2023 China Australia Journalist Exchange

Five senior Australian journalists visit China on first post-COVID exchange

APJC’s China journalist exchange is back on track, with five senior Australian journalists travelling to China in October 2023 for talks with government, business, media and academic leaders.

The exchange had been put on hold because of COVID, with the previous program held in 2019. The first exchange took place in 2013.

While it missed the 10-year anniversary, the 2023 program coincided with the 50-year anniversary of the historic visit to China by former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, which opened up Australia’s relationship with China.

The exchange is an initiative of APJC and China’s peak journalism body, the All-China Journalists Association. Its aim is to boost newsroom capacity to report the other country and increase public understanding of the two countries and their relationship. More than 50 journalists from China and Australia have taken part.

The 2023 program continued the focus on bilateral economic and political issues, and also looked at governance and policy-making in China today, with visits to influential think tank the Chongyang Institute and the HQ of the CPC’s nation-wide professional development system.

Feedback from participants confirms that these meetings were the standout area of interest, according to APJC director John Wallace. “There is growing interest in the topic of how China decides,” he said. “We’re keen to do more work in the governance and policy-making area.”

The program also gave fellows the opportunity to have a lunch meeting with the Australian ambassador and to see China “at large” on a more personal level, with travel by fast train from Beijing to Chongqing, then on to Shanghai, making contact with business, media and others on the way.

2023 participants

Mark Baker, publisher Inside Story, former senior editor Fairfax group (representing APJC)
Helen Davidson, north Asia correspondent, Guardian Australia 
Bernard Keane, politics editor, Crikey
Karen Middleton, chief political correspondent, The Saturday Paper
Michael Pascoe, contributing editor, The New Daily


“Good across three areas — politically, economically and in relation to the media. I’d urge other Australian journalists to join future tours regardless of their views on China.”

“The trip was incredibly beneficial. It has definitely improved my knowledge, understanding, and reporting.”

“It gave me a better understanding of how systems and power work there.”

“Discussions with experts at the CPC HQ and the Chongyang think tank were wide-ranging and candid. I thank the organisers for getting us such great access.”

“Learning that Chinese mainstream media suffer the same economic problems as we do here, and what they’re trying to do about it, was excellent.”

“Discovering Chongqing was great – 30 million people and I knew nothing about it.”

“Just getting out into a city to experience it is really valuable – seeing how people live, what they do in the day-to-day etc, brings all the factual information and political dialogue to life.”

“It was an incredibly valuable and informative experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity to go.”

“The accommodation and food were marvellous, and our hosts were very helpful and great company.”