On June 20, 2024, in the wake of the Australia visit by Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Brisbane, Dr. Ruan Zongze, presented a lecture titled “How to Understand China” as part of the Perspectives: Asia Lecture series at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in cooperation with Griffith Asia Institute (GAI).  

Following introductory remarks by QAGOMA’s director Chris Saines and GAI director Prof. Christoph Nedopil, Dr. Ruan shared his views on China’s historical evolution as a global power. He underscored the impact of World War II on China’s recovery and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Emphasising the significance of key declarations such as the Cairo Declaration (1943) and Potsdam Proclamation (1945), which advocated for territories like Taiwan to be returned to China, he stressed the One-China Principle safeguarded by UN Resolution 2758 (1971) as pivotal to China’s territorial integrity and opposition to Taiwanese independence. 

Dr Ruan emphasised China’s substantial role as a primary trading partner with over 140 nations, and reaffirmed China’s stated commitment to peaceful development guided by the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: mutual respect for sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. 

Discussing China’s modernisation, he highlighted the challenges of balancing China’s vast population with the policy goals to create common prosperity, material and cultural advancement, harmony with nature, and sustainable growth initiatives including renewable energy development.  

In response to misconceptions regarding China’s progress, Dr Ruan refuted claims of a “China threat” narrative and criticised US protectionist actions against Chinese firms for disrupting global trade stability. He advocated for collaborative approaches akin to those employed during the 2008 financial crisis. 

In regard to enhancing relationships Australia-China, Dr Ruan shared his ABCD framework: Adjacency, Benefits, Complementarity, Dialogue—emphasising geographic proximity advantages alongside complementary economies and effective communication channels while noting that China has been Australia’s leading trading partner for 15 consecutive years. 

Looking ahead, Dr. Ruan shared an optimistic view through strengthened ties across sectors such as green development, digital economy advancements science & technology innovation health improvements; Dr Ruan presented Queensland’s significant role due to its appeal to Chinese tourists & students along with contributions to Chinese markets like Bundaberg ginger beer. 

During the interactive Q&A session with the over 100 people strong audience,  Dr Ruan answered questions about access of Australian journalists to China, artificial intelligence (AI) policy, China’s stance on the Ukraine conflict, and the role of Chinese diaspora in telling the China story. Dr Ruan reiterated his views on China’s commitment to peaceful growth & international collaboration, asserting that China’s rise presents opportunities rather than threats envisioning a future marked by peace and development through mutual respect & engagement between Australia and China. 

About Perspectives: Asia: Perspectives: Asia Griffith Asia Institute (GAI) and QAGOMA have nurtured constructive dialogue through their “Perspectives Asia” series. This event marked the third instalment in the “Perspectives Asia” series for this year nd had opening remarks from Chris Saines, Director of QAGOMA, and Christoph Nedopil Wang, Director of GAI, setting the stage for Dr Ruan’s discourse on evolving Australia-China relations notably amidst ongoing efforts aimed at consolidating bilateral ties during the Chinese Premier’s visit. This demonstrates the enthusiasm towards fostering impactful international conversations within this series.  

Since assuming his role in June 2022, Dr Ruan has been crucial in improving diplomatic and economic relations between China and Australia.