China Studies Centre

2013 Distinguished Speaker Lecture Series

Porcelain and their significance for history, archaeology and antique collection

Dr Baoping Li , Australian Research Council (ARC) Australia Future Fellow, University of Sydney

12 February

In this richly illustrated presentation, Dr Baoping Li will rely on over twenty years of research to explain the significance of Chinese porcelain to our understanding of history, archaeology, cultural studies, and the collecting of antiques in China and the world. Dr Li has first-hand experience working with porcelains found at the site of a lost city in North China that was part of the Mongol Empire, ancient Angkor in Cambodia, and an Arab merchant shipwreck of c. 826 CE found in the Java Sea that provides the earliest physical evidence for direct trade between China and the Middle East.

Dr Baoping Li received his BA and MA degrees from the Archaeology Department of Beijing University, and then worked in Beijing for the English-language journal China Archaeology and Art Digest. He undertook his PhD at the University of Queensland, and then worked there as an Australia Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the Australia Research Council (ARC). He is currently an ARC Australia Future Fellow in the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney and is a member of the University’s China Studies Centre. As an archaeologist and historian, Dr Li specialises in Chinese ceramics and their global distribution. He investigates these topics through an integrated approach that includes the disciplines of history, archaeology, art history, and the chemical sourcing of trade ceramics in order to understand the patterns of China’s long-term, international trade.

Listen to the audio podcast click here (MP3, 1 hour 21 mins, 37.5Mb)

Modernising Health Care Provider Education in China

Professor Yifei Wang, Senior Advisor, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

18 February

China is facing an epoch-making revolution of health care service and health care system, symbolised by the paradigm shift from existing disease-management system to a better integrative health care system with the following five transitions:

To meet the needs and demands of this revolution, modernising health care provider education is of strategic importance, including reforming training of clinic doctors, as well as nurses, paramedical workers, community care providers and social workers.


  • Transition from disease-driven medicine to health driven medicine;
  • Transition from targeting on illness to targeting on people;
  • Transition from hospital-based disease management to community-based integrative health care service;
  • Transition from high-tech predominant medical intervention to high-touch, people-centered and community-engaged health care;
  • Transition from disease intervention to comprehensive health care package including disease diagnosis & treatment, disease prediction, disease prevention and health promotion

In line with the essential requirements of health care providers adapting to this new health care system, medical education reform is extremely urgent and imperative, it represents a switch in emphasis from teaching to student-centered participatory learning, from didactic mode of knowledge to a problem-solving capability and critical thinking, from the traditional discipline-based teaching path to an integrated, comprehensive interdisciplinary highway of learning all through the whole medical curriculum, which should be refined and adjusted time and time to tailor-fit the changing world and its evolving culture and social value, as well as rapid development of life and biomedical sciences.

The strategic framework and preliminary trial of medical education reform program of the School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University will be briefly introduced.

Professor Yifei Wang currently serves as the Senior Advisor, Medical School of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Vice Chairman of Shanghai Senior Professor Association, Past-President of Chinese Society of Reproductive Medicine, Chairman of Shanghai Society of Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Reproductive Health and Family Planning and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Journal of Andrology.

From 1995-2001 he was appointed as Medical Officer, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, serving as the Area Manager for Asia and the Pacific, as well as the coordinator of 60 Global WHO Research and Training Collaborating Centers for Reproductive Health.

Listen to the audio podcst click here (MP3, 1 hour 13 mins, 33.8Mb)

China Under Xi Jinping: after who, what?

Professor Bo Zhiyue, Visiting Professor at the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney and Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore

19 March

With the conclusion of the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2012, China has officially entered the era of Xi Jinping. A princeling who took over as general secretary of the Party and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xi also succeeded Hu Jintao as president of the People's Republic of China in March 2013.

In this lecture, Professor Bo Zhiyue, a leading scholar on China's elite politics, will provide a brief introduction to the new leadership under Xi Jinping and speculate what policies this new leadership is likely to adopt for China's political, economic, and social development in the next five to ten years.

Professor Bo Zhiyue is a Visiting Professor at the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney and Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore. He obtained his Bachelor of Law and Master of Law from Peking University and PhD from the University of Chicago. He has taught at Peking University, Roosevelt University, the University of Chicago, American University, St John Fisher College, Tarleton State University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a recipient of the Trustees' Distinguished Scholar Award at St. John Fisher College and the inaugural holder of the Joe and Theresa Long Endowed Chair in Social Sciences at Tarleton State University.

