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Research clusters

Leading expertise on multidisciplinary research on China
We support our researchers across the University to apply their skills and knowledge to a range of issues impacting China.
Business and economics

Business and economics

Investigating China’s decision to reform
its government accounting practices

Lead: Dr Eagle Zhang

Discipline: Accounting

Grant: China Studies Centre Seed Funding Grant Application

About the project

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, China’s government accounting practice has involved a cash-based budget reporting system only. It provides information on the cash inflows and outflows of the central government in the form of budget revenues and expenditures. However, it does not produce other financial statements, such as a balance sheet or income statement, to report on the government’s financial position and operational performance.

There has been no real action to change the government accounting practice in China until November 2013 when the 18th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee put forth the specific goal of establishing an accrual-based, whole-of-government financial reporting system for the first time.

There have been various initiatives in response to the decision. For example, in August 2014 a new Article 97 was added to the Budget Law and in December 2014, the State Council approved and released a reform agenda by the Ministry of Finance that proposed the establishing the new financial reporting system over a seven-year period beginning in 2014. The Ministry of Finance is developing specific accounting standards for government financial reporting. Five specific accounting standards were been released by 29 June 2017.

We know very little about the development of this major topical area in China. And we do not know the forces that have facilitated this transition and how they differ from those that we are familiar with in the West, given China’s unique context. To fill the gap, this project aims to offer a better understanding of this very significant regulatory reform in China. In doing so, I focus on the ideological dimension of this reform through an analysis of social discourse that has circulated within China. This discourse draws from the Chinese government as the responsible regulatory authority; Chinese accounting academics as professionals; and leading Chinese public media as the main source of public communication.

History

History

A city of emperors: ruins and reconstructions of the Qing in Jehol

Lead: Dr. Stephen Whiteman

Discipline: History and Art

Grant: China Studies Centre Conference Facilitation Grant

About the project

Much is rightly made of the rise of gardens, of their building and blossoming, and of the progressive possibilities of time inherent in the landscape. Yet in their decay, gardens and their ruins are perhaps even more poetic, the inevitable promise of their ephemerality finally realised. Decline is no less fruitful a state for narrative than growth, of course, and the last stages of gardens not only reflect, but may eventually come to define, the fallen fortunes of their owners.

This paper explores the ‘post-histories’ and narratives of ruin at the Mountain Estate to Escape the Heat (Bishu Shanzhuang), the Qing imperial park-palace in Chengde. Constructed throughout almost the entire 18th century for emperors and an array of global guests, the massive grounds conveyed the full glory of Pax Manjurica (relaxing the boundaries separating China, Tibet and Mongolia). Yet following the Jiaqing Emperor’s death there in 1820, the site fell largely into disuse — or, more accurately, the terms of its use, both literal and mnemonic, changed. Coming after the garden’s heyday, this period has largely been ignored, and yet the landscape has persisted through decay, ruin and, most recently, reconstruction.

Focusing on a series of photographs and films, exhibitions and first-hand accounts from the early 20th century, this paper explores how photography, publishing, and celebrity mediated the ongoing formation and deployment of competing colonialist and imperial narratives through the remains of a site that was never truly abandoned.

Language, literature, culture and education

Language, literature, culture and education

Teachers’ roles in preschool arts education - music curriculum in Australia v China

Lead: Xiang Yi Tao

Discipline: Education and Social Work

Grant: China Studies Centre Graduate Research Students Support Grant

About the project

Xiang Yi Tao, a PhD student and member of the China Studies Centre, is working on this comparative study. She presented a research paper at the 27th European Early Childhood Education Research Association Conference in Bologna, Italy, thanks to a Graduate Research Students Support Grant.

The association is an independent, self-governing, international body that promotes and disseminates multidisciplinary research on early childhood and its applications to policy and practice. The association's annual conference is the largest and most important early childhood education research gathering in Europe, attracting more than 1100 delegates from all over the world in 2017.

