ACIAC Seminar: Cultural Diplomacy and Australia-China Relations


Date: Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Time: 3:00 - 6:00pm

Venue: Room EA.G.19 (LT03), Ground Floor, Building EA, Parramatta Campus (South), Western Sydney University

RSVP Essential. Please RSVP HERE (opens in a new window) before 19 November, 2018.


What is cultural diplomacy? How has cultural diplomacy contributed to the building and strengthening of Australia-China bilateral relations? What have been the policies and good practices? This public seminar brings together three leading figures in the area to share their insights on the evolving concepts and practices of cultural diplomacy. They are Professor Jocelyn Chey (former Cultural Counsellor in China, Consul General in Hong Kong and founding Director of ACIAC), Distinguished Professor Ien Ang (founding Director of the Institute for Culture and Society, and ACIAC key researcher), and Professor Nicholas Jose (former Cultural Counsellor in China, and well-known writer). Drawing on their research, practice, and successful personal careers, the three speakers will address the historical evolution of cultural diplomacy as a new paradigm of international relations; the history and contemporary development of cultural diplomacy between Australia and China; and literary exchange as a particularly interesting case in Australia-China cultural diplomacy.

The value of cultural diplomacy is reinforced in the light of the new challenges and opportunities in Australia-China relations. Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture is devoted to facilitating cultural exchange and cultural diplomacy through research, engagement and teaching. Our new Master program of Chinese Cultural Relations aims to cultivate the next generation of cultural navigators and prepare them for a professional career in these thriving fields. This public seminar offers an opportunity for attendees to discuss key issues facing cultural diplomacy between Australia and China and to hear from practitioners/academics how the exchange of ideas and communication in arts and culture can enhance mutual understanding and trust between peoples.


3:00 - 3:10pm Welcome and introduction  
3:10 - 3:40pm

Session 1: Cultural Diplomacy, Soft Power and Cultural Relations

In this talk Professor Ang will provide a broad overview of what is meant by ‘cultural diplomacy’, how it has evolved in the past few decades, and what it means in today’s globalised world. She will discuss the rise of the concept of ‘soft power’ in this context, and how it is being used by countries around the world, including Australia and China; as well as the benefits and limitations of the idea of soft power when applying it to cultural diplomacy. In particular, she will focus on the importance of cultural diplomacy not just as a means of projecting soft power, but as a way of enhancing sustained, mutually beneficial and reciprocal cultural relations between countries.

Distinguished Professor Ien Ang
3:40 - 4:10pm

Session 2: History and contemporary development of cultural diplomacy between Australia and China

Cultural exchanges between Australia and China have greatly expanded in scope over the last 40 years. The main trends will be identified and some examples cited. The objectives of cultural diplomacy have also changed as the political and economic relationship has developed. Historical events have shaped public perceptions on both sides as well as public diplomacy agendas. People movements have increased and Australian society has been enriched by many migrants, students and business investors from China. Against this background, artists on both sides have found inspiration in contact with different cultures and have been inspired to new heights of creativity.

Professor Jocelyn Chey
4:10 - 4:40pm

Session 3: Reading Each Other: A case study of Australia-China literary exchange

Many Australian books, including novels and other literary works, have been translated and published in China since diplomatic relations were established 45 years ago. There were many more before that, including publications in Chinese elsewhere. Chinese books are widely available in English in Australia, including some works by living Chinese writers that have been translated or published in Australia. This two-way exchange is enhanced by the participation of visiting writers in festivals and seminars, such as the Australian Writers’ Week in China now in its 20th year, the OzAsia Festival in Australia and the China Australia Literary Forum between the Chinese Writers’ Association and Western Sydney University. Much of this activity receives official support from government agencies in the two countries. It also involves working with translators, publishers, arts administrators and academics through less official channels.  How does it all happen and why? How have policy and practice developed over the decades? What are the outcomes? How can literary exchange help us to read each other better?

Professor Nicholas Jose
4:40 - 6:00pmFood and drink in ACIAC 


Distinguished Professor Ien Ang

Distinguished Professor Ien Ang was the founding director of the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, where she now works as a research professor. Her work deals broadly with patterns of cultural flow and exchange in our globalised world, focusing on issues such as the politics of identity and difference; migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism in Australia and Asia; and issues of representation in contemporary cultural institutions. Her books include Desperately Seeking the Audience (1991) On not speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West (2001). She was co-author of the report Smart Engagement with Asia: Leveraging Language, Research and Culture (2016) for the Australian Council for Learned Academies, and of a forthcoming book on Sydney’s Chinatown entitled Chinatown Unbound: Transnational Urbanism in the Age of China (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019).

Professor Jocelyn Chey

Jocelyn Chey is Professor in the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University and a Visiting Professor in the School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney. Her current research fields include cultural diplomacy with special relevance to China and Taiwan, and the cultural aspects of Chinese humour. She has co-authored and co-edited two books on humour, and published on cultural diplomacy and Chinese international relations.

Over forty years of working on China relations for the Australian government, she served as China Relations Officer in the Department of Overseas Trade before being posted to Beijing as the first Australian Cultural Counsellor. She was the first Executive Director of the Australia-China Council 1979-1984, Senior Trade Commissioner in Beijing 1985-88 and Consul General to Hong Kong 1992-95. From 1988 to 1992 she was the Director of the China Branch of the International Wool Secretariat.

Jocelyn Chey was awarded the Australia-China Council Medal for contributions to the development of relations between Australia and China in 2008 and in 2009 honoured with the Medal of Australia and also made a Fellow of the Institute of International Affairs.

Professor Nicholas Jose

Nicholas Jose has published seven novels, including Paper Nautilus (1987), The Red Thread (2000) and Original Face (2005), three collections of short stories, Black Sheep: Journey to Borroloola (a memoir), and essays, mostly on Australian and Asian culture. He was Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy Beijing, 1987-90 and Visiting Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University, 2009-10. He is Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide, where he is a member of the J M Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, and Adjunct Professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University.