What do middle-class citizens in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) think of the developments in their society? What about their views of their country’s international image and foreign policy? How do top PRC experts evaluate the state of the PRC economy? These are questions discussed during China Matters’ inaugural ‘PRC Study Tour’ last week in Beijing.

A key objective of China Matters is to help elected officials in Australia better understand the rise of the PRC and the complexities of the Australia-China relationship. This inaugural study tour was one of many activities China Matters has undertaken to fulfil this goal.

China Matters was established to advance sound China policy and improve communication on sticky policy issues between senior public officials, Members of Parliament and business executives. True to this goal, the participants of the inaugural three-day study tour (4-7 September) included The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Mr Julian Leeser MP, and Mr Andrew Parker, Partner and Asia Practice leader at PwC Australia, and a Board Director of China Matters. The group was led by China Matters Founding Director and CEO, Ms Linda Jakobson. China Matters funded the travel expenses of both parliamentarians.

The study tour was an unofficial visit. Over the course of three days the group met informally with mostly people Linda Jakobson knew and had numerous interactions with during the 22 years she worked and lived in the PRC.

The China Matters study tour project had the endorsement of Dr Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; H.E. Ms Jan Adams, Australia’s Ambassador to the PRC; and H.E. Mr Cheng Jingye, the PRC’s Ambassador to Australia.

This inaugural study tour was a trial. Six to twelve participants will be included in future study tours. An equal number of politicians from both major parties will be joined by senior business executives.