Australia-China Relations Institute responds to questions on research and funding

The Conversation sought response from the Australia-China Relations Institute based at the University of Technology Sydney in relation to analysis questioning their research, funding and reporting.

Does (or has) the ACRI use other research methods apart from surveys?

Laurenceson, et al. (2015), published in Agenda: a journal of policy analysis and refor, uses choice-modelling statistical techniques to analyse Australian public preferences towards foreign investment.

Ma and Laurenceson (2016), forthcoming in Singapore Economic Review, used econometric panel regression techniques to study the determinants of debt levels across countries, with a focus on China.

Shi and Sun (2017), published in Energy Economics, uses a two-sector theoretical growth model, as well as econometric methods, to study energy prices, regulatory price distortion and economic growth in China.

Other examples of ACRI researchers drawing on a variety of methods appropriate to the research questions being asked, are available on ACRI’s website.

As for the research reports that ACRI commissions the individual scholars, the very best in their field, are given complete autonomy to determine appropriate research methods. This can be verified by simply getting in touch with the scholars themselves, who are outside of ACRI, and in most cases outside of UTS.

Scholars include:

  • Nick Bisley (Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations, La Trobe University); Brendan Taylor (Head, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University)

  • Kerry Brown (Director of the Lau China Institute and Professor of Chinese Studies, King’s College London)

  • Wanning Sun (Professor of Media and Communications, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney)

  • Jane Orton (Honorary Fellow and consultant to immersion Chinese language programs, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne)

  • Colin Hawes (Associate Professor and Director of Courses, Law Faculty, University of Technology Sydney)

  • Colin Brown (A/Professor in agricultural and resource economics, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland), Brooke Edwards (analyst, Sugar Research Australia), John Longworth (Emeritus Professor, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland), Scott Waldron (Senior Research Fellow, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland)

  • John Larkindale (President of the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand) and scholars from the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre

Does ACRI (or would you) provide the source data for studies displayed on your website?

Consistent with standard academic practice, all data sources that ACRI researchers use are thoroughly and explicitly referenced in the research output itself. For example, Ma and Laurenceson (2016) cites data drawn from the Bank of International Settlements.

This data is publicly available so there seems little point also hosting it on the ACRI website. The data underpinning other ACRI research, such as Laurenceson, et al. (2015) was collected by colleagues in the UTS Business School using, as the paper states, “…the Australian panel of a global online data panel company…”.

In principle, ACRI has no problem in making this data available on ACRI’s website, but would need to confirm with UTS Business School colleagues as they had to pay normal commercial rates to obtain it and so may be sensitive to issues around intellectual property.

Is the ACRI frequently visited by Chinese Community Party officials?

No.

Have ACRI produced an annual report and if so is this publicly available? and do you publicly disclose the organisation’s budget?

ACRI is one of more than 100 research centres within UTS. Across Australia, university research centres that operate wholly within their university are not required to complete separate annual reports or disclose separate financials. Rather, their financial affairs and governance are managed as part of the university through a robust framework of policy and state government legislation, and included in all formal university-wide reporting.

Does UTS fully fund the ACRI?

ACRI’s operational costs are fully funded by UTS. ACRI is also supported by corporate contributions via ACRI’s Chairman’s Council.

If so (see above) what is the role of the Chinese companies on the chairman’s council?

There are 17 Australian companies and four Chinese-linked companies on ACRI’s Chairman’s Council. They are listed on ACRI’s website. They do not determine ACRI research activities.

ACRI’s Management Committee monitors the institute’s activities and performance, and approves the budget and strategic direction of ACRI’s research and other programs.

The Management Committee is headed by UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Advancement) Professor William Purcell and comprises Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Glenn Wightwick, UTS Director of International Leo Mian Liu, ACRI Director Professor the Hon Bob Carr, ACRI Deputy Director Professor James Laurenceson and UTS Law Faculty Associate Professor and Director of Courses Colin Hawes.

The institute’s day to day activities and the strategic actions of the Management Committee and Members are bound by UTS policies and procedures relating to academic integrity, independence and transparency.

Who funds the trips organised by ACRI for journalists to visit China?

ACRI trips to China for journalists are paid from the donations by members of the ACRI Chairman’s Council. None had been funded with a donation from a Chinese company.

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