A report on the second China trip from 19 to 24 August 2018
Conducted by Professor Dr. Lee Lai To, Senior Professor and Director of Asian Research Center for International Development (ARCID), and Aj Chalongrat Charoensri, Lecturer, School of Social Innovation, Mae Fah Luang University
To continue the promotion of academic exchange and cooperation under the China Watch project, the second China trip was conducted from 19 to 24 August 2018. The major purpose of the trip was to link up with some of leading Institutes/ Schools/ Departments on contemporary Chinese studies in Southern China, Hong Kong and Macau. Aj Chalongrat Charoensri could not get his official passport in time to visit China. As a result, he just joined the trips to Hong Kong and Macau.
The first stop, conducted by Professor Lee Lai To alone, was to visit Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) and Jinan Univesity (JU) in Guangzhou.
For SYSU, Professor Lee had a long meeting with Professor Pan Yining from the School of International Studies talking about the present state of Southeast Asian Studies at the University. According to Professor Pan, the President of the University did not want to emphasize Southeast Asian Studies, except selected hot issues like the South China Sea. Even for these hot issues, he would suport scientific research an not so much political or strategic studies. As a result, the Southeast Asian hands have been dispersed to join different Schools and Departments. In other words, there is no core group of Southeast Asian specialists working for an Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at SYSU. As such, it is not likely that we could have institutional cooperation with SYSU. Nonetheless, we may tap the expertise of individual pfofessors if they can fit into our research agenda. It was the summer break for the University and some staff members like Professor Ding, Prefessor Fan Ruolan and others were not on campus.
For JU, a sizeble group of professors turned up to see Professor Lee in spite of the summer break. These inculded Zhang Zhenjiang, Dean of School of International Studies, Professor Chen Jianrong, VIce Dean of Department of International Politics, Professor Zhuang Liwei, Director of Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Professor Chen Dingding, Associate Dean, Institute for 21st Century Silk Road Studies, and Ms Wu Hongjuan, Associate Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. Apparently, JU will continue to emhasize Southeast Asian Studies. After all, this is the area that JU is famous for. From the discussions, it was agreed that we could initiate the process of working for a MOU between ARCID at MFU and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at JU. The Dean, Professor Zhang, seemd to be very supportive of this initiative.
The second stop was Hong Kong. The Head of Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong, Professor Richard Hu, was supposed to meet Professor Lee Lai To and Aj Chalongrat Charoensri on 22 August in the morning. Unfortunately, he had to leave in a hurry for China because of urgent family matters. He seemed to be interested in talking about academic cooperation with ARCID as he had one or two staff members working on Myanmar and/or China and the Mekong region. He also had staff members working on China and the Asia-Pacific region. In this regard, he suggested to have a skype meeting to see if we could work together. While we missed Professor Hu, we had an interesting meeting with Professor Jogn Burns, Honorary Professor of Department of Politics and Public Administration and former Dean o Facaulty of Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. Professor Burns congratulated us for producing the ARCID Policy Brief and ARCID China Update. He encouraged us to talk to Professor Richard Hu to see if there could be opportunities for us to work together. He is an authority on Hong Kong developments and his current research project is on highher education in Hong Kong.
Our final stop was Macau. We had a meeting with Professor Yufan Hao, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chair Professor of Government and Public Administration and Director of Center for Chinese History and Culture at the Univesity of Macau (UM). Professor Hao's Faculty has a few established China specialists. In this regard, we talked about the possibilities of promoting cooperation in Southeast Asian and contemporary Chinese Studies. We concluded that we could start with a MOU between ARCID at MFU and Center for Chinese History and Culture at UM.
On the whole, the second China trip has helped ARCID to be known in some of the best universities in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau. Hopefully, we could tap the expertise in these academic institutes to join some of the activities hosted by ARCID. From the meetings and discussions, steps have been taked to initiate institutional links (MOUs) with selected reserch institutes/ centers.