2018 Program Wrap

A word from Jette Radley, Associate Director, Programs

2018 program wrap

SYDNEY 30 November 2018

2018 has been another blockbuster year for programming at Asia Society. With almost 40 events, hundreds of attendees and strong participation from those at the highest levels of office across government, academia, business and the arts, we have once again delivered world class events for our members and the community.

We started the year strong with a string of visits from the Asia Society global family, including members of our Houston Centre Board, Vice President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, Wendy Cutler and Asia Society Global Co-Chair, Ambassador Chan Heng Chee.

Ambassador Chan’s visit kicked off our ASEAN focused programming which has continued as a theme thought 2018. Her visit coincided with a stellar ASEAN 360° program, hosted by King and Wood Mallesons, the release of the first 5 ASEAN Disruptive Asia essays, which were profiled by the AFR and ANZ Blue Notes, and the ASEAN – Australia Special Summit which saw ASEAN leaders descend on Sydney for 3 days of talks and events.

During the Summit, Asia Society was privileged to participate in many of the official activities, including the CEO Summit and to host our own private dinner with Singaporean Foreign Minister, H.E. Vivian Balakrishnan, in partnership with Optus Singtel. We captured the Summit as it unfolded, delivering a series of Asia Briefing updates over the Summit week.

Just prior to the Summit we launched the Macquarie University Asia Society Australia Scholarship Program that will allow up to 20 Macquarie University Students per year, to travel to Asia for long term exchange, I’m pleased to report that the first cohort are almost due to return home after living and studying in various cities in China, Thailand and South Korea. 

2018 has been dominated by media coverage and opinion on the effect of China’s growing influence in Australia and on the world stage. We’ve taken this as a theme for much of our programming across the year. In March, we partnered with the University of Western Sydney and The Whitlam Institute to look at how this was affecting the Chinese Australian Community. With McKinsey Global Institute Director, Jonathon Woetzel, we looked at how our digital world, and global value chains are increasingly shaped by Chinese disruptors like Alibaba and Tencent.

We stepped back and took the historical view at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with a Guqin and Koto performance that explored how blended musical traditions in Japan and China are emblematic of greater cultural flows. Perhaps this influence and confluence has been happening for longer than the Australian media makes out.

In May, with The University of Sydney and the Australian Human Rights Commission we released the second edition of the Leading for Change report highlighting the lack of cultural diversity represented within the senior leadership positions in Australian business, politics, government and universities. The report is a challenge for us to do better in making the most of the talents in our multicultural nation.

We’ve been pleased to host a series of in-depth Executive Briefings this year. Our Ambassador to ASEAN, Jane Duke spoke to members about the outcomes of the ASEAN-Special Summit at Norton Rose Fulbright, Ambassador to Korea, James Choi gave an update on developments on the Korean Peninsula at CHAMP Ventures, Nikko Asset Management Global CEO and President Takumi Shibata delivered two superb briefings on his view of the global economy and the challenges of heading up an organisation with over 200 Billion USD under management in Sydney and Melbourne. In August, at KPMG in Sydney, US Charge de affairs, James Carouso updated members on the US Indo-Pacific Strategy and how ‘Trump’s administration’s strategy for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific has US business engagement at the center of it’.

To coincide with the launch of the India Economic Strategy, we hosted strategy author, Peter Varghese, our High Commissioner to India, Harinder Sidhu and Senior Trade Commissioner, Leonie Muldoon for a series of Executive Briefings at Corrs Chamber Westgarth in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Our GEN A program has continued with a Masterclass on global trade architecture by our own Wendy Cutler and we launched a new masterclasses series ‘House of’ that dives into the personalities that shape our region, starting with Xi Jinping, delivered by Dr. Bates Gill (at Macquarie University) and Kim Jung-Un and Moon Jae-in by L. Gordon Flake (at Nikko Asset Management). 

We continue to bring the best of our global programming to Australia and this year, delivered the second instalment of a three-year, multi-city partnership, Imagine 2060 with global infrastructure firm AECOM. The event focused on the linkages in renewable energy investment, technology and policy between Australia and Asia.

Asia Society is a natural stop for leaders from Asia and leading thinkers on Asia when visiting Australia. As part of our Leaders on Asia series we hosted; former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at EY for a major address on how Australia should navigate the growing US-China tension, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Suresh Prabhu, with UNSW on the Australia India Relationship and our own Asia Society Victoria Distinguished Fellow, Thomas Trikasih Lembong on the conclusion of IACEPA negotiations.

We wrapped up the year on a high note, with the inaugural Asia Briefing LIVE held on 1 November at Bloomberg. An extension of our monthly Asia Briefing Newsletter, Asia Briefing LIVE is a non-partisan executive forum taking the pulse of Asia and Australia's engagement with the region.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered his first major address on foreign policy, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen joined a panel of senior economists in forecasting what’s ahead for the region and international guest speakers, US-based China expert, Professor Minxin Pei, and Indian Chairman of Business Standards Ltd, TN Ninan gave their global perspectives on the challenges ahead.The day featured 4 major panels – Asia’s geopolitics, economics, business engagement, and Australia’s place in the region – with the rising threat of a US-China trade war at the centre of all discussion.

With the launch of our second Disruptive Asia publication this morning, we round out a successful year of programming and thank all the members, that sponsor, host, attend, speak at and engage with our work. We convene these events for you and with you and always look forward to hearing your feedback and ideas.


Jette Radley Associate Director, Programs, Asia Society Australia


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