The hot topic of Australia-China relations drew a big crowd at UWA on June 15 when an audience of 250 packed out UWA’s University Club to hear two prominent scholars debate the issue.

Professor Gordon Flake, founding CEO of the Perth USAsia Centre, and Professor Jia Qingguo, Dean of the School of International Relations of Peking University, tackled the topical question of how Australia should manage the relationship with its largest trading partner.

Their lecture “The World Order in Transition - China, the US and Australia” was presented by the Confucius Institute at UWA in conjunction with the Perth USAsia Centre and the Australian China Business Council as part of the China in Conversation lecture series. The event was chaired by Professor Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UWA.

The speakers agreed the rapidly growing economic and political influence of China had profoundly impacted Australia and had sharpened the need for mutual understanding.  Professor Flake said that with a limited understanding of China, it was reasonable for the Australian Government and public to be concerned and anxious about China’s rising influence.  He suggested the governments of the two nations adopt a more detailed, keen and intelligent approach to resolve problems that currently existed in their relationship.

Professor Jia said the Australian Government needed to conduct more frequent exchanges with its Chinese counterparts in order to deepen its understanding of China. Professor Jia also hoped China could present its culture in more comprehensive and comprehensible ways to help Australians better understand his homeland. He said the Confucius Institute at UWA had already established an academic platform which provided a good example of how to address this issue.

The lecture series had successfully bought eminent Chinese and Australian academics, government officials and executives of industrial and commercial enterprises together to help deepen public understanding of Chinese politics, economics and culture.

The event was attended by a large number of distinguished guests including Professor Peter Dean, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) of UWA; Adam Handley, President of the WA Branch of the Australia China Business Council; Professor Mark Beeson, Professor of International Politics at UWA; Professor Greg McCarthy of Peking University Australian Studies Centre and Professor Ben Reilly, Dean of the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs at Murdoch University. Dr Xianlin Song, Director of the Confucius Institute at UWA also attended with Associate Director Dr Qin Xu.

Read more about the speakers here