My China Story: Richard McGregor

Date: Thursday 25 August 2022

Time: 4:00 - 6:00 pm

Venue: IAC at Building EA, Western Sydney University Parramatta South Campus

Corner of Victoria Road and James Ruse Drive, Parramatta, NSW 2150

The Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture (IAC) has launched a distinctive, face-to-face conversation series entitled My China Story. The aim is to build an understanding of multifaceted China through sharing lived experiences and insightful stories from China by Australians from a wide range of fields and professions. We are thrilled to announce that Episode Three will feature one of the foremost experts on China and East Asia, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Richard McGregor.

Richard McGregor has a distinguished career as a journalist, researcher and author in Australia and internationally. He is a Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute, Australia’s leading foreign policy think tank. He was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a top think tank in the world in Washington D.C. (2015) and a visiting scholar at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University (2016). Richard has lectured widely in the United States, Asia, Europe and the Pacific on Chinese politics and foreign policy.

Richard started his journalistic career as a student at the University of Sydney by writing for Honi Soit, the student newspaper; Glebe & Western Weekly, covering local council politics; and Rolling Stone magazine, writing about rock music. After graduation, he worked at The Sydney Morning Herald and later the ABC while studying Chinese part-time. In 1989, he moved to Taiwan to work as a freelancer and his work included delivering the morning news on the old US Armed Forces radio station. Richard was then posted to Japan for the ABC. After five years in Tokyo, he moved to Hong Kong and then Beijing to establish the Beijing office for The Australian from 1995 to 1998. After two years back in Canberra as the political correspondent for The Australian, Richard was hired by the British newspaper, The Financial Times, as a bureau chief in Shanghai and then Beijing (2000 to 2009). This was the period when China joined the world trading system and took off, growing at 10% plus a year. China became the workshop-of-the-world, which meant, for a reporter for The Financial Times, spending a lot of time in factories. Following that, Richard worked for The Financial Times in London and then as Washington bureau chief for four years (2011 to 2015).

In 2010, Richard published his bestseller, The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers. It was described as a “masterpiece” by The Economist and won numerous awards including the Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award in New York for the best book on Asia and the Mainichi Shimbun Award in Japan. This book was translated into seven languages. In 2017, Richard published his next book Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of US Power in the Pacific Century. The book was described as “shrewd and knowing” by The Wall Street Journal, and a “compelling and impressive” read by The Economist. It won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in Australia (2018).

In this conversation, Richard will share his stories on his fascination over China and Asia, and his many insights into Chinese society and the Party.

The session will be opened by Professor Jocelyn Chey AM, the founding director of IAC and Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney. Professor Chey was Cultural Counsellor in the Australia Embassy in Beijing (1975–1978); Senior Trade Commissioner in the Australian Embassy in Beijing (1985–1988); and Consul-General for Australia in Hong Kong (1992–1995). The program will conclude with Chinese Music Appreciation 3: A historical and contemporary account of the yangqin, featuring the highly accomplished yangqin performer Hu Lei 胡磊 and her students.

Chinese Music Appreciation 3: A historical and contemporary account of the yangqin

The yangqin is an important Chinese instrument with a significant solo repertory. It often holds a lead role in small and large ensembles in China and throughout the Sinosphere. Imminent yangqin master Ms Hu Lei introduces us to this instrument, from its arrival in 17th century China as the Persian sanṭūr to its modern day form and construction. She is assisted by three of her students from the Western Sydney region.

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Biographies

 

Richard McGregor

During a workaday Arts degree at Sydney University in the late 1970s, Richard began working as a journalist for Honi Soit, a student newspaper; Glebe & Western Weekly, covering local council politics; and Rolling Stone magazine, writing about rock music. After graduation, briefly as a rock music promoter and playing in a band before obtaining a job at The Sydney Morning Herald and later the ABC in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. During this time, he studied Chinese part-time.

Tired of waiting for an overseas posting, he moved to Taiwan in 1989 to work as a freelancer. This included delivering the morning news on the old US Armed Forces radio station and witnessing at first hand Taiwan’s emerging democracy, which, decades later, became one of the island’s biggest trump cards in dealing with Beijing.

Instead of being sent to China, Richard was posted to Japan for the ABC, before leaving the broadcaster station to open an office for The Australian. After five years in Tokyo, he moved to Hong Kong and then Beijing to establish the paper’s Beijing office (1995 to 1998).

From 1998, he spent two years back in Canberra as the paper’s political correspondent and was thenhired by the British paper, The Financial Times, as a bureau chief in Shanghai and then Beijing (2000 to 2009). This was the period when China joined the world trading system and took off, growing at 10% plus a year. China became the workshop-of-the-world, which meant, for a reporter for the Financial Times, spending a lot of time in factories. Following that, Richard worked for The Financial Times in London and then as Washington bureau chief for four years (2011 to 2015).

His book The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers, published in 2010, was a bestseller and described as a “masterpiece” by The Economist. It won numerous awards, including the Asia Society in New York Award for best book on Asia (2011), and the Mainichi Shimbun Award in Japan. This book was translated into seven languages. His next book, Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of US Power in the Pacific Century, published in 2017, was described as “shrewd and knowing” by The Wall Street Journal, and a “compelling and impressive” read by The Economist. It won the Prime Minister’s award for Non-Fiction in Australia (2018).

Richard was a Wilson Center Fellow in Washington D.C. (2015) and a visiting scholar at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University (2016). Richard has lectured widely, in the United States, Asia, Europe and the Pacific on Chinese politics and foreign policy. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia’s leading foreign policy think tank.

 
 

Professor Jocelyn Chey AM

Jocelyn Chey is Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and UTS and Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney. She was the founding Director of the Institute for Chinese and Australian Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University from 2016-17. Her career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spanned thirty years from the 1970s to 90s and she held many distinguished diplomatic appointments, including Cultural Counsellor in the Australia Embassy in Beijing (1975–1978); Senior Trade Commissioner in the Australian Embassy in Beijing (1985–1988); and Consul-General for Australia in Hong Kong (1992–1995). Professor Chey was also the key administrative officer in the Australia-China Council at the time it was founded in 1979. From 1988–1992 she worked as the Director of the China Branch of the International Wool Secretariat. She was awarded the Medal of Australia (AM) in 2009 and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute for International Affairs.

 
 

Hu Lei 胡磊

Hu Lei is a highly renowned yangqin performer. She studied under the late Professor Qian Fangping, yangqin performer and educator, and was admitted to the China Conservatory of Music with honours in 1983 under Chinese yangqin, educator and composer Professor Xiang Zuhua. After graduating in 1987, she became a folk music teacher at the China Dance Academy. In 1989, she arrived in Australia and was invited to play in many festivals and recorded for film. Mrs Hu has taught and performed on the yangqin for more than 30 years, and established the "Chinese Style * Music Workshop", focusing on cultivating Chinese teenagers in Australia to learn and inherit the national music culture. Since 2015, she has been teaching the yangqin at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Many of her students have achieved high scores in the HSC music examinations. Lei has won gold medals in international music competitions and achieved excellent exam results in both China and Australia. Since 2016, she has been principal yangqin in the Hua Music Troupe and has adjudicated the "Talent Family" Australian Youth Talent Competition for Xinkuai Media since 2019. In October of the same year, she led an ensemble of students to represent Australia in the World Dulcimer Conference for the first time. Since 2020, she has served as a member of the Central Conservatory of Music Overseas Grade Examination - Australia Regional Professional Committee.