His research interests include China's elite politics, Chinese provincial leaders, central-local relations, cross-strait relations, and Sino-American relations. He is the author of a trilogy on Chinese political elites and elite politics: Chinese Provincial Leaders: Economic Performance and Political Mobility since 1949 (2002);China's Elite Politics: Political Transition and Power Balancing (2007); and China's Elite Politics: Governance and Democratization (2010).

How China's wartime past is shaping its present – and future

Professor Rana Mitter, History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford

9 April

Beijing’s policies continue to dominate the news in the Asia-Pacific region. Will China and Japan clash in the seas of East Asia? Will China be able to implement social welfare policies that will calm dissent and social unrest? Why did it take so long for China to become such a major power? One unexpected but crucial story that helps illuminate these different questions is the wrenching history of China’s experience during World War II, in the epic war against Japan from 1937 to 1945. Over 14 million Chinese died and some 80 million became refugees during those years. This lecture will explore how the battered China of wartime became today’s superpower in the making – and why.

Rana Mitter is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St Cross College. His research has focused on the historical development of Chinese nationalism, with a particular interest in the Sino-Japanese War of the 1930s and 1940s, and its effects on shaping contemporary China. He is the author of several books including A Bitter Revolution: China’s Struggle with the Modern World ( 2004), for which he was named Young Academic Author of the Year by the UK Times Higher Education Supplement in 2005, and Modern China: A Very Short Introduction 2008). His new book China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival, will be published in June 2013.

Rana presents and contributes regularly to programmes on television and radio, including BBC World News, the History Channel, and Night Waves on BBC Radio 3 in the UK. His essays and reviews have appeared in publications including the Financial Times, Outlook, The Telegraph (Kolkata), The Times of India, The Guardian, The Economist, and History Today.

Listen to the audio podcast click here (MP3, 1 hour 29 mins, 40.8Mb)

State Owned Enterprise Reform and Party-Business Relations in China

Professor Kjeld Erik Brødsgaard, Director of the Asia Research Centre, Copenhagen Business School

24 April

Chinese business groups have grown into huge enterprises with significant economic and political clout. As a result of institutional reform, corporate restructuring, and listings in China and abroad, these business groups, especially within the energy sector, have become so big, profitable and well-connected that they are challenging the authority of the central government. Yet, increasingly, business leaders are appointed to government positions as ministers or provincial governors. What is the mechanism of this elite circulation and how does it impact the power relations between Party-state- business in China? Will increasing rotation between leading positions in the Party, government, and business strengthen the Party and government control of the corporate sector or will it strengthen big business’ influence on the decision-making processes and policy outcomes in the Chinese polity?

This lecture addresses these questions based on in-depth studies of the Chinese nomenklatura system and advances the notion of fragmented integration to characterize the evolving relationship between business groups and the Party-state. The seminar also argues that in order to abolish vested interests and interest politics, reform of the role, function, and organization of Chinese business groups is necessary.

Dr Dale Jiajun Wen is a scholar, activist and writer who has focused on sustainable development issues for more than a decade. Her current research focus includes sustainable agriculture, climate change, energy security, and other globalization related issues. She has worked closely with organisations such as Third World Network, South Center and the International Forum on Globalization, and is currently based in Germany. In 2005, she published a short book China Copes with Globalization: A mixed review, which examined the environmental and social impacts of China's breakneck industrialisation and surveyed alternative voices in the Chinese scene, including the environmental movement and the rural reconstruction movement.

Struggle Without Breaking: Behind the rising East Asian maritime tension

Dr Chong-Pin Lin, Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Institute of Strategic Studies at Taiwan’s National Defense University

14 May

In recent years, East Asian maritime disputes have become more frequent and intense with the backdrop of shifting regional power balance from US primacy to China rising. Two countervailing forces have been at work. On one hand, national leaders have found that external toughness yields internal returns, which has compelled the maritime tension to rise. Such factors include China’s post-2008 assertiveness, US expanding East Asian presence, and the growing territorial defiance of China’s neighbours.

On the other hand, rising economic interdependence has prevented the crisis caused by territorial disputes from boiling over into open military conflict. The restraining factors include Beijing’s decades-long guideline of ‘struggle without breaking’, the rising accommodation school in the US, and the hedging strategy of China’s neighbours.

As the shelf lives of the compelling factors are short, while those of the restraining factors are long. The propensity for tension to erupt beyond control is low.

In order to do that, it is necessary for Japan to pursue both Japan-US alliance and Japan-China entente as essentialities, allowing the long lasting anguish of having to choose between the West and Asia to be overcome. This is the ultimate aim of a country such as Japan which lies between two superpowers, as it also is in the case for Australia.

It is also important to carry on the opening-up of Japan as a hub in the network of Asia and the Pacific. This will allow Japan to contribute to the building of a regional architecture on the basis of fundamental values such as democracy, freedom, respect of human rights and the rule of law.

Dr Chong Pin Lin is Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Institute of Strategic Studies at Taiwan’s National Defense University. He served for eight years in the government of Republic of China as: Deputy Defense Minister (February 2003 - May 2004); Senior Advisor in the National Security Council ; the First Vice Chairman and Spokesman of the ministerial-level Mainland Affairs Council; and MAC Second Vice Chairman

From 1987 to 1995, he was Resident Scholar and the Associate Director of the Asian Studies Program at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. He taught from 1984 to 1995 alternatively as Sun Yat-Sen Chair Professor and Adjunct Professor at the Government Department and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. From September 1995 to June 1996, he served as Professor and Director, Graduate Institute of Political Science, the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. From August 2004 to July 2012, he was Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University.

He has authored many books including China’s Nuclear Weapons Strategy (1988), and in Chinese, The Power of Dragon (1992), The Nuclear Hegemon (1999), Win With Wisdom (2005), Perchance Prescient (2008), Notes from an Earthly Journey (2009), and Global Shift: Exploring the Roots of Rising Disasters (2012). He has published in 15 international journals and 11 international newspapers including China Quarterly, and New York Times, respectively. In his oped writings, he has predicted four consecutive U.S. presidential elections between 2000 and 2012, and the ‘naked retirement’ of China’s leader Hu Jintao in 2012.

Listen to the audio podcast click here (MP3, 1 hour 12 mins, 33.3Mc)

Fables of Romantic Science: Robinson Crusoe’s Naval Career

Lydia H Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University

14 March

The Romantic refashioning of Robinson Crusoe was decisive in the rise of science fiction, children’s pedagogical literature, colonial travelogue, and several other genres. This process has transformed Defoe’s rambling three volumes into a single-volume book in which Robinson’s profitable “global” travels to the East Indies and China are progressively omitted so as to allow the Englishman’s miraculous survival on a West Indies island to emerge as the only story. Among Robinson’s adventures that have been suppressed are, for instance, his chance discovery of a “porcelain house” in China and his visit to the Great Wall in volume 2, which may throw fascinating light on his solitary invention of earthenware pots on the Caribbean island in an earlier episode. Furthermore, Lin Shu’s translation of the first two volumes of Robinson Crusoe into Chinese opens up an interpretive space in which the history of Defoe’s work and Sino-British relations can be reinterpreted. In my study, I focus on the 1815 Naval Chronicle edition of Robinson Crusoe to raise some questions about the political economy of the novel which, I argue, is not so much about economic individualism as it is about the fabulation of homo economicus as a global man of science.

Lydia H. Liu is Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She is the founding director of the Center for Translingual and Transcultural Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She has published widely across literary theory, translation studies, digital media, psychoanalysis, and empire. Her books in English include Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity (1995), The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making (2004), The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (2010). Among her edited books are Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulations (1999) and a recent collaboration in the translation and study of early radical Chinese feminist texts with Rebecca Karl and Dorothy Ko called The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory (2013).


Mozi: A Study and Translation of the Ethical and Political Writings

23 August

The authors of the Mozi, an anthology of enormous scope and great importance, can be credited with having produced, during the Warring States period (453–221 b.c.e.), the earliest extended philosophical discourse in China on a remarkably varied set of topics that range from aggressive warfare, fatalism, music, and prolonged mourning for the dead - all of which the authors vehemently opposed - to meritocracy, uniform adherence to government directives, frugality, love for others, and a belief in divine agency - all of which they fervently embraced.

Join us for a launch of a new book of translation and study of the Mozi text by the late John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel. The book will be launched by Professor John Makeham from the School of Culture, History & Language, at the Australian National University.

