Who We Are

China Matters is an independent organisation that strives to advance sound China policy. We are unique in Australia. We engage business executives, public servants, politicians, and university leaders about challenging policy choices in the Australia-China relationship. We generate public debate about Australia’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China, which aims to inject nuance and realism into discussions. On the basis of solid China expertise and Chinese-language sources, we research problematic policy issues with the goal of formulating recommendations and providing analysis on how these policy challenges are viewed in Beijing.

China Matters does not have an institutional view.

Board of Directors

  • Stephen FitzGerald
    photo

    Stephen FitzGerald AO

    Board of Directors

    Stephen FitzGerald began his professional career as a diplomat, studied Chinese and became a career China specialist. He was China adviser to Gough Whitlam, and Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and concurrently to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In 1980 he established the first private consultancy for Australians dealing with China, which continued until 2010. Since the late 1960s, Professor FitzGerald has worked for policy reform in Australia’s relations with Asia, and for Asia Literacy for Australians. He chaired the 1980s committee of the Asian Studies Association of Australia on Asian Studies and Languages in Australian Education, and the government’s Asian Studies Council, which in 1988 wrote A National Strategy for the Study of Asia in Australia. In the same year, he chaired the government’s Committee to Advise on Australia’s Immigration Policies, which wrote the landmark report, Immigration. A Commitment to Australia. He was head of the ANU’s Department of Far Eastern History and also of its Contemporary China Centre in the 1970s. In 1990 he founded and until 2005 chaired the UNSW’s Asia-Australia Institute, dedicated to making Australia part of the Asian region through think-tank activities and ideas-generation by regional leaders meeting in informal discussion.

     

    Professor FitzGerald has been consultant to the Queensland and Northern Territory governments on the introduction of Asian languages to the school curriculum, consultant to Monash, Melbourne and Griffith universities on mainstreaming Asia in university studies, Chair of the Griffith Asia Institute, and Research Strategy Director of UTS’s China Research Centre. He is currently a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and a Honorary Fellow at the China Studies Centre at Sydney University. He has also been awarded two Honorary Doctorates from Macquarie University and the University of Tasmania.

     

    He has published monographs, reports and articles on China, Asia, Australia’s foreign policy and relations with China and Asia, Asia literacy, and the study of Asia and Asian languages in Australian schools and universities. His most recent publications are Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing EnvoyThe Coup that Laid the Fear of China, and Australia and China at Forty: Stretch of the Imagination. His current research is on the evolution of Australia’s policies and attitudes towards Asia from the 1960s to the present.

     

    Professor FitzGerald was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in January 1984 in recognition of his services to international relations. On 16 March 2017 Professor FitzGerald delivered the Whitlam Oration at the Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University.

  • Allan Gyngell
    photo

    Allan Gyngell AO

    Board of Directors

    Allan Gyngell is an honorary professor at the Australian National University (ANU) College of Asia and the Pacific, Director of the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum, and National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA). He was the Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) from July 2009 until April 2013 and, prior to that, the founding Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy (2003-09). Professor Gyngell has a wide background in international policymaking and analysis and has written and spoken extensively on Australian foreign policy, Asian regional relations and the development of global and regional institutions. Between 1993 and 1996, he was foreign policy adviser in the office of then-Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, and from 1991 until 1993 was First Assistant Secretary in the International Division of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Professor Gyngell also spent a number of years as an analyst with ONA, where he worked on Southeast Asian issues (1978-80) and headed the branch dealing with great power relations at the end of the Cold War (1984-89).

     

    Professor Gyngell was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2009 for services to international relations. He was named a Fellow of the AIIA in 2010. He is co-author (with Michael Wesley) of Making Australian Foreign Policy (Cambridge University Press). He is also author of Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World since 1942 (La Trobe University Press, April 2017).

  • Peter Hendy
    photo

    The Hon Dr Peter Hendy

    Board of Directors

    The Hon Dr Peter Hendy presently runs his own economic consultancy and is a company director.  He is also currently a commissioner at the Commonwealth Grants Commission.  Dr Hendy was previously the Member for Eden-Monaro in the Federal Parliament, and during this time was Assistant Minister for Finance, Assistant Minister for Productivity, and Assistant Cabinet Secretary.

     

    Immediately prior to entering Parliament he was the Principal Advisor (Foreign Affairs and Trade) for the Hon Julie Bishop MP.  He was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is a former chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (Australia) and vice president designate of the Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), Executive Director of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, and has represented business at the OECD.

