policy making at government, company and university levels. I work closely with a range of policy makers in particular areas that are engaged on issues where thinking about China matters – which, these days, means almost everyone. I have worked in more than 30 countries on matters to do with China, from Iceland, to Russia, India, South Korea, Canada, Brazil, and of course Greater China itself.

It is important to note that the dynamics of policy making are different from that of research. You need a good evidence base to make policy, but you also need very specific conceptual frameworks, which are geared towards pragmatic outcomes and have to deal with a lot of variables. There needs to be a greater bridge between policy makers and expert communities. We are interested in trying to provide this.

My experience stretches across organisations as diverse as ministries of sovereign nations, multilateral organisations from the UN to the EU, companies like BP, CLSA and Tesco, and organisations like the Royal College of Art and, of course, now the University of Sydney. I have been adviser to Liverpool City Council in its relations with Shanghai in China.

Creating new insights

At the China Studies Centre we are always trying to create new insights – to think of new frameworks, new ways of seeing the dynamism in China and how we can locate ourselves within this.
Given that China is the largest and fastest growing emerging market – in an increasing competitive environment – we need to be knowledgeable about what is happening there, and innovative about ways in which we view and engage with China. My interests look in particular at this.

Businesses are the infantry of our engagement with China. Our vast economic relationship has been built on the back of their work. Their perspectives are important, and supplying them with more insights, good analytic work and pragmatic advice is hugely challenging, but has very measurable outcomes – better trade! This area is critical to our competitive future. If we are unable to equip a new generation with the skills to engage with China both as a business partner, and a geopolitical partner, then we are failing.

Our master’s degrees will help us to equip future leaders with those critically important career skills – what the White Paper on the Asian Century calls an "Asian Savvy" set of skills and outlooks.

Working with the China Studies Centre also offers the benefit of being part of a community with a common purpose, and a shared vision of why what we know and understand and how we see China is important for our present, and future. I chose the University of Sydney because of its clear commitment to a comprehensive, innovative relationship with China in its diversity, and because of the breadth of expertise here.

The University of Sydney uses cross-disciplinary cooperation and collaboration to capitalise on its breadth and depth of expertise, an approach that is particularly important as we engage with diverse and complex partners in China.

Professor Kerry Brown is Executive Director, China Studies Centre, Member of Executive Committee, China Studies Centre, and Professor of Chinese Politics, Department of Government and International Relations, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the University of Sydney.