Professor Jeffrey Riegel is Head of the School of Languages and Cultures in the Faculty of Arts at The University of Sydney, a position he has held since January, 2007. After a PhD in Chinese from Stanford University in 1978, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he served in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures for twenty-eight years, and eventually held the esteemed endowed chair, the Louis B. Agassiz Professor of Chinese. Professor Riegel’s main areas of research are the thought, literature and archaeology of early China and he has published books and articles in these areas. Professor Riegel frequently attends conferences in China and has research collaborations with colleagues in several Chinese universities and research institutes. He has recently served as a Visiting Professor at Fudan University in Shanghai and at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Professor John Makeham from the School of Culture, History & Language at the Australian National University, College of Asia & the Pacific, teaches Classical Chinese language courses and courses in Chinese thought and religion. He is a specialist in Chinese intellectual history with a particular interest in Confucian philosophy. He is a past President of the Australasian Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy and is editor of the monograph series, Modern Chinese Philosophy (Brill). He has also recently completed an edited volume on Neo-Confucian philosophy and an edited volume on the formation of Chinese philosophy as an academic discipline. Currently is preparing an annotated translation of Xiong Shili's Xin Weishi lun (New Treatise on Cognition-only), a seminal text in twentieth-century Chinese Buddhist and Confucian philosophy.

Listen to the audio podcast click here (MP3, 59 mins, 54.1Mb)

Foreign Policy Implications of Chinese Nationalism Revisited: the strident turn

Professor Suisheng Zhao, Director of the Center for China-US Cooperation at Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

17 September

My talk revisits the debate about foreign policy implications of Chinese nationalism in the context of China’s increasingly confrontational and assertive behaviour in recent years. I argue that while the Chinese government made effective efforts to control popular nationalism and Chinese foreign policy was therefore not dictated by the emotional nationalistic rhetoric before 2008, it has become more willing to follow the popular nationalist calls to take confrontational position against the Western powers and adopt tougher measures in maritime territorial disputes with its neighbours. This strident turn is partially because the government is increasingly responsive to the public opinion, but more importantly because of the convergence of Chinese state nationalism and popular nationalism calling for a more muscular Chinese foreign policy. Enjoying an inflated sense of empowerment supported by its new quotient of wealth and military capacities and terrified of an uncertain future due to increasing social, economic and political tensions at home, the communist state has become more willing to play to the popular nationalist gallery in pursuing the so-called core national interests. These developments have complicated China’s diplomacy, creating a heated political environment to harden China’s foreign policy.

Professor Suisheng Zhao is Professor and Director of the Center for China-US Cooperation at Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. A member of the Board of Governors of the US Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, a member of National Committee on US-China Relations, a Campbell National Fellow at Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and a Research Associate at the Fairbanks Center for East Asian Research in Harvard University, he is the founder and chief editor of the Journal of Contemporary China. He received his Ph.D. degree in political science from the University of California-San Diego, M.A. degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri and BA and M.A. degrees in economics from Peking University, and was Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Washington College in Maryland, Associate Professor of Government and East Asian Politics at Colby College in Maine and visiting assistant professor at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at University of California-San Diego.

China Dream

H.E. Consul General Mr Li Huaxin

24 September

China’s new leadership elaborated the concept of the ‘China Dream’ for the first time in November 2012. As the economic and strategic importance of China continues to grow, discussion of this new concept has drawn attention internationally. The Consul General of China in Sydney, Mr Li Huaxin will deliver a keynote speech on the China Dream, in which he will explain the background and content of the China Dream, and what the Chinese Dream means to the world, particularly Australia. He will take questions from the audience.

H.E. Consul General Mr Li Huaxin is the present Consul General (Ambassadorial Rank) of the People’s Republic of China in Sydney. He has long diplomatic career including postings in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria, and internal position in China as Deputy Director General, Department of West Asia and North Africa Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and Deputy Director-General, Senior Diplomats Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

Listen to the audio podcast click here (MP3, 1 hour 17 mins, 70.9Mb)

Humour in Chinese Life and Culture: Resistance and Control in Modern Times

27 November

Launched by Mr Jim Harrowell AM, President of the Australia China Business Council (ACBC) in NSW, Partner, Hunt&Hunt Lawyers and Member of the Board of the Confucius Institute, UNSW

We know humour is often hard to translate and appreciate cross-culturally. Puns and socio-political context are often not understood and even a simple joke can offend. Jessica Milner Davis researches cross-cultural humour and comedy and Jocelyn Chey is a Visiting Professor in Chinese Studies, both at the University of Sydney.