     

    Dr Hendy has also served as the Chief Economist in the Prime Minister’s Office.  In the past he has been chief of staff of the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Employment and the Minister for Education.  He started his career in the Australian Treasury.  In 2003 he was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to Australian society in business leadership.  He is the author of the books Captains of Industry (MUP, 2008) and Why Australia Slept: Why Australia Is in Danger of Sleepwalking Into the Future (CCP, 2018).

  • Linda Jakobson (Deputy Chair)
    photo

    Linda Jakobson

    Board of Directors

    Linda Jakobson is Founding Director and Deputy Chair of China Matters. She has lived and worked in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for 22 years. Her last job before moving to Sydney in 2011 was the Beijing-based director of the Program for China and Global Security for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Prior to founding China Matters in 2015 she served as director of the East Asia Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy; and as a visiting professor at the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University.

     

    She has been a student of Chinese politics and the foreign and security policy of the PRC for the past 35 years. She is internationally known for her publications about the PRC’s foreign policy, in particular those about new foreign policy actors; cross-Strait relations, and the PRC’s Arctic ambitions. Ms Jakobson, a Mandarin speaker, is the author of five books about the PRC and East Asia. She has served as a policy advisor on China to governments in seven countries.

     

    Ms Jakobson, a Finn by nationality and an Australian permanent resident, lives in Pyrmont NSW with her husband Chris Lanzit, also a Mandarin speaker. See her website here.

  • Kevin McCann (Chair)
    photo

    Kevin McCann AO

    Board of Directors (Chair)

    Kevin McCann is the Chair of the China Matters Board. He is also Chairman of Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited and the Smith Family Centenary Council. He is a member of the Male Champions of Change, a Presiding Pro Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Co-Vice Chair of the New Colombo Plan Reference Group, a Director of the US Studies Centre and Evans and Partners Advisory Board, a member of the board for the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership, a Governor of Queenwood School for Girls and the Advisory Committee Australian Equities Flagship Fund (sponsored by Evans Dixon). He is a former Chairman of Macquarie Group Limited and Macquarie Bank Limited, Origin Energy Limited, Healthscope Limited and ING Management Limited, Fellow of the University of Sydney and former Chair of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and the National Library of Australia Foundation. Mr McCann practised in Commercial Law as a Partner of Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens) from 1970 to 2004 and was Chairman of Partners from 1995 to 2004.

     

    Mr McCann was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Law, Business and the Community in 2005. He was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2020 for distinguished service to business, to corporate governance, and as an advocate for gender equity.

     

    He has a Bachelor of Arts and Law (Honours) from Sydney University and a Master of Law from Harvard University.

  • Andrew Parker
    photo

    Andrew Parker

    Board of Directors

    Andrew Parker is a Sydney-based Partner at PwC where he leads the Australian firm’s Asia Practice. Mr Parker joined Price Waterhouse in 1985, became a partner in 1999 and spent 12 years in PwC’s London, Moscow and Jakarta offices where he gained considerable experience advising companies investing in foreign (and particularly developing) markets. Mr Parker was previously the leader of PwC’s Asian telecoms industry team. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Asia Society and a non-executive director of the Australia Indonesia Centre at Monash University. Mr Parker was the lead author of PwC’s landmark report on Australia’s lack of business investment in Asia titled ‘Passing us by’.

  • Heather Smith
    photo

    Heather Smith PSM

    Board of Directors

    Dr Heather Smith served as Secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science from 2017 – 2020 and is currently the Deputy Chair of the US Studies Centre Board of Directors. Dr Smith has had 20 years’ experience in the Australian Public Service at senior levels covering economic, foreign affairs and intelligence matters. She has previously served as Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts, Deputy Secretary in the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Foreign Affairs and Trade, and as Deputy Director-General of the Office of National Assessments. She has also held positions in the Australian Treasury and Reserve Bank. She was a G20 Sherpa in 2014 during Australia’s Presidency and was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday 2015 Honours for her service in this role. Before joining the public service Heather was an academic working on North Asia at the Australian National University.

     

    She holds a Bachelor of Economics (First Class Honours) from the University of Queensland and a Masters and PhD in Economics from the Australian National University.

     

  • Michael Wesley
    photo

    Michael Wesley

    Board of Directors

    Professor Michael Wesley is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Melbourne. Previously he was Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University; Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy; Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University; and Assistant Director-General for Transnational Issues at the Office of National Assessments, the Australian government’s peak intelligence agency. His research interests include Australian foreign policy, security dynamics in Asia and the Pacific, and the politics of statebuilding interventions. His 2011 book, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia won the John Button Prize for the best writing on Australian politics and public policy.

