CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
No. 23, September 2010


Introducing The Australian Centre on China in the World | China Heritage Quarterly

Introducing The Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW)
The Australian National University

Geremie R. Barmé

On 23 April 2010, in his George E. Morrison Lecture titled 'Australia and China in the World' the Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd, announced the establishment of the Australian Centre on China in the World (Zhonghua Quanqiu Yanjiu Zhongxin 中华全球研究中心/ 中華全球研究中心, CIW for short in English) at The Australian National University.

Fig.1 Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd before deliveriing the 70th G. E. Morrison Lecture at the Australian National University, 23 April 2010, with (from left to right) Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World Professor Geremie Barmé, Executive Director of the ANU China Institute Dr Richard Rigby, ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Chubb, and Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr.

The new Centre will build upon The Australian National University's existing capabilities to create an integrated, world-leading institution for Chinese Studies and the understanding of China on a global scale. It will take a broad, holistic view and engage multidisciplinary expertise in areas including Chinese thought, culture, history, politics, society, environment, economics and foreign and strategic policy. CIW will undertake research, education and outreach activities in innovative ways not achieved by similar institutions internationally.

In recognition of the Centre and is ambitious vision, the Vice-President of China, Xi Jinping 习近平, presented a major gift of books during his visit to ANU in late June 2010. The gift to the Centre of over 1000 works reflects some of its key interests and includes works on Chinese thought, history, literature, society, politics, economy and trade and the environment.

In his Morrison Lecture Prime Minister Rudd said of the establishment of the Centre:

...we must take scholars, experts and policymakers out of the silos of separate academic disciplines and departments. We need to foster a new degree of collaboration and engagement between scholars and practitioners of different backgrounds and expertise. And to do that, I believe we need to establish a new centre for study, learning and the exchange of ideas and understanding. A place where scholars, thinkers and policy specialists can engage in an across-the-board approach that brings history, culture, literature, philosophy and cultural studies perspectives into active engagement with those working on public policy, the environment, social change, economics, trade, foreign policy, defence policy and strategic analysis.

I can think of no better place than the Australian National University to further the sophisticated research and dialogue on China's engagement with Australia, our region and globally....The Australian Centre on China in the World will enhance the ANU's existing capabilities to create an integrated, world-leading institution for Chinese Studies. The Centre will be a hub for national and international scholars. It will also be linked virtually with other university centres with related expertise both at home and abroad.

The Australian Government's aspiration is to make this centre the pre-eminent global institution for the integrated understanding of contemporary China in all its dimensions—and for the study of contemporary China's regional and global engagement.

Organisation and Initial Activities

The creation of this new Centre was one of a number of Commonwealth Government-ANU initiatives negotiated during 2009 and formalized in the first half of 2010. A Commonwealth- ANU Agreement governing the centre, and providing initial funding for it, was signed in mid June 2010. Basic operations of the Centre were initiated in late July. The process of appointing staff is underway but will still take some time. A Centre Board of Management at ANU and with membership from other Australian institutions has also begun its preliminary operations. Contacts with institutions in China, North America and Europe have been initiated. An Advisory Board will be appointed as soon as is feasible.

A dedicated Centre website will be launched in October, and in the coming months the Centre's activities will unfold in keeping with its overall founding vision. The various research and outreach initiatives of the Centre, including research programs (and fellowships), scholarships and other programs will be announced as they are launched.

The activities of the Centre will constitute an addition to the range of China-related research and teaching work being undertaken at ANU. It will complement these activities, and those of the university's China Institute (which will continue as the umbrella and coordinating body for ANU-specific China work in the schools of the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific and university wide), and not replace or be a substitute for the already substantial ANU commitment to Chinese Studies.


Six Research Panels covering disciplines and areas (from the humanities to the social sciences) will bring scholars together in new research collaborations on China's society, history, culture, economic change, etc, as well as focus on China in the Pacific, China in South-East Asia, as well as more broader global issues. Each panel will develop research fellowship, post-doctorate and PhD programs. An initial number of post-doctoral positions will be advertised from late 2010 and a fellowship program will be launched in 2011.


The Research Panels will relate to developing new educational programs related to China, while CIW will also develop specially tailored courses for business and government. The Centre aims particularly to stimulate interest in the study of China by working with other key research/teaching institutions and scholars in Australia. The Centre will use these connections to identify and support upcoming generations of China scholars, specialists and China-literate young people.


The CIW Outreach Program will serve to enhance practical exchanges with other Australian tertiary institutions as well as international bodies. It will provide fellowships and support for undergraduate and graduate scholars to come to Canberra and utilize the ANU's resources for their research. We also plan programs for public intellectuals, journalists and government. The Outreach Program will have a specific group devoted to working with government and another involved in public events such as arts and writers festivals and festivals of ideas.


We have initiated an e-project with colleagues in Beijing and are negotiating relationships with Australian and US academic publishers related to a series of books and our annual Profile of China.


We have acquired the services of the Beijing-based architect Gerald Szeto of Mo Atélier Szeto Beijing to undertake the design of the new CIW building. This signature building with Chinese features and garden will occupy a prominent position on the ANU campus and will give expression to the vision for the Centre, one that is related to creative and integrative research with a high public profile.

Initial Activities

Although the Centre was only announced in April and funding has only been available since July, we have already initiated a number of projects and activities:

CIW-CICIR Australia China Bilateral Relationship Report: In April 2010, CIW initiated a series of formal discussions with the leading Chinese government think tank, the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR). This workshop in Beijing, and a follow-up workshop held in early August in Australia, is aimed at developing a joint group that will write the first Report on the Australia-China Relationship. The CIW-CICIR relationship was formalized in late August. With the participation of academics and thinkers the report will be composed over the following year and cover major aspects of the relationship. It will be co-authored and presented to both governments.

CIW-Danwei Collaboration: Danwei Media ( is a leading Chinese media studies site based in Beijing. We have a formal collaboration whereby Danwei provides monthly briefings and a written overview of developments in China related to our research thematics. We plan to use these reports to develop an annual Profile of China activity early each year in Australia and the US, as well as a related publication.

CIW at ANU: An event at the Australian Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo on 17 September with members of CIW, Chinese colleagues, media, international media, business and government people that will introduce the Centre.

CIW-Si-mian Research Institute Workshop, Suzhou, China, 18-20 September: A workshop involving Chinese scholars working on media, social change, urban studies, history, thought and culture aimed at developing and refining some of our key Research Panels. During this workshop we also discussed our plans for the book series 'Thinking China' aimed at introducing to western readers leading Chinese thinkers in areas including contemporary thought, the environment, social change, the middle class and Chinese business.

Reference Materials

Materials related to the thinking behind the new Centre include:

'Australia, China and the World', by Kevin Rudd, 70th George E. Morrison Lecture, 23 April 2010. Online texts:

'A conversation with China's youth on the future', a speech delivered in China Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at Peking University, 9 April 2008. English version online at:

'Rudd rewrites the rules of engagement', by Geremie R. Barmé, Sydney Morning HeraldI, 12 April 2008. Online at:

'Worrying China & New Sinology', based on a speech originally presented at the 'Leading 21st Century Schools National Forum', Adelaide, 20 May 2008. Online at:

'On New Sinology', by Geremie R. Barmé, first published in the Chinese Studies Association of Australia Newsletter, No.3, May 2005. Online version at: