A report on the first China trip from 21 to 30 April 2018
Conducted by Professor Dr. Lee Lai To, Senior Professor and Director of Asian Research Center for International Development (ARCID), School of Social Innovation, Mae Fah Luang University
As part and parcel of the Academic Exchange Program under the China Watch Project, the first China trip was conducted from 21 to 30 April 2018. The major purpose of the trip was to link up with some of the Leading Research Centers/Schools at respectable universities and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in China.
The first stop was Beijing where Professor Lee met with scholars and students at the School of International Studies (SIS) of Peking University on 23 April and researchers at the Center for Regional Security Studies (CRSS) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on 24 April. At SIS, Professor Lee had a discussion with the Dean, Professor Jia Qingguo, about the China Watch Project. He also met with Professor Wei Min and Professor Chen Shaofeng, both working on issues related to ASEAN. Professor Jia indicated that he would discuss with his colleagues working on ASEAN and see how they could join our project. Professor Lee also had the opportunity to see Ph.D. student from Thailand and learnt from her that there are about 30 Thai graduate students with scholarships from China or Thailand working for their Ph.D.s or M.A.s at Peking University. Professor Lee was supposed to see Professor Zhai Kun at SIS. Unfortunately, Professor Zhai was called up for an urgent meeting at the last minute and could not stay on campus at the time of Professor Lee’s visit. On 24 April, Professor Lee was received by Zhang Yunling, Director of International Studies of CASS and director of CRSS, CASS together with his deputy, Mr. Guo Lijun, Professor Zhang is an authoritative figure in Asia-Pacific studies. In spite of his busy schedule, he rushed back to Beijing to see Professor Lee. The meeting with Professor Zhang was useful as he volunteered to help us to look for speakers from China to attend our functions. He may even consider joining our symposium at the end of this year.
The second stop was Shanghai where Professor Lee met with administrators of the Center for China’s Relations with Neighboring Countries (CCRNC), Institute of International Studies at Fudan University on 26 April. According to Ms. Hu Yangyu, Research Secretary of CCRNC and Dr. Zhang Qun from the Institute of International Studies, there are some scholars working on project related to our program. They provided some e-mail address of these scholars who may be interested to learn more about our project. Professor Shi Yuanhua, Director of CCRNC, was not in town at the time of Professor Lee’s visit.
The final stop was Xiamen. Professor Wu Congbo in charge of international academic exchange at Xiamen University was supposed to received Professor Lee on campus on 28 April. Unfortunately, Professor Wu was suddenly hospitalized for and operation slightly before Professor Lee’s visit. Luckily, Professor Liao Shaolian, a senior professor whom Professor Lee knows well, volunteered to cover Professor Wu’s responsibilities. Professor Liao, together with two junior scholars, had a rather lengthy discussion about our China program with Professor Lee in the latter’s hotel. While there seem to be some interest in what we are doing in Thailand, it remains to be seen if there are scholars at Xiamen University wanting to join our research programs.
On the whole, the visit to Beijing was most useful at the links with SIS at Peking University and CRSS at CASS could be trapped to support our China Watch Project. The interest in ASEAN studies in Shanghai, as demonstrated by activities at CCRNC, or for that matter, Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, does not seem to be strong. Xiamen University, especially its Center for Southeast Asia Studies, is supposed to be a leading institution for Southeast Asian Studies in China. Perhaps another visit to Xiamen University would be helpful in exploring a bit more about the possibilities of promoting academic exchange and cooperation between ARCID and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University. Hopefully, Professor Wu Congbo in charge of international academic exchange will be healthy enough to have an in-depth discussion with us.