China’s rapid economic growth and investment in research capability along with the changing dynamics of its relationship with Australia have created an opportunity for a radically refreshed research relationship with ACIAR for mutual benefit.
China’s third white paper on foreign aid, released in January 2021, introduced a new focus on trilateral aid cooperation. Given that our program of bilateral research collaboration with China came to an end in 2020, the white paper creates an opportunity to explore new modes of collaboration off the platform of strong and longstanding research partnerships.
ACIAR research collaboration with China commenced in 1984 and for more than 10 years it was the largest ACIAR country program, reflecting the huge challenges that existed in addressing rural poverty that affects hundreds of millions of people. Outcomes of research in forestry, cropping systems and livestock have had lasting impacts on researchers, farmers and systems. The dramatic transformation of the Chinese economy resulted in a reorientation of the ACIAR program in the mid-2000s to focus on geographies and themes where collaboration with Australian researchers would have the greatest impacts.
ACIAR-supported projects in Tibet and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regions ended in 2020. For the first time since 1984, we have no bilateral activities in China. This provided an opportunity for us to reassess our relationship with China. The Commission of the International Agricultural Research strongly endorsed the position for ACIAR to refresh its relationship with China, building on the foundation of decades of trusted research relationships. During 2020–21, we will therefore engage with senior leaders in the Chinese research system to discuss what form that collaboration might take, noting that whether it be bilateral, trilateral or both, it will need to be based on principles of substantial co-investment (either in the form of parallel investments and/or trilateral collaboration) and mutual benefits for both countries.
Our key partners in China currently include the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, China Agricultural University, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou University and Gansu Agricultural University.
2021–22 research program
- 2 ACIAR-supported projects in China
- Both projects are part of regional projects
The research program addresses our high-level objectives, as outlined in the 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027, as well as specific issues and opportunities identified by ACIAR and our partner organisations. The following sections briefly describe individual ACIAR-supported projects and anticipated outputs in China. The projects are grouped according to research program.
Success in rural transformation is measured not only by income growth in the rural population, but also by the degree of inclusiveness in the society. A project in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan, led by Dr Chunlai Chen of the Australian National University, endeavours to understand the nature and drivers of rural transformation in order to provide better policy advice to underpin the success of transformation. With a focus on grain-based agriculture, during 2021–22 the project will select study regions and collect data to understand the components of success and the different impacts of rural transformation on women and men.
Project: Understanding the drivers of successful and inclusive rural regional transformation: sharing experiences and policy advice in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Pakistan (ADP/2017/024)
Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, is a destructive bacterial disease of citrus. It is spread mainly by the Asian citrus psyllid and infected propagation material. All commercially cultivated citrus varieties are susceptible to the disease and currently there is no cure. Effective management is considered the largest challenge ever faced by citrus industries worldwide. A new project led by Dr Jianhua Mo of the NSW Department of Primary Industries will leverage international expertise to tackle the deficiencies in current huanglongbing management practices. A trilateral project with partners from Australia, Indonesia and China will be conducted to enhance the sustainable management of huanglongbing and the Asian citrus psyllid in Indonesia and China, and increase the preparedness of the Australian citrus industry for an incursion of both the disease and the vector.
Project: Preparedness and management of huanglongbing (citrus greening disease) to safeguard the future of citrus industry in Australia, China and Indonesia (HORT/2019/164).