Inaugural Beijing 2013 Dialogue

Delegates at the 2013 Beijing Australia China High Level Talks

The Australia-China High Level Talks was inaugurated with an intensive full day dialogue held in Beijing from 6- 8 December 2013. 
The forum marked over 40 years since the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries, and provided a unique opportunity for senior figures in the business, policy-making and academic communities of the two countries to explore in a highly interactive format current and future trends, likely challenges and possible responses.

Objectives

  • Consider policy issues that are central to the future consolidation of the Australia-China relationship.
  • Improve the quality and intensity of dialogue and cooperation between Australia and China, through the development of culturally sensitive policy-oriented intellectual exchanges.
  • Develop policy recommendations that are relevant to the work of government, the business sector and the academic community in key policy areas.
  • Publish and disseminate in different formats the findings and recommendations arising from the dialogue itself or research commissioned as a result of the dialogue – to be published in a range of different formats to suit different audiences in both English and Chinese.
  • Prepare the ground for a more ambitious annual dialogue between the two countries as a highly significant event able to attract the interest and participation of the academic, business and political communities at the highest level in both countries as a sustainable process over the longer term.

Themes and topics

On the basis of extensive consultation, two themes were identified as focal points for the exchange of views and information in the inaugural dialogue:

1. Economic development and policy between China and Australia over the next five-to-ten years;

2. The role and contribution of cultural industry and intercultural relations in the development of harmonious societies and friendly relations between China and Australia.

Delegates

An esteemed list of delegates attended the event including:

  • Wang Yongzhang, Vice Chairman of Chinese Culture Promotion Society, Former Director of the Department of the Cultural Industries of the Ministry of Culture, PRC;
  • Zhu Yilong, Vice Chairman of China Overseas Chinese Federation; Chairman of Yindi Group;
  • Yu Hongjun, Vice Chair of University Council and Professor of Guanghua School of Management, Peking University;
  • Gao Song, Vice President & Provost, Professor of College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University;
  • Zhang Guoyou, Former Vice President, Professor of Guanghua School of Management, Peking University;
  • Wang Bo, Chair, Department of Philosophy, Peking University;
  • Liu Shusen, Secretary-general of Australia Studies Center, Vice Dean of the School of Foreign Languages, Peking University;
  • Xiang Yong, Vice Dean of School of Arts, Vice Dean of the Institute of Cultural Industries, Peking University;
  • Xiao Ying, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Tsinghua University;
  • Wu Qiaoling, Associate Professor, School of Economics, Peking University;
  • Deng Yaping, CEO, Into Cross-Cultural Communication Company;
  • Yang Yongheng, Vice Dean of the Institute for Public Policy Research, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University;
  • Lang Wangkai, President, MMD Group Beijing Company;
  • Yang Lei, Director, Investment Banking Department, HuTai United Securities;
  • Qiao Luqiang, President of ANZ branch, Western Returned Scholars Association;
  • Bi Yajun, General Manager of HuaShangTaoLue International Cultural Media Center;
  • Niu Yong, Chairman of Australia-China Alumni Association, Education Committee; China Senior Manager, University of Technology Sydney;
  • Thomas Day, Director of Communications and Development, the Australia China Alumni Association;
  • David Walker, BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies, Peking University;
  • Justin Hayhurst, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy, Beijing;
  • Robin Chambers, Member of the Executive Committee, Australia China Business Council (Victoria); Co-Founder and Senior Partner, Chambers & Company International Lawyers;
  • Sophie Mirabella, Senior Member of the Liberal Party of Australia; Former Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science;
  • Song Lei, Business Development Manager, Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovation;
  • Steve Howard, Secretary General, Global Foundation;
  • Michael Keane, Centre of Excellence, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology;
  • Richard Rigby, Director, ANU China Institute, Australian National University; former Assistant Director-General, Office of National Assessments (Australian Government), responsible for North and South Asia;
  • John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University;
  • John Rosenberg, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Global Relations), La Trobe University;
  • Alberto Gomes, Director, Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University;
  • Pei Likun, Executive Director, Centre for China, La Trobe University;
  • Aran Martin, Research Associate, Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University;
  • May-Fei Lee, Project Officer, Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University; and
  • Joseph Camilleri, Professor Emeritus, La Trobe University & Founding Director, Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University.

Welcome Dinner with special guest, Vice Minister for Education, Hao Ping

Prior to the dialogue, La Trobe University hosted the delegation at a welcome dinner featuring a ceremonial awarding of an honorary degree, Doctor of the University (honoris causa), to Vice-Minister for Education Hao Ping. The award was presented by La Trobe University’s Vice Chancellor, John Dewar.