Join us for the launch of their new book Humour in Chinese Life and Culture: Resistance and Control in Modern Times published by Hong Kong University Press, and a discussion about their work. They look at modern and contemporary forms of humour in China’s public and private spheres, including comic films and novels, cartooning, pop songs, internet jokes, and advertising and educational humour. In the Chinese context, humour is a modernising cultural construct. Whether satirical or slapstick or any variation in between, it may be either amusing or hurtful, but always engages with conformity and orthodoxy. The second of two multidisciplinary volumes on humour in Chinese life and letters, this text also explores the relationship between political control and popular expression of humour, such as China and Japan’s exchange of comic stereotypes.

“This book is a fascinating tour of Chinese humour, its contexts and history, and its contemporary manifestations on- and off-line.”
Jeremy Goldkorn, Founder of Danwei.com and previous guest at Sydney Ideas

Jocelyn Chey is a Visiting Professor, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney, and a consultant on Australia–China relations. After lecturing in Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney, in 1973 she joined the Australian Commonwealth Public Service and contributed to the development of Australia–China relations in the Departments of Trade and Foreign Affairs for over twenty years. She was posted three times to China and Hong Kong, including as Consul-General in Hong Kong from 1992 to 1995. At the foundation of the Australia–China Council in 1979, she served as Executive Director, building its activities and reputation. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Oriental Society of Australia, Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and received an Australia–China Council medal and was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2009 for her contributions to the Australia–China relationship.

Jessica Milner Davis is an Honorary Associate in the School of Letters, Art and Media at the University of Sydney and co-ordinates the Australasian Humour Studies Network. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Bristol and Stanford Universities, All Souls College Oxford, Università di Bologna and Clare Hall Cambridge, where she is a Life Member. She researches history and theory of comedy and cross-cultural humour and laughter. Her books includeFarce (2003) and two co-edited studies of humour Chinese culture, as well as Understanding Humor in Japan (2007) which won the 2008 Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor humour research book prize. Twice President of the International Society for Humor Studies (1996 and 2001), Dr Davis is a member of the Editorial Board for HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, a Commissioning Editor for the forthcoming Sage Encyclopedia of Humor Studies, and an Affiliated Researcher with the Centre for Comedy Studies Research, Brunel University UK (CCSR).

Education Inequality in China

Professor Li Chunling, Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

In today’s China, urban-rural segmentation is the most influential factor affecting educational inequality. That is because the Hukou system, which has been existed for a long time, has resulted in persistent and severe inequalities between urban and rural residents, including educational inequality. The educational gap between urban and rural population is much large than of class, race, gender and nationalities. National survey data show that the educational inequality between urban and rural children has persistently existed in educations at all levels in the past 60 years, and it has been continuing to enlarge in spite of rapid educational expansion. The most effective measure for reducing educational inequality is to adjust educational policy, and not only expand the educational system.

Professor Li Chunling is Research Fellow of Institute of Sociology of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and also professor of Department of Sociology of the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Science. She received B.A. and M.A. of history in Peking University and Ph.D in sociology in Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She had studied as visiting scholar and visiting professor in Princeton University, Sciences Po Paris, Stockholm University, Oxford University, the University of Michigan and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her primary research interests are inequality and stratification, as well as sociology of education and youth studies. She has authored a few of books and published tens of articles on these issues. Books she published include Circumstance and attitudes: Young generation born during 1980s (forthcoming), Rising Middle Classes in China (2012), Gender Stratification and Labor Market (2011), Formation of Middle Class in Comparative Perspective: Process, Influence, and Socioeconomic Consequences (2009), Theories of Social Stratification (2008), Cleavage or Fragment: A Quatitative Analysis on the Social Stratification of the Contemporary China (2005), Social Mobility in Urban China (1997). Her recent research projects are on China’s Middle Class, Inequality in High Education and A Panel Study on Employment, Living Condition and Value of Youth in Contemporary China.

Listen to the podcast click here (MP3, 1 hour 27 mins, 40.0Mb)