The Australia-China Council today welcomed the announcement of the BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies to be hosted at Peking University in Beijing.
The announcement was made by the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard at a joint signing of Memoranda of Understanding between the Australia-China Council (ACC) and BHP Billiton (BHP), and the ACC and Peking University.
The BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies is expected to raise awareness and understanding of Australia in China.
BHP Billiton will fund the position for three to five years. In recognition of this support, the Chair will be named the BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies.
Dr Geoff Raby, the Australian Ambassador to China said, "The Chair of Australian Studies at Peking University is a wonderful opportunity for Chinese students and academics to engage and learn about Australia from the best Australian academia has to offer, not just through the Chair, but the network of Australian academics the Chair will bring to China.
"It is these people to people links that will strengthen and deepen the Australia-China bilateral relationship over time," Dr Raby said.
"The ACC is very proud to have played a coordinating role in establishing the BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies in China. We look forward to providing support to the Chinese academics working at Australian Studies Centres in China that have been so committed to the study and understanding of Australia in China for over two decades," the Chair of the ACC, Emeritus Professor Mark Wainwright AM said.
"We are very grateful to BHP Billiton and our hosts at Peking University for making this happen."
The position has support from the Australian tertiary education sector and a consortium of Australian Universities committed to growing the Australian Studies in China program.
"Without the support of the tertiary education sector in Australia, the position would not be viable," Professor Wainwright said.
The Australian Studies in China program has been operating for over two decades. Australian Studies Centres are located at leading universities across China in Beijing, Shanghai, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Sichuan, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangsu and Liaoning.