Professor Jocelyn Chey Speaks at the 200th Anniversary of the Chinese Migration to Australia

The year of 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the Chinese migration to Australia. To commemorate this, some 2000 members of Sydney’s Chinese community gathered at Sydney Town Hall for a gala night. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Premiers of Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, and the Chief Ministers of the Northern Territory and the A.C.T. all sent congratulation messages and expressed their best wishes. Australian former Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, Australian former Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, Australian Aboriginal leader and former Chairman of the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, the President of the Legislative Council of NSW and the New South Wales Minister for Multiculturalism all attended the event. Western Sydney University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barney Glover, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Yi-chen Lan, ACIAC founding Director, Professor Jocelyn Chey, ACIAC Director Professor Labao Wang, and ACIAC’s key researchers Dr Michael Williams and Dr Denis Byrne were invited to the celebration.

Professor Jocelyn Chey gave a speech, in which she shared some of her stories. She first told the story of a distinguished Chinese Australian, Charles Que-Fong Lee who served in the Department of External Affairs at a time when the Australian government knew very little about China. Charles Lee accompanied Foreign Minister Richard Casey to Geneva in 1954 and helped open up dialogue with the Chinese delegation led by Zhou Enlai. In 1972 he worked closely with Stephen FitzGerald, who was then a junior officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs, in negotiating the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China by the Whitlam Government. She also told the story of Sydney University academic Liu Weiping, a graduate of St John’s College, Shanghai, who came to Australia on behalf of the Nationalist Government diplomatic service, but ultimately resigned and went on to become a teacher of Chinese language and literature, including to the speaker, at the University of Sydney. She told the story of the famous Chinese movie star Jackie Chan (Sing Loong 成龍), who grew up in Canberra and was sent to Hong Kong by his father. There he attended Peking Opera classes in the same building where her husband lived. She spoke of Mr TU Yueh Hsiang (Du Yuexiang) who opened a Chinese restaurant in Canberra in the early 1970s —the Lotus Restaurant—which later hosted many important political gatherings including the National Press Club. She mentioned eminent scholars and scientists who had served on the Australia China Council, including Professor Wang Gung-Wu, Professor Y.Y. Tchan and Dr Victor Chang. Citing all these instances, she called for attention to the contribution that the Chinese Australian community have been making to the development of the country in terms of talents and time.

WSU's Vice Chancellor Professor Barney Glover and ACIAC key researcher Dr Michael Williams also spoke at the gala. In his speech, Professor Glover spoke about the enormous contributions that increasing numbers of international students from China and skilled Chinese migrants have made in Australia’s continued growth and development in recent decades. Dr Williams used a documentary film to speak about the contributions made by some of the early Chinese migrants to Australia made not just to Chinese business and education but to the entire process of Chinese modernization. They both congratulated the Chinese Australian community on their achievements.