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Congratulations to Dr Sophia Loy-Wilson, on her 2014 Endeavour Research Fellowship which enables her to go to China for 6 months to complete research into the historical and cultural context of Chinese development aid to Melanesia. She will be using archives at the Chinese Institute of Social Sciences and Beijing University Library.
Sophia's project analyses the historical and cultural context of Chinese aid to the Pacific. China has long had an aid program, but its pledges to the Pacific have increased markedly since 2003. Despite the acknowledged importance of this Chinese aid to some of Australia's nearest neighbours - and largest recipients of our own aid - we do not know enough about the Chinese thinking and policy considerations driving this trend.
"My doctoral research found that Chinese perceptions of trade and business are influenced by cultural values embedded in historical experience. Similarly, Chinese attitudes to aid and development are formed within an historical and cultural context and may differ from Australian attitudes. The standard Mandarin expression for 'foreign aid' - jishu hezuo or 'technical assistance' - itself suggests a quite different concept. To assess accurately the implications for Australia of this Chinese aid to neighbouring states, a clearer understanding of these motivations and attitudes is critical."
"I plan to carry out research in Beijing involving both quantitative and qualitative elements. Given the opaqueness of the Chinese policy process, access to policy documents may be problematic. However, there is a considerable body of Chinese material about Chinese aid and the thinking that underpins it is available.
I plan to gather and analyse Chinese-language documents, academic works and media commentary pertaining to Chinese aid to the Pacific, concentrating on the library holdings of two of China's leading research institutions: Beijing University and the Chinese Institute of Social Sciences."
"Useful perspectives and insights into aid Chinese policy and its underpinnings may be obtained from Chinese and non-Chinese professionals working in the aid sector in China so I would intend to interview as many of these specialists as possible."
Read Sophia's 'diary entry' from her trip to PNG last year.
ADRI has a strong interest in 'Australia and Change in Asia and The Pacific'.