     

    Professor Wesley holds a B.A. (Hons) from the University of Queensland and a PhD from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Advisory Council

  • Nick Bisley
    photo

    Nick Bisley

    Advisory Council

    Nick Bisley is Dean and Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University. He was previously the Executive Director of La Trobe Asia. His research and teaching expertise is in Asia’s international relations, globalisation and the diplomacy of great powers. Professor Bisley is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the Secretary of the Council of Australasian Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, and a member of the Council for Security and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. He was previously the Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Journal of International Affairs, Australia’s oldest scholarly journal in the field of International Relations. He has been a Senior Research Associate of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and a Visiting Fellow at the East West-Center in Washington DC.

     

    Professor Bisley is the author of many works on international relations, including Issues in 21st Century World Politics, 3rd Edition (Palgrave, 2017), Great Powers in the Changing International Order (Lynne Rienner, 2012), and Building Asia’s Security (IISS/Routledge, 2009, Adelphi No. 408). He regularly contributes to and is quoted in national and international media including The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Time Magazine.

  • Natalie Cope
    photo

    Natalie Cope

    Advisory Council

    Natalie Cope is the General Manager, Office of the CEO at GenesisCare, Australia’s largest and leading provider of cancer and cardiac care, and the biggest private provider of cancer care in the UK and Spain. In this capacity, she is playing a leading role in advancing the business’ expansion into Asia and in particular China. Prior to this role, Ms Cope was the Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Branch of the Australia China Business Council (ACBC), and previously Manager of Partnerships and Development at Asialink Business.

     

    Ms Cope was Australia’s 2015 Top Emerging Leader and MBA Scholar, receiving the 2015 Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship by the University of Sydney Business School and the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS Magazine. She is the Ambassador of the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, Asian Exchange Program and is a founding member and current Chair of the Australia-China Youth Dialogue.

  • Helen Dai
    photo

    Helen Dai

    Advisory Council

    Helen Dai is Senior Global Engagement Manager at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). She has over a decade of experience serving in the federal government, including as a foreign investment specialist at the Australian Treasury and as departmental liaison officer in a Treasury Minister’s office. Helen started her public service career at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was posted to the Australian Embassy in Jakarta as Second Secretary and Consul. Helen was recognised in the 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian awards in 2019. Helen is passionate about the role of the Arts in catalysing social change. She was recently appointed Treasurer on the board of Griffin Theatre Company in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

     

    Helen majored in Philosophy, Finance and Accounting at the University of Sydney and has a Master of Public Policy in Economic Policy from the Australian National University. Helen is a qualified CPA.

  • Peter Leahy
    photo

    Peter Leahy AC

    Advisory Council

    Peter Leahy concluded his career in the Army in 2008, as Chief of the Army, with the rank of Lieutenant General. He served in this appointment for six years. His period of command was marked by the continuous global deployment of Australian soldiers on high tempo, complex and demanding combat operations. He was also responsible for the rapid expansion and development of the Army to meet the changing demands of modern conflict.

     

    Since leaving the Army, LTGEN Leahy has joined the University of Canberra as a Professor and become the foundation Director of the National Security Institute. He has been appointed to the Boards of Codan Limited, Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited and Citadel Group Limited. Additionally, he is a member of the Defence South Australia Advisory Board, Chairman of the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal Committee in the ACT, Chairman of the charity “Soldier On” and a Trustee of the Prince’s Charities Australia.

  • Jason Yat-sen Li
    photo

    Jason Yat-sen Li

    Advisory Council

    Jason Yat-sen Li is Chairman of investment group Vantage Asia and Managing Director of corporate advisory firm YSA. YSA specialises in complex cross-border, Asia-related M&A and capital raising mandates. Jason is a Fellow of the University of Sydney Senate and Chair of the University’s Risk and Audit Committee. He is President of the Chinese Australian Forum, a director of Asialink, a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on China. He was previously a non-executive director of the George Institute for Global Health, Vice Chair of the Australia-China Chamber of Commerce, a Director of the Sydney Institute and a Governing Member of the Smith Family.

     

    Jason has an Arts-Law degree from the University of Sydney and a Masters of Law from New York University, where he was Australia’s Hauser Global Scholar.

