The BHP Billiton chair of Australian studies at Peking University in Beijing, Professor David Walker, visited Melbourne as part of the AU$ 5 million partnership aimed at raising the profile and understanding of Australia in China.
The multinational mining company, headquartered in Melbourne, has pledged AU$ 1.1 million/year, over five years, to the Foundation of Australian Studies in China in order to support Professor Walker’s position and to fund scholarships for Australians to study in China.
The programme is run in partnership with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs’ Australia-China Council, the Foundation of Australian Studies in China, Peking University, Universities Australia and the Commonwealth Department of Education.
Professor Walker said he was keen to encourage Australian students to look to Asia as their future. “The creation of the BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies at Peking University is a very important educational initiative,” he said.
“The chair sends the clearest possible signal to the already large and growing Australian Studies community in China that we are serious about wanting Chinese people to know Australia better across a wide spectrum of research fields and interests,” Walker continued.
“There are no better or more enduring ways of doing this than through strong educational links that permit sustained intellectual, cultural and social engagement. The scholarship programme will bring the best and brightest of our two societies together,” he said.
BHP Billiton CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, said the company was pleased to support the partnership, which aims to enhance research and education opportunities between Australia and China.
“As BHP Billiton’s business with China continues to grow, we are pleased to develop closer relations across a range of areas, including education.”
‘We hope the partnership fosters a deeper relationship between Australia and China, strengthening mutual understanding of social, political and economic issues,” Mackenzie said.
Adapted from press release by Sam Dodson
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