"The rise of China has been so sudden that in many respects we are now playing catch up," says Dr James Laurenceson, the newly-appointed Deputy Director of UTS's Australia China Relations Institute (ACRI). "ACRI can help speed up that process."
Dr Laurenceson, a China economy specialist, joined UTS this week from the University of Queensland, where he was Senior Lecturer in Economics.
He has previously held appointments at Shandong University, China and is the immediate past president of the Chinese Economics Society of Australia (CESA).
"This is a marvellous opportunity to play a leading role in framing the research agenda of Australia’s only independent think-tank devoted to the bilateral relationship," Dr Laurenceson said.
"While it is our $150 billion trade relationship that grabs the most attention, in other areas the links are only just beginning, such as with respect to investment. That means the most exciting times for the Australia-China relationship lie ahead."
Launched on 16 May, The Australia-China Relations Institute is headed by former Australian Foreign Minister and former Premier of NSW, Professor Bob Carr.
"ACRI can contribute to lifting the quality of comment and our level of understanding surrounding the bilateral relationship," Dr Laurenceson said.
"There is no question that we want ACRI to develop into the 'go to' source for comment and analysis on the relationship. We'll achieve this if we concentrate our research efforts on the issues that are going to be at the forefront over the next decade or two.
"For example, what are the opportunities and challenges created by the 500 million plus Chinese set to join the middle class by 2021? This momentous historical development will have implications for Australia across the board, from mining, to agriculture, to services," he said.
Dr Laurenceson's research has focused on the Chinese economy, including the Australia-China bilateral economic relationship, and has been published in leading journals such as China Economic Review and China Economic Journal. Outside of academia he is a regular commentator on China in the media.
ACRI has set out to define the contemporary relationship between Australia and China, exploring how the two nations engage socially, culturally, economically and diplomatically.