Engaging Chinese media professionals
Making connections - Chinese media delegates' visit November 2011
The project of engaging Chinese media, sponsored by the Australia-China Council (ACC), started on 19th and concluded on 29th November, 2011. The project partners were Macquarie University, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Tsinghua International Center for Communication (TICC). Four Chinese delegates from three Chinese national media (nominated by TICC) participated in a one-week program at Macquarie University and ABC that exposed them to aspects of Australian education, politics, media, economics, technology, science and culture.
The four Chinese delegates were drawn from China's Central Television Station (CCTV), China Daily and Health Times.
The objectives of the dialogical program were to see how the frames (perceptions) the participants held in their heads prior to coming to Australia may have diversified during the program of engagements in Australia.
A round of questionnaires had previously been administered at Tsinghua University in April 2011. A second round of questionnaires was conducted in Sydney before participation in the programs actually began, in order to confirm initial individual perceptions about Australia.
The program commenced with the Daruganora Research-led learning program designed by Dr Kristina Everett. Her lecture introduced Chinese participants to the history of Australian Aboriginal people and culture. Dozens of Aboriginal people were invited to the lecture. After the lecture, the delegates participated in a 'World Café' after a guided tour, by Senior Curator of the Macquarie Art Gallery, Rhonda Jenkins, of Aboriginal paintings exhibited in Y3A. The Daruganora Research-led learning program furnished the journalists with a brand new perspective on Aboriginal culture and arts. The delegates considered the program as an informative and inspiring program through which to learn about aboriginal culture; some of them expressed an interest in visiting an Aboriginal community in Sydney to learn more about their life and thoughts.
The delegates visited the Art Gallery of NSW to further explore Australian art and followed this with an exploration of The Rocks and an afternoon on the beach at Manly.
Then Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Kevin Rudd MP had an informal meeting with the Chinese delegates on 17th November at Parliament House in Canberra. Mr.Rudd welcomed the Chinese delegates and commended the project as one of the ways the Sino-Australian relationship is nurtured. During the meeting, the Chinese journalists asked candid questions about the Sino-Australian relationship in relation to President Obama's visit to Australia and about expectations for the then upcoming Durban United Nations Climate Change Conference. Mr. Rudd asserted the significance of Sino-Australian relationship at both the governmental level and people-to-people level and expressed an optimistic view of the triangular Australia-US-China relationship.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Hon Julie Bishop MP also received the delegates and discussed with them the perspective of Liberal Party on the Sino-Australian relationship.
Former ABC Chairman (Chairman of the ABC at the time and former Chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange) Mr. Maurice Newman AC, gave a lecture about Australia's integration into the Asian economy to the delegates. Mr. Newman emphasized the importance of Australia engaging in the Asian economy, especially with China:
"China is Australia's largest trade partner, Australia greatly benefits from its proximity to China, being closer to China than it is to Brazil. Australia is also important to the Chinese economy. It is the sixth largest exporter to China. Australia will continue its integration with Chinese economy into food, carbon tax and technology and so on. " Xianmin Gao, producer of the "Half an Hour" economics program of CCTV noted that "the Australian economy is dependent on the Chinese market to some extent. In China, interest rates, commodity prices and exchange rates are the most important economic indicators. At present, the exchange rate is a very severe problem in China. The government has spent a great deal of RMB in order to maintain a low rate, but this leads to inflation on the other hand. Australia should be well prepared to encounter the Chinese market turbulence." The delegates had a discussion with Mr. Newman about issues such as media freedom, Chinese cultural influence in the west and how western media report China.
Librarian Ms Maxine Brody took them on a guided tour of the new state-of-the-art library at Macquarie University. The automatic book retrieval was described as "really amazing" by Ning Yang, chief editor of CCTV English News Channel.
Dr.Yi Ren, Director of Higher Degree Research at Macquarie University provided delegates with an overview of the Australian doctoral research sector and structures and processes at Macquarie University.
The delegates visited Macquarie University Hospital and Clinic and were shown the new technology in the hospital particularly in the Cardiology department. The Head of Cardiology, Professor Hosen Kiat spoke to delegates about cardiology research in Australia and China.
The delegates attended a research workshop on the last day at Macquarie University. Sessions covered environmental science, innovation and technology, social and cultural inclusion, economic development and demographic change. Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Jim Piper opened the session. Professor Tim Flannery, Professor Stephen Crain, Professor Philip Newell, Professor Nick Mansfield, Associate Professor Fei Guo, Dr Peng Zhou, Likan Zhan, Dianlin Huang and Hau-Ren addressed the delegates.
The delegates participated in a program of activities at the ABC from 22nd to 28th November.
After a first day at the ABC of introductory briefings, including an overview of the Australian media landscape and the ABC's place within it, the delegates received detailed briefings on the different output areas of radio, television and online. The ABC's international service Australia Network and Radio Australia also spent time with the delegates. Radio Australia, which broadcasts and is online in 9 languages, made its Chinese Service editor available via videoconference from Melbourne.
The following couple of days were spent discussing editorial policies, with an emphasis on the ABC's obligation to report news fairly, independently and in a balanced way. Delegates met a number of political journalists, as well as well known program makers such as Robyn Williams and Geraldine Doogue. The meetings provided the delegates with an opportunity to further explore the ABC's program making and content creation processes. The delegates watched 7.30 go live to air from the control room, and on a lighter note, watched a rehearsal of the ABC's successful children's program, Giggle & Hoot. Another highlight of the week at the ABC was a trip to ABC Newcastle, one of a network of 60 local ABC stations. Local staff showed the delegates the strong online presence of the station, and the delegates gained an understanding of the links between local stations and their communities.
The week also included a Charteris dinner with the Hon Kevin Rudd MP as the speaker, and a visit to the NSW Parliament House, where delegates met with the NSW Minister for Multicultural Affairs and observed question time.
At the conclusion of the program a further questionnaire was administered to participants in order to measure diversification of frames during the program. Results of the research will be published once project data has been analysed.