Professor Vivienne Bath

Professor Vivienne Bath

Professor Vivienne Bath is a leading authority on international business law and Chinese law, and her research is delivering valuable new insights into these areas.

I was originally offered the chance to move from private practice to academia in order to rebuild the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law. Support from the China Studies Centre, when it was established, meant that we have been able to expand our teaching offerings and our research through the appointment of Professor Bing Ling and myself to chairs in Chinese law. There are few other universities in Australia that offer this kind of support.

At the moment, I am working on papers in areas related to international law and investment in relation to China, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. I have just had an article published on approaches to national security in investment in Chinese and Australian law, and I have completed articles and book chapters on a range of areas, including tax, ethics and corporate responsibility in China, regionalism and ASEAN and Australian approaches to international law. I am working on a book chapter on new paradigms in outbound investment from China, focussing on private companies and a paper on Chinese government participation in court and other cases overseas for a conference at Oxford in September.

My work has been cited in a number of High Court and Supreme Court cases. My published articles are quite frequently downloaded and cited, which suggests that my work on China is relevant to scholars and lawyers. The Law School has done well in promoting study of Chinese law by our own students, both in China and in Sydney, and feedback from these students shows that interest in China and in Chinese approaches to law and the legal system continues to grow. The high quality of our students, and the presence of a substantial group with a strong interest in China, means that we are able to expand our research into interesting areas.

Making connections

The Centre for Asian and Pacific Law has been building up contacts with a range of other institutions. The world of Chinese legal scholars is quite small and involves lawyers, academics and students from Australia, Asia, China, the United States and Europe. We have a long-standing relationship with the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, which offers an annual course for our students. This year, for the first time, the Law School is hosting a course in Australian law for students from ECUPL, with the aim of continuing our long-term relationship with ECUPL and widening the knowledge base of Chinese law students. We also work with the University of Hawai’i Law School, the Seoul National University, the University of British Columbia and several other international institutions, as well as maintaining good relations with government lawyers who work in related areas.

Being part of the China Studies Centre also gives me the opportunity to to build up relationships with scholars within the University of Sydney who work in related areas. The Sydney China Business Forum has been a good initiative in allowing me to broaden my focus, and the Distinguished Speakers lecture I gave last year on ‘Australia-China foreign investment policy – national interest and national security’ gave me the opportunity to share my work with a broad range of people in the University community and outside the University.

Dedicated to education

The University of Sydney has a genuine commitment to teaching and research in the area of China studies and particularly Chinese law. Our combined law degree is an excellent example of this. We have a wide range of subjects we have developed in Chinese law, with offerings both in Sydney and in China, which attract interest from students from Sydney Law School and other Australian law schools. With the support of the China Studies Centre, we are expanding the range of postgraduate students to whom these courses can be offered.

In my opinion, the University and the community benefits greatly from students who have studied, for example, Chinese language and culture as well as law. The same applies to the combined Arts/Science and other degrees, which offer students a wider view of the world and the chance to specialise in both a technical area and in China studies. An increased ability to study law subjects offers non-law students a wider knowledge of China, as well as offering law students the benefit of a different approach to Chinese studies.

The courses offered by the China Studies Centre will give students an excellent training in research, as well as exposing them to a broad range of China-related subjects. They will graduate with a high degree of competence in a range of areas. The multidisciplinary PhD in the area of China Studies recognises that this field potentially encompasses not just language and literature but many different ways of studying China. These courses will make a significant contribution to the widening world view of our students and, I hope, the Australian community.

Professor Vivienne Bath is Chair of the China Studies Centre’s Research Committee, a member of its Executive Committee; Convenor of its Academic Group ‘Law and Business’ and Professor of Chinese and International Business Law, Centre for Asian and Pacific Law, University of Sydney Law School. See Professor Bath's Sydney Law School academic profile