  • John O’Neill
    photo

    John O’Neill AO

    Advisory Council

    John O’Neill is Chairman and Non-Executive Director of The Star Entertainment Group Limited. He was Managing Director of the State Bank of New South Wales, and CEO of Australian Rugby Union (ARU). In 2004, Mr O’Neill joined Football Federation Australia where he established the A-League and took the Socceroos to the 2006 FIFA World Cup for the first time in over 30 years. The following year he returned to the ARU as Managing Director and CEO and was appointed inaugural Chairman of Events NSW. Mr O’Neill was a recipient of the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2004. He has also been awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur and in 2015 he was inducted as a Member into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame for outstanding achievement in rugby union and football.

  • Hugh White
    photo

    Hugh White AO

    Advisory Council

    Hugh White has been Professor of Strategic Studies in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University since 2004.  His work focuses primarily on Australian strategic and defence policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, and global strategic affairs especially as they influence Australia and the Asia-Pacific. Before entering academia he served as a senior advisor to the Australian Government, and also as a senior official in the Department of Defence. His publications include Power Shift: Australia’s future between Washington and Beijing, (2010) and The China Choice: Why America should share power (2012) and How to defend Australia (2019).

     

    Mr White holds a BA from the University of Melbourne and a BPhil from Oxford University.

  • Su-Ming Wong (Chair)
    photo

    Su-Ming Wong (Chair)

    Advisory Council

    Su-Ming Wong is Chairman and CEO of CHAMP Ventures. He is an investment professional with over 35 years’ of direct investment, international corporate advisory and merchant banking experience. He co-founded CHAMP Ventures in 2001, an Australian mid-market private equity funds manager with over $750 million funds under management. He is currently a director of Scentia and Lorna Jane.  He has been chairman/director of over 20 other CHAMP Ventures portfolio companies.

     

    Mr Wong is a Professor of Practice, AGSM & School of Banking and Finance at the UNSW Business School, director of Asia Society Australia and Sydney Writers’ Festival, Member of UNSW Business School Advisory Council and Council Member of American Chamber of Commerce.  He was a member of the Council of University of Technology, Sydney and the Council of VisAsia, NSW Art Gallery. He was a founding director of National ICT Australia, and a member of the Industry Research and Development Board.  He was also a council member of the Australian Venture Capital Association and a member of the South Australian Government’s Venture Capital Board.

     

    He holds a Master of Engineering from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management, UNSW.

Associates

  • Jocelyn Chey
    photo

    Jocelyn Chey

    Associate

    Jocelyn Chey AM was the Founding Director and currently Adjunct Professor at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University. Professor Chey is also an Adjunct Professor at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney and a Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney. She is a former senior diplomat specialising in Australia-China relations. Professor Chey worked in the Departments of Trade and Foreign Affairs for more than twenty years. She was posted three times to China and Hong Kong, concluding with an appointment as Consul-General in Hong Kong (1992-1995). She was the key administrative officer in the Australia-China Council at the time that it was founded in 1979.

     

    Professor Chey was awarded an Australia-China Council Medal for contributions to the development of relations between Australia and China in November 2008. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in 2009 for her community service and contribution to the development of relations with China.

  • John McCarthy
    photo

    John McCarthy AO

    Associate

    John McCarthy is a former Australian career diplomat. He joined the then-Department of External Affairs in 1968. He served as an ambassador in seven countries including Japan, Indonesia, the United States, Thailand, Mexico, and Vietnam. Mr McCarthy is currently a Senior Advisor to Mitsubishi Materials Corporation in Tokyo, and a Senior Advisor to Asialink at the University of Melbourne. Prior to this, he was the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Griffith Asia Institute, Chair of the Australian Australia-India Council, Co-Convenor of the Australian-Indonesia Dialogue and National President of the Australian Institute for International Affairs, where he was also appointed as a Fellow in 2009. He was educated at Cambridge University, is an Officer of the Order of Australia (1999), and has an Honorary Doctorate from Murdoch University (2015) and Griffith University (2018).

  • David Olsson
    photo

    David Olsson

    Associate

    David Olsson is National President and Chair of the Australia China Business Council. He is a former Managing Partner of global law firm King & Wood Mallesons, and is currently their International Director. He has been working with clients in Asia for more than 25 years, and is currently based in Hong Kong. He has been a lead participant in numerous Australia – China bi-lateral initiatives, especially in the area of financial market reform. He is a former chairman of the Australia – China Chamber of Commerce, Beijing. He serves on the Board of the Australia China Council and the Australia China Business Council, Victoria. He is the chairman of the Australian Renminbi Working Group, a private sector led initiative supported by the Australian, Hong Kong and mainland Chinese governments which is looking at renminbi business in Australia.

