The Significance of China as Method in Australia-China Relations in Today’s Globalised Multicultural Society

Ms Chunyan Zhang1

1Rmit University, Australia

China and Australia have close relations in terms of their economic ties and education exchanges. However, in recent years ‘China threat’ has been depicted negatively through Australian media reports, which further affects the image of Australian Chinese people and the promotion of Mandarin Chinese language in general public schools. Against this backdrop, the concept of China as Method has been developed through teaching LOTE Mandarin Chinese language in Australian primary schools. In this context, China as Method refers to the recognition of inter-reference between Chinese and other diverse world cultures in the process of knowledge flow between teachers and students. Namely, teaching Chinese language and culture becomes a method that allows different cultures to be seen, heard and discussed in classrooms. The significance of it is to eliminate the negative portrait of China in an Australian context. It unsettles the imbalanced knowledge flow between peripheral (Eastern or Asian) and metropole (Euro-American or Australian) societies and between China and other Asian cultures in today’s globalised world; and helps our young learners see cultural others, not only differentiating cultural stereotypes, but understanding and respecting cultural differences and minimising or eliminating racism in Australia.


Chunyan Zhang is a part time PhD candidate from RMIT University Melbourne. Her research project examines the cultural aspects of a Mandarin language program in a suburban, multi-lingual, multi-cultural primary school in Melbourne. Within this school she works full time teaching Chinese language and culture to students from Foundation level to Year six. Before moving to Australia in 2008, she worked extensively in different roles in public and private educational institutes in China. As a postgraduate student researcher, she is in the process of researching further and publishing articles in regard to these topics: identity, knowledge flow, individualism, globalisation, auto-ethnography, curriculum development, teaching Language Other Than English (LOTE), teacher training, China as Method, teaching and learning. Her co-authored a book chapter The Emotional Costs of a Globalising Leaner Identity: Challenges and Opportunities for 21st Century Pedagogy in the Asian Century.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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