My China Story: Jocelyn Chey AM (Catch up Online)

The event was held on Tuesday 28 February 2023.

To celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit, the Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture (IAC) at Western Sydney University held the first episode in 2023 of our unique and distinctive conversation series My China Story, featuring an outstanding figure in the field of Australia-China relations and Chinese studies, Professor Jocelyn Chey AM.

Jocelyn grew up in England and emigrated to Australia with her family in 1952. In 1956 she enrolled at the University of Sydney and was among a cohort of twenty undergraduates who formed the first class in Chinese studies offered by the university after WWII. Five years later she was one of four who completed an honours degree majoring in Chinese. At the end of 1960 she won a scholarship to the University of Hong Kong, where she studied the reform philosophy of Huang Zunxian, a late Qing diplomat, bureaucrat, and political thinker, for her Master degree. She stayed in Hong Kong for another four years (1963 – 1966), working as Research Officer in the U.K. Regional Information Office. In 1969 Jocelyn received her PhD degree from the University of Sydney with a thesis entitled “The Search for a Native Ancestry for Modern Chinese Materialism” under the supervision of Professor A.R. Davis, and in the following year was appointed Lecturer. In November 1972 she joined a university-organised delegation and visited mainland China for the first time to study educational developments. On December 20th, she and the study group were in Beijing when they heard that the Whitlam Government had established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

In early 1973, Jocelyn joined the Department of Overseas Trade in Canberra as China Relations Officer. In 1975 she and her family moved to Beijing when she was appointed the first Cultural Counsellor in the Australian Embassy, to explore and establish cultural, education, art and economic exchanges between the two countries. After she returned to Canberra in 1978, she helped to establish the Australia-China Council and became its first Executive Director (1979-1984). She was then appointed Senior Trade Commissioner to China (1985-1988) and moved back to Beijing to work in the Australian Embassy. From 1988 to 1992 she was Director of the China Branch of the International Wool Secretariat, based in Hong Kong and travelling to mainland China frequently. In 1992, she was appointed Australian Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, completing her posting in 1995 and returning to Canberra.

After retiring from the public service, Jocelyn returned to Sydney and renewed her connections with the University of Sydney, where she is an honorary research associate (Visiting Professor).  She is also Adjunct Professor in the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney.  In 2017 she became the founding Director of the Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture (IAC), Western Sydney University, and is now Adjunct Professor in IAC.

Jocelyn’s academic studies and distinguished diplomatic postings have spanned more than half a century, beginning in the 1950s. Her lived experiences in so many, vastly different decades have endowed her with many amazing stories and historical encounters. Among her research areas, spanning Chinese history and philosophy, Australia-Asia cultural and trade relations, Hong Kong history, and international relations, she has also developed a new research interest in Chinese humour, or in her words, “humour with Chinese characteristics”. She has contributed to and co-edited two books on this subject, Humour in Chinese Life and Letters and Humour in Chinese Life and Culture.

My China Story: Jocelyn Chey AM was opened by Emeritus Professor Peter Hutchings.

This onsite event also included a celebration of the Year of the Rabbit with a music performance and a riddle competition (with framed papercuts of zodiac animals designed and signed by artist Tianli Zu as prizes), followed by light refreshments and drinks.

Music Performance


Jocelyn Chey is Visiting Professor in the School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney, and Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Chinese Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University and the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney.

Jocelyn grew up in England during the Second World War.  Her family emigrated to Australia in 1952 and she completed her schooling at North Sydney Girls High School before going to the University of Sydney where she majored in Chinese Studies and Anthropology.  She went to Hong Kong on a British Commonwealth Scholarship and completed her Master degree at the University of Hong Kong in 1963.  While in Hong Kong she met and married Moon Lin Chey. Later they moved to Sydney and she returned to the University of Sydney where she undertook study for a Doctor degree and became a Lecturer.  The Cheys had two sons.

In 1973 Jocelyn was appointed China Relations Officer in the Department of Overseas Trade, before being posted to Beijing as the first Australian Cultural Counsellor in 1975. She was the first Executive Director of the Australia-China Council 1979-1984 and Senior Trade Commissioner in Beijing 1985-88.  From 1988 to 1992 she was the Director of the China Branch of the International Wool Secretariat. Her last posting was as Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau 1992-95. After retiring from the Commonwealth Public Service, the Cheys settled in Sydney.  Moon Lin passed away in 2001.

Jocelyn is a Councillor of the Australian Institute for International Affairs New South Wales. She was awarded the Australia-China Council Medal for contributions to the development of relations between Australia and China in 2008.  In 2009 she was honoured with the Medal