Newsletter No. 54 (July 2009)

2009 Melbourne Conference on China:
60 Years of the People’s Republic - Transformations
and Challenges

Yangzi Sima
Asia Institute
The University of Melbourne

Conference Opening Ceremony on 13 July 2009 (Photo: Craig Cahill)

The first Melbourne Conference on China, organized by the Faculty of Arts, the University of Melbourne, tool place on Monday 13 July and Tuesday 14 July 2009 at the University’s Asia Institute in Parkville. Titled ‘60 Years of the People’s Republic -transformations and Challenges’, the event attracted an international audience of over 100, including researchers, educators, and specialists from China (including Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR), Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, India, and Japan.

The conference had an impressive line-up of locally and internationally-renowned keynote speakers. On 13 July 2009 Professor Cheng Li from America’s Brookings Institution addressed the conference audience on China’s rise to economic prosperity and related implications. His speech was titled ‘The PRC Beyond 60: A Paradox of Hope and Fear’. Professor Li was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and appeared on the channel’s evening news programs.

The second speaker on Monday was Professor Ross Garnaut from the University of Melbourne. Professor Garnaut is currently conducting The Garnaut Climate Change Review which is an independent study commissioned by Australia's Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. His speech, ‘How Thirty Years of Chinese Reform and Economic Growth Have Changed the World’, examined the impact of China’s economic growth has had on itself and the world.

The second day of the conference welcomed two other leading China scholars: Professor Zhenwu Zhai from the Renmin University of China, and professor Shaoguang Wang from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Zhai’s talk presented a unique look at China’s population issues, which attracted substantial interests from the audience. Professor Wang’s speech, titled ‘In Search of a Chinese Model of Socialism’, provided an historical analysis of the evolution of socialism in China and its outcomes. Professor Wang was interviewed by the Mandarin Program of SBS Radio.

Keynote speakers (from left to right): Professor Ross Garnaut, Professor Cheng Li, Professor Shaoguang Wang, and Professor Zhenwu Zhai (Photo: Craig Cahill)

During the two-day event, around 80 researchers from leading Australian and international academic institutions gave presentations at the 25 plenary sessions of the conference. Their papers offered informed analysis and perspectives surrounding a wide range of topics, including corporate governance, new and traditional media, domestic politics and international relations, education, law and rights, the environment, China’s past and future, minorities, and cultural histories and traditions.

The conference also saw a notable contribution from the rising generation of China scholars in their 20s and 30s, who are currently carrying out China-related research at universities worldwide.

The Melbourne Conference on China is designed to involve researchers, policy makers and advisers, educators, and specialists working in any area of China studies in intellectually-stimulating discussion to explore the many challenging questions posed by the ongoing and rapid changes that have occurred and are occurring in China’s economy, politics, culture, and society. Following this year’s success, the conference is expected to continue into the future.

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Arts was ranked No. 16 for Arts and Humanities and No. 19 for Social Science by the Times Higher Education Supplement’s World University Rankings. Its Asia Institute actively promotes the study of Asian languages, cultures and traditions to students from all disciplines.

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