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Student stories

Meet some of the students in our community

Find out why students are interested in China as an area of research, the impact of their research and where it has taken them.

Our students

The University of Sydney Business School


Firm Regionalisation & FTA – A Study of Australian Firms trading in goods & the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)

Tell us about your research on China

­­The forty-year long bilateral relation between Australia & China has impacted the economic, social & cultural integration between both countries and their people in many ways. A recent event, the entry in force of ChAFTA in 2015, has opened new possibilities for further engagement & collaboration which has not yet been studied in depth.

Through my research I aim to understand how the existence of ChAFTA has affected the economic integration process between Australian & Chinese firms and how this FTA is being used or not. The research will also allow to determine potential issues that are arising that impact the firm’s behavior and why that is the case putting the ‘Firm’ at the center of the inquiry.

Having run a pilot study for this project, a lot of issues that are not touched upon or reported in ChAFTA and in existing studies have arose opening an opportunity to explore further.

Using a mixed method approach in light of international business theories this research can provide key insights of how businesses behave allowing us to determine the real impact of ChAFTA for businesses operating in trade between Australia and China to enrich the theoretical discussion and also contribute to policy and business practice. This can make a key difference in the Australia-China engagement moving forward. 

How did you become interested in China?

Born in Chile, I was raised in Japan where I spent my childhood. Being exposed at an early age to an Asian culture, completely different to my Latin American heritage shaped my character, my interests and the way I see life. 

My profound admiration and sense of ‘belonging’ to Asian cultures led me to explore China when I moved to Australia in 2009. China seemed to be a key partner for Australia yet there was not a broad engagement about the relationship at the time. During my Master’s degree, I took an exchange program to study Chinese Law in ECUPL Shanghai where I studied and lived for 3 month and I started to study Mandarin.

In 2014, I moved again to China as recipient of a scholarship from the Confucius Institute and I worked in a law firm in Shanghai and had the opportunity to travel China with my backpack. I was fascinated by the richness & complexity of this culture, its people and how they operate from an economic perspective. I loved living there and learning about China and its evolution, particularly in relation to the place that is home to me and my family now, Australia. Hence pursing studies and a PhD in the area felt right to me and I am excited about this learning process & the potential contributions to the China-Australia dialogue space. 

See Tamara's academic profile

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, School of Social and Political Sciences


Enter the Dragon: Australia’s Engagement with China, 1983-2013


Tell us about your research on China

My research is critical to further analysing the decisive economic and security dimensions of the Sino-Australian relationship over the last forty-five years. I also highlight the important influences that largely determined Australia’s foreign policy towards China from 1983 to 2013 and investigate which was more or less substantial and relevant during these political periods. I also evaluate key indicators which characterise the independent variables. This study argues that distinct variables were more essential than others even if it was only a subtle differentiation.

How did you become interested in China?

Confucius once said, ‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’ My interest in China has grown over time. When I finished my Masters in Seoul, South Korea I had a budding curiosity about Asia. However, over the last three years of putting blood, sweat and tears into my PhD I have become passionate about learning more about Australia’s economic and security China policy making. In the coming decades China will become the most significant power that Australia will have to do business with and Australia needs to strengthen economic as well as diplomatic and cultural ties with China in order to better harmonize the relationship.

Confucius says again that, ‘Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned? Isn’t it also great when friends visit from distant places? If one remains not annoyed when he is not understood by people around him, isn’t he a sage?'

It is my ambition to understand Chinese history, Chinese language and Chinese culture better so I can become a living bridge between these two great nations.

See David's academic profile

The University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning


Urbanisation and Public Rental Housing in Chongqing, China

Tell us about your research

My PhD examines urbanisation policies in China through the case study of urbanisation and public rental housing in Chongqing, with a focus on rural migrants' quality of life.

Recently, Chongqing public rental housing stands out as a prominent form of urbanisation due to its emphasis on the government's role in all fields of social life. However, public rental housing does not form a complete social security system, and the quality of life of rural migrants after resettlement is ignored in the rapid urbanisation. The Chongqing case thus deserves close attention among other pilot cities across the country.

This project will generate an increase in the knowledge of urbanisation in China and broad policy implications to improve migrants’ quality of life. It will offer a new foundation to trigger insightful critiques of the program and comprehensive evaluation of the effects of Chinese urbanisation on local and global sustainability.

How did you become interested in China?

“You cannot change China, but China changes you.” I became interested in China, especially in contemporary China, was when I realised China had a greater vitality in contrast to western contemporary civilisations.

The issues of contemporary Chinese cities are so great and complicated that individuals often feel too powerless to make any changes. However, I believe there are two ways to see the matter of fact. One is stepping out, meaning going ‘outside’ is to see the ‘inside’ more truly, and that coming to Australia is to see China more essentially. The other is multi-angle. Visions and angles of reflection will be broadened with different standards and criteria against in a multi-cultural environment. As the contemporary China is parts of the Chinese history, the aim for criticising the reality of contemporary cities is to obtain courage to explore the unknown and get closer to our ideal cities.


  • ‘Public Housing as Method: Upgrading the Urbanisation Model through a Mega Urban Project’, CRIOCM 2017 Conference: Advancement of Construction Management and Real Estate, November 2017
  • ‘Planning as an Entrepreneurial Method: A Comparative Study on Superblocks in Contemporary China and Colonial Australia’, The 10th International Urban Design Conference, November 2017
  • ‘The ‘Chongqing Model’ and Its Public Rental Housing’, Asia Pacific Network Housing Research Conference, December 2016
  • ‘Chongqing’s Public Rental Housing vs. the Village in the City: A Comparative Study of Housing Provision in Contemporary China’, The 9th International Urban Design Conference, November 2016


  • Global Scholarship Programme for Research Excellence, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2017
  • Japan Student Service Organisation (JASSO) Scholarship, 2017

Prizes and awards

  • Short-listed Projects and Designs for the S.ARCH 2017 Awards, 2017
  • Long-listed Projects Award for Varna City Library Competition in Bulgaria, 2016
  • '8 mentions' Award of the International rural architecture competition in Korea, 2015

See Weijie's academic profile

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Media and Communications


The use of social media by news organisations in China 

Tell us about your project

My research focuses on China’s social media and its impact on Chinese society. Applying the public sphere theory, it conducts an empirical study about how Chinese social media — WeChat — is influencing Chinese public’s civic engagement. It aims at deepening the understanding about the relationship between the development of information and communication technologies and the evolvement of China’s civil society. Also, it endeavors to contribute to enrich studies that share the interest on Internet, communication and civil society across the world.   

How did you become interested in China?

As a PhD student on arts and social sciences from China, I am interested in China-related social questions, among which are shared concerns for all human beings, such as the development of technology and the realisation of democracy. With the emergence of China as an international power, I think China studies could contribute to help us better understand not only China but the rest of the world.    

It is my ambition to understand Chinese history, Chinese language and Chinese culture better so I can become a living bridge between these two great nations.
David Fitzsimmons, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences