Australian studies with Chinese characteristics
China has arguably the largest community of Australian studies in the world. However, not much is known about this phenomenon, including its emergence, rationale, interests, influences, and the implications for strategic Australia-China engagement in a region of increasing challenge and uncertainty. This volume unpacks how Australia is taught, learned, researched, communicated, and promoted in the Asian giant as well as its largest trade partner. In doing so, it penetrates the representation and essence of this phenomenon to seek both the ‘Australianness’ and the ‘Chineseness’ in it.
This volume collects contributions from a group of leading and emerging Chinese and Australian scholars—who are members and insiders of this community—to jointly debate on this intellectual entity and its significant influences and implications. Produced at a critical moment of commemorating half a century of China-Australia diplomatic relations and four decades of formalised Australian studies in China, this volume provides an up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful examination of this Australia-China engagement.
It will be of interest to scholars, students, policymakers, and general readers in areas of Australian studies, Chinese studies, Asia-Pacific studies, China-Australia relations, and international relations.
Across the gap of civilisations and cultures, challenged by language and political systems, people in Australia and China seek to build a resilient relationship. As China establishes itself as the world's number two power, it seeks to understand other nations and these nations are also seeking China’s attention and partnership. This book tells the story of how scholars in China set out to study Australia. It describes a community of Australia specialists working and forging an Australian speciality in Chinese scholarship. Studying this community sheds light on China’s journey with support from Australia. It also allows Australians to know how they appear in the eyes of others. With contributors from both Australia and China, this book makes a commendable effort to enhance mutual understanding and exchange.
— Bob Carr, former foreign minister of Australia and the longest-serving premier of New South Wales
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the development of area and cross-cultural studies between any two countries, let alone Australia and China. The mixture of happenstance, opportunity, and purposive action in both directions makes fascinating and enlightening reading. Early Chinese students at the University of Sydney at the end of the 1970s were the catalyst for an Australian studies community in China larger than in Australia itself. The experience of Australian studies in China has been a trailblazer for that country’s development of all area studies to the point where (unlike in Australia) area studies and the study of other countries and cultures is now regarded by central government as a first-tier academic endeavour. And in the other direction, a small group of officials in the Australian Embassy in Beijing also in the 1970s were the catalyst for the development of Chinese studies in Australia.
—David S. G. Goodman, director of the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney
The question of how Australia is studied in China is an important, yet poorly understood dimension of Australia-China relations. Australian studies centres have proliferated at Chinese universities in recent years, and their staff are major commentators and influencers of public opinion about Australia. This volume is the first to examine the history and development of Australian studies in Greater China. It contains contributions from academics and public servants who have been intimately involved with the development of Australian studies since the first centre was founded in Beijing in 1983. It will serve as a vital reference for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of Chinese perspectives on Australia.
—Benjamin Hillman, director of the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW), Australian National University