Strengthening ties with China

4 December 2007

The Chancellor, Her Excellency Prof Marie Bashir congratulates a new graduate.
The Chancellor, Her Excellency Prof Marie Bashir congratulates a new graduate.

The University of Sydney has underlined its commitment to developing high level international links with a series of major events held recently in China.


Two years ago Sydney University made a statement of intent about its ambitions in China when it became the first foreign university to hold a graduation ceremony in the Great Hall of the People, one of Beijing's most famous buildings.

On its return to Beijing this November, the University showed it has made significant strides towards forming a lasting relationship with key players in the People's Republic. Unlike many cities Beijing does not reach out to visitors. It is the home of China's most serious politicians and the most sophisticated poets, and many foreign visitors have difficulty in understanding the way it works. Beijing doesn't go out of its way to make itself understandable.

"It is a city full of cultural confidence," said Professor John Hearn, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International). "You have to show your real understanding and respect, but be confident as well."

In a crowded marketplace, Sydney has forged relationship with the two top universities, Peking and Tsinghua, which both hosted a "Sydney Day" in November. A series of activities was arranged including student debates and workshops involving academic staff. "We have implemented different levels of interactions with the two universities, and have achieved a more comprehensive and stronger relationship," said Peter Dodd, the director of international projects.

The Olympic year of 2008 will be momentous for Beijing and China. Sydney University will also be heavily involved with around 15 of its elite athletes expected to take part in the games. Linked with the Olympics, a "What makes a champion?" event, designed by the University's Centre for the Mind working closely with the International Olympic Committee, will look at what distinguishes champion performers on and off the sports field.

Further, the University will more than double the enrolled number of China Scholarship Council (CSC) students next year from 11 to 25. Behind the numbers is a stronger level of support from the Chinese government to the University.

Sydney's Sister City of Guangzhou

The first links between Guangzhou and Australia were laid down almost 200 years ago when people from Guangdong province became the first group of Chinese migrants to the southern continent.

The influence of southern China, particularly Guangdong and Hong Kong, is still strong in Sydney, and can readily be seen in the architecture of Chinatown and the numerous Cantonese restaurants spread across the city.

Two hundred years later, the relationship has entered a new era with the establishment of a research centre to develop and examine the effectiveness of Chinese traditional medicine and work out how it can be integrated with Western medicine.

A joint project between Sydney University and Sun Yet-Sen University, the new centre was opened by the NSW Premier Morris Iemma in November. The centre is likely to receive up to $8 million from the NSW government in the next four years.

"Sydney has taken a decisive step towards acknowledging the importance of TCM and trying to make the most of its value for the rest of the world," said Professor Hearn.

The New Shanghai Connection

No other city reflects the fast growth and open-mindedness of the new China quite like Shanghai. With its focus on business and cosmopolitan lifestyle, it has much in common with Sydney.

One of Sydney University's newest international projects, the Confucius Institute, will be developed in partnership with Fudan University following the signing of an agreement in Shanghai between officials of the two universities. The new institute is expected to open early next year to promote a better understanding of Chinese language and culture to Australians.

Meanwhile the Faculty of Medicine has signed a memorandum of understanding with another top university in Shanghai, Jiaotong University. The agreement covers a wide range of collaborations including student exchanges, joint research, joint symposia and bilingual teaching.

Contact: Claudia Liu

Phone: 02 9351 3191

Email: 3056272c382720182e011b290d0105144d