Dr Hongbo Ji is an Asia Foundation Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, January 2020 - January 2021. With years of experience in international development from disaster management to women's empowerment, her current research interest is in China's constructive global engagement. Dr Ji shares with us what attracted her to the ANU, her role at the Asia Foundation, and what she likes about Canberra.
Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in China’s northeastern province of Jilin and studied English language and literature, international relations, and administrative law for my undergraduate, MA and Ph.D degrees. I have worked in international relations and international development for over 20 years, with the last 13 years working at the Asia Foundation’s office in Beijing. In my current role as the Foundation’s Country Representative in China, I oversee our operations and programming focused on women’s empowerment and gender equality and the role of China in Asia and the Pacific.
What attracted you to ANU?
The Asia Foundation has cooperation with ANU in many areas, including a joint fellowship program that places development professionals from Foundation’s offices across Asia at ANU for a year of research, lectures and writing.
I am fortunate to have this opportunity to come to ANU and I am particularly attracted to ANU by its vast pool of expertise on China and China’s role in the world, as well as its reputation as one of the leading institutions on development studies.
How do you find Canberra?
With its parks, the lake, fresh air (we came at the end of January and luckily missed the heavy bush fire and smog days) and easy traffic, Canberra offers such a refreshing respite from a mega city like Beijing where we have lived for the past decade and more. We are also exploring the city’s diversity through visits to galleries and museums and going to the many festivals on the weekends.
What inspired you to pursue international development studies?
I have been doing international development work for the past 20 years because the people I work with constantly inspire me. They are not only top minds in their fields but also deeply committed to bringing about positive change to the world, especially to those who are disadvantaged.
What's the piece of work you are most proud of?
With a highly motivated and professionally savvy team in the Beijing office, we are a leading international development NGO working in and with China to promote gender equality and constructive Chinese role in the world. We have conducted innovative research on the cost of the impact of domestic violence on the work place and are helping employers in China with work place interventions that could mitigate these costs.
We have facilitated dialogues among development professionals and policy makers from China and other countries to improve mutual understanding and explore areas of collaboration (See a panel discussion on China’s international development cooperation and Belt and Road Initiative at 2019 Australasia Aid Conference).
We are proud to be the bridge, the facilitator, the supporter and advocate, and the experimenter of innovative development ideas and practices.
What do you plan to achieve during your time at CIW?
I greatly value the opportunity of spending the year at CIW. During this year, I hope to make friends and develop fresh ideas—CIW has a wonderful inter-disciplinary pool of experts with great insights to domestic and international issues facing China today. I hope to learn from them and pick their brains on how best to further sharpen our focus for our programs in China and elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific.
I also hope to share my years of experience working on the ground in China with the ANU community and contribute to research and thinking on China and international development cooperation in any way that I can.
I am particularly interested in Chinese international development cooperation architecture and practices, as well as the environment and social impact of Chinese overseas investment, especially as relates to Chinese aid to and investment in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
Dr Hongbo Ji will be delivering a seminar at the ANU China Seminar Series in May 2020; more details to come on CIW Events page.