Xiang Yi Tao’s paper investigates teachers’ roles in preschool arts education, especially music exploration. She is examining formal curriculum intentions suggested in early childhood education policies as well as curriculum practice. Her findings include that the teacher’s image is flexible and contextual and there are gaps between official intentions, a teacher’s self-identity and expectations from children and parents.

Law and politics

Law and politics

Lead: Non Arkaraprasertkul

Discipline: Architecture, Design and Planning

Grant: China Studies Centre Short-term Visitor (Outgoing) Grant

About the project

With a transdisciplinary pedagogical and inquisitive approach to China, this project is establishing contacts with key intellectuals and researchers, centring on the conservations of heritage buildings and new developments with the departments of anthropology, sociology and cultural heritage and museology at Fudan University and the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University, both in Shanhai. Non will offer masterclasses and graduate workshops at both universities.

The Short-term Visitor (Outgoing) Grant will support Non’s work with visits to formulate transdisciplinary research and teaching programs, building on a strong collaboration between Sydney, Fudan and Tongji. 

Science and technology

Science and technology

Australia-China waste transformation cooperation forum

Lead: Associate Professor Ali Abbas

Discipline: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Grant: Centre in China Conference Funding

About the project

Australia and China share a common waste challenge. In both countries, as around the globe, more waste is being produced than ever before due to growing populations, greater resource consumption per person and the prevalence of single-use products. The total annual volume of waste sent to landfill is only increasing and both countries rely heavily on landfills for waste-management. Clearly Australia and China cannot continue to rely on landfill as the primary means of dealing with waste. There is a dire need for waste technology innovations – in particular, new technologies for sustainable waste processing.

This does not simply mean disposing of waste in a less environmentally damaging manner. It means unlocking the value of this underused resource by converting it into safe, high-value chemicals and products for use in industry and homes. We need to aim for a circular economy, in which materials production and end-of-life processing form a closed loop with minimal ultimate waste. Sorting and processing waste at its source will maximise the efficiency of this value chain and reduce transport-related impacts.

This conference will chart the way towards such a circular economy. Its goal is to promote establishment and leadership of the Waste Transformation Research Hub at the University of Sydney, with an affiliated research node led by Tsinghua University in Beijing and Tongji University in Shanghai. The conference will give the hub the opportunity to connect with academics and industry partners in China and help to steer Australia towards the forefront of waste technologies internationally. The hub's integration of advanced waste-management and waste-processing technologies – jointly driven by industry leaders and University of Sydney researchers and partners – will generate economic, social and environmental benefits for Australia and the international community.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing

The impact of migration and technology on social relationships in older Chinese people

Lead: Dr Fiona Stanaway

Discipline: Medicine

Grant: China Studies Centre Seed Funding Grant Application

About the project

Social relationships are a key component in quality of life for older people and central to successful ageing. Migration can have an enormous impact on families and social relationships in older age, both in older people who migrate as well as older people who are ‘left behind’ when their children migrate overseas. The large increase in Chinese migration to Australia since the 1990s makes the impact of migration on the social relationships of older Chinese people an important topic of research in Australia.

A number of research instruments are available to measure various aspects of social relationships in older people including social networks, social interactions and social support (for example, the Duke Social Support Index). However, most of these instruments have been developed in Western countries and are not focused on the specific needs and challenges of older people from different cultural backgrounds or the impact of migration on social relationships. The lack of cultural applicability within these research instruments can mean the support needs of older people from non-Western cultures may be misinterpreted or underestimated.

This project aims to develop a research instrument for measuring social relationships in older Chinese people. The research will encompass selection, translation, cultural adaptation and validation of the instrument. In addition to being adapted for Chinese culture, the questionnaire will also be adapted to incorporate items capturing the impact of migration on social relationships in older age and the use of modern technology for maintaining transnational relationships. We will develop and implement this research instrument with a group of older Chinese people in Sydney through links with Chinese community groups.