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ceramic artwork of people in China

Our research

Expertise in multidisciplinary research about China
We support our researchers across the University in their examination of China, its society and cultures, and its interactions with the world.

The China Studies Centre supports and funds research and research projects. Support is a two-stage process: projects are approved as China Studies Centre activities; then requests for support are made to and negotiated with the Centre’s Executive Committee.

Funding requests must be for research-related activities, including travel and travel support, research assistance, and materials purchase. Professor Tony Welch coordinates the Collaborative (Large-scale) Projects and Research Groups; Professor Alison Betts coordinates Individual Projects.

Collaborative research projects

Research Lead:Minglu Chen, Department of Government and International Relations (University of Sydney)


  • Minglu Chen, Department of Government and International Relations (University of Sydney);
  • David S G Goodman Department of Government and International Relations (University of Sydney);
  • Hans Hendrischke, Business School, International Business
  • Wei Li, Business School, International Business
  • Huang Zhang, Business School, International Business.
  • Garry Bruton, Texas Christian University, Neeley School of Business
  • Beibei Tang, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Department of China Studies, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou.

The aims and objectives of the project:

The examination of the development of local governance in the PRC, especially in the development of Xi Jinping’s New Era. Local governance –the interaction of the market, entrepreneurs and managers, public services, and local authorities –has become a major feature of the Party-state. The project to examine local governance will examine the overall results as well as the development of specific elements at the local level, notably the evolution of the welfare services, of enterprises, and of local officials, managers and business elites.

The project will be supported by a regular monthly meeting for all researchers involved to exchange ideas and experiences. In addition, it will support and be composed of a number ofsmaller, specific projects examining specific aspects of local governance. The number of these smaller projects and their specific content will inevitably change and develop along with research.

Individual research projects

Research Lead: Professor Alison Betts, Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


  • Professor Lloyd Weeks, University of New England
  • Dr Kunlong Chen, University of Science and Technology, Beijing
  • Professor Jianjun Mei, University of Cambridge

The aims and objectives of the project:

The aim of the project is to determine the nature of the transmission of copper/bronze technologies into China and to analyse the socio-cultural implications of such developments for both China and the wider region. Recognizing that such technological borrowings were highly complex processes, the project aim will be achieved through a new and highly innovative in-depth analysis of early metallurgy in Xinjiang addressing the following research questions:

A. When, where and how did copper and its alloys begin to be used in Xinjiang?

B. What metallurgical technologies were employed in prehistoric Xinjiang?

C. What were the cultural and organizational contexts for the start and early use of metals in Xinjiang?

D. What does this evidence tell us about the cultural connections and technological interactions between Xinjiang and its neighbouring regions and their role in technological developments in China?

Lead: Professor David Goodman, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

The aims and objectives of the project:

The aim of the project is to provide a series of anthropological studies of gender, intimacy, and class in the contemporary People’s Republic of China in order to understand the dimensions of social inequality. 

Lead: Associate Professor Jamie Reilly and Associate Professor Jingdong Yuan, Department of Government & International Relations

The aims and objectives of the project:

The importance of this research project is both in its timely analysis of not only one of Australia’s most consequential bilateral relationships at its critical juncture, but also the policy implications for Canberra’s strategy toward China. We believe that engagement, despite its limitations and potential pitfalls, remains the most viable and pragmatic approach for dealing with a rising power which also is Australia’s largest trading partner. Our project also aims to collectively take stock of the milestones, achievements, and setbacks in this critical bilateral relationship over the past five decades, inform the public, and contribute to policy debates over Australia’s China strategy.

Over the past five decades, Australia’s pragmatic approaches to managing bilateral differences has led to deepening economic relations, expanding cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and has facilitated greater understanding between the two countries. Yet as the threat of a new Cold War between the United States and China looms, and with fears of China once again spreading across Australia, Gough Whitlam’s original vision for how and why Australia should engage China faces new and profound challenges.

Our 2012 book, Australia and China at 40, brought together Chinese and Australian experts to engage the most pressing issue of the day: the tensions between Australia’s security alliance with the US and its economic relationship with China. To mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Australia’s establishment of diplomatic relations with China, this book brings together a diverse set of Australia’s leading experts to reflect on Australia’s engagement experience with China.

Grounded in a nuanced understanding of the complexity and diversity of China and Chinese governance today, chapters in each issue area will take stock of past achievements and setbacks, assess the current situation, consider opportunities and challenges, weigh prospects and implications, and offer suggestions. This book is thus a collective effort to address a critical aspect of Canberra’s foreign relations—how to respond to China’s rise and maintain a relationship that preserves and advances Australian national interests.

Lead: Associate Professor Rachael Hains-Wesson, Business School WIL Hub and Dr Kaiying Ji, Discipline of Accounting, Business School and WIL Hub Research Group

The aims and objectives of the project:

To highlight the differences and similarities as well as to create shared learnings that will benefit both China’s education reform initiatives and Australia’s need to implement a national WIL standards framework for inclusive access, this project will undertake a comparative study of Australia’s and China’s higher education graduate employability skill development programs and outcomes, investigate parental influences on students’ employability destination, such as how community impacts students’ employment preferences, career decision making and employability skill focus. The findings will be used to inform local and national work-integrated learning strategies, alumni networking programs for returning students to China, career development learning programs in China and international Chinese students studying in Australia. The findings will provide insight, shared knowledge and practice that will benefit both China and Australia’s education landscape and the communities they serve and are influenced by. The outcomes of this project will also provide insight to further improve implementations for employability programs in higher education and national education strategies, promoting connections and practical cooperation between China and Australia, building understanding and exchange, and showcasing Australia’s WIL model diversity and excellence.