The award recognised Vice-Minister Hao Ping’s academic achievement, success as a leader in the government of the People’s Republic of China and significant contributions to La Trobe University. The dinner was held at the Shangri La Hotel, Beijing

Professor Hao's achievements and contributions

Professor Hao has made significant contributions to La Trobe. He has been instrumental in the development of our partnership with Peking University and the establishment of the Centre for China Studies and Confucius Institute.

His most significant achievements in education administration have been in international relations where, he contributed to the internationalisation of Peking University and assisted in building the University's brand as a world class institution.

In November 2013 Vice Minister Hao Ping was elected as President of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for a two year mandate.

Event programme and outcomes

ACHLT participants canvassed a wide range of topics in three key dialogue sessions:

  1. Economic Cooperation for Common Prosperity,
  2. Dialogue Across Cultures, and
  3. Creative Industries and Innovation, followed by an intensive policy outcomes roundtable.

Please visit Event programs and information for a summary of the program and to download the full booklet prepared by Peking University.

Policy outcomes

Delegates drew on the in-depth exploration of challenges and opportunities in the Australia-China relationship to suggest a range of policy outcomes for further development and implementation.
These included:

Regional and Multilateral coordination

  • Better coordination of Australian and Chinese roles in regional and global leadership;
    Specifically: for a working group to advocate close coordination of APEC (China) and G20 (Australia) leadership agendas around issues of common concern in 2014
  • Develop a regional approach to a clean food partnership based on principles of cooperative food security and advocate for this to be placed on the APEC agenda.

Investment and trade

  • Australia and China could develop mechanisms to facilitate investment by Chinese bodies in infrastructure, agriculture, services and medical research in Australia based on principles of attractive and stable economic return with facilitation by the respective governments
  • Facilitate increased trade in agricultural technology between Australia and China
  • Australia could consider relaxing thresholds on Chinese investment FIRB criteria to remove disincentives to Chinese investors engaging more comprehensively in the Australia economy
  • Australia and China should make every attempt to negotiate an FTA within 12 months
  • A university to consider undertaking a comprehensive study into the experience of Chinese companies investing in Australia, focusing on key lessons for government policy

Collaboration in creative, cultural and media industries

  • Develop bilateral agreements on film and television collaborations to increase the engagement between countries on the basis of popular culture.
  • Consider specific collaborations and synergies between Australian and Chinese creative industries in the area of television post-production, documentary co-production and special effects.
  • Encourage greater journalist and media personnel exchanges.

Education

  • Expand the volume of Australian students at Chinese universities (The new ‘Colombo Plan’ announced by the Australian government and the Victorian Government’s Hamer Scholarships were mentioned as precisely the type of policy required).
  • Funding plan to be developed to enable a more comprehensive student exchange programme based on: language study, internships, regular communication with broader society to enhance cross cultural understanding.
  • Establish a mechanism to communicate with and engage returned Chinese alumni from Australian universities and returned Australian alumni from Chinese universities through regular organised events and networking. A particular focus should be placed on Alumni currently serving in government positions to develop relations between the two countries (in this regard the ongoing work of organisations such as the Australia China Youth Association (ACYA), Australia China Alumni Association (ACAA) and the Western Returned Scholars Association were noted).
  • Consider developing primary school curriculums in each country to familiarise children with Chinese/Australian culture prior to the age of 8.

Institutional support for cross cultural engagement

  • Increased funding for the Australia China Council was called for based on the relative size and population of China compared to other state based councils in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • Universities to take a leading role in facilitating dialogue between the business, government and civil society sectors of the two countries. Governments to recognise and resource this role in a sustained manner.
  • Consider greater utilisation of Australian studies centres in China as a conduit for cooperation between Australia and China across a diverse set of areas.
  • The suggestions above are only a small selection of the range of topics discussed by delegates, and are include here in lieu of a more comprehensive Outcomes Report.

Follow up and future events

Participants in the Australia-China High Level Talks strongly called for a reciprocal event to be held in Melbourne in late 2014 to continue the process of engagement begun during the dialogue and work towards implementing a selection of policy suggestions from the 2013 Beijing ACHLT.

As part of this process, project organisers will release a detailed Outcomes Report from the Beijing 2013 ACHLT. The report is scheduled for completion in May 2013.

The Centre for Dialogue will closely consult with project partners and participants in 2014 to establish a strategy and funding plan to facilitate the continuing programme of the ACHLT.