  • Jonathan Pain
    photo

    Jonathan Pain

    Associate

    Jonathan Pain is a Director of JP Consulting NSW Pty Ltd and has 30 years of international investment experience having led investment teams in London, Bahrain and Australia. He is the author and publisher of an investment newsletter, The Pain Report. He is well known for his contrarian views and is a regular guest on CNBC TV and speaks at conferences around the world. Mr Pain holds a joint honours degree in Economics and Politics from Keele University and a Masters degree in Finance from Exeter University. Having been born in South Africa and lived in Lesotho, Swaziland, England and Bahrain, he now calls Australia home.

  • Geoff Raby
    photo

    Geoff Raby AO

    Associate

    Geoff Raby was Australia’s ambassador to China from 2007 to 2011. Following completion of his ambassadorial term, after 27 years in the public service, mostly with DFAT, he resigned to establish Geoff Raby and Associates Ltd. Dr Raby also holds a number of non-executive, independent director positions with ASX-listed companies, including OceanaGold, Yancoal, and iSentia. He was appointed to the Investment Attraction South Australia Advisory Board on 29 March, 2016. In China, Dr Raby serves as Co-Chair of Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s China practice. He is head of Trade Policy at the London-based think-tank Policy Exchange. Dr Raby is a member of the not-for-profit Advance Global Advisory Board, University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre Advisory Board, La Trobe University Asia Advisory Board, and the Foundation of the National Gallery of Victoria. In 2019, Dr Raby was awarded an Officer in the General Division (AO) for his distinguished service to Australia-China relations through senior diplomatic roles, and to multilateral trade policy development.

     

  • Richard Rigby
    photo

    Richard Rigby

    Associate

    Richard Rigby is the Executive Director of the Australian National University (ANU) China Institute, Professorial Fellow at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, and the Associate Director of the Centre on China in the World (CIW). Professor Rigby graduated in History at the ANU in 1970 and went on to do his PhD – subsequently reworked and published by the ANU Press as The May 30th Movement – under Professor Wang Gungwu in the then Department of Far Eastern History (now the School of Culture, History & Language). Professor Rigby joined Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs in 1975, where he worked until the end of 2001. Postings included Tokyo, Beijing (twice), Shanghai (Consul-General 1994-1998), London, and Israel (Ambassador, 2000-2001). He then joined the Office of National Assessments as Assistant Director-General, responsible for North and South Asia, where he worked until taking up his current position with the ANU China Institute in April 2008.

  • Laurie Smith
    photo

    Laurie Smith

    Associate

    Laurie Smith is currently the Non-Executive Director of the Australia China Business Council. He served as the Executive Director of International at Austrade (2011-2015) and before that lived and worked in China in various government and private sector roles for close to 20 years. Mr Smith has extensive experience in trade, investment and related policy issues in Asia generally and greater China in particular and has worked across many industry sectors with particular experience in agriculture, food, technology, media, education and training. Mr Smith has a Bachelor of Science from Melbourne University, and undertook post-graduate study at Peking University. He is fluent in Mandarin.

  • Brendan Taylor
    photo

    Brendan Taylor

    Associate

    Dr. Brendan Taylor is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), Australian National University. He was Head of SDSC from 2011-2016. He is a specialist on great power strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific, East Asian ‘flashpoints’, and Asian security architecture. His writings on these subjects have appeared in such leading journals as Survival, The Washington Quarterly, Australian Foreign Affairs, The Pacific Review, International Affairs and Review of International Studies. He is the author or editor of 12 books, including The Four Flashpoints: How Asia Goes to War (Black Inc, 2018) and Dangerous Decade: Taiwan’s Security and Crisis Management (IISS, 2019) He is a regular op-ed contributor to such publications as The Australian, Nikkei Asian Review, The Australian Financial Review, The Interpreter, East Asia Forum and The Strategist.

  • John Varano
    photo

    John Varano

    Associate

    John Varano is a Senior Manager at nbn™ Australia. He has advised and supported senior executives at ASX companies and government departments and managed large scale transformation programmes. His professional experience in programme management and management consulting extend across defence, financial services, government, healthcare, not-for-profit, resources and telecommunications, and in multiple geographies, including Australia, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. Mr Varano is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders. He was educated at the University of Oxford, Johns Hopkins University, The University of Melbourne and Monash University.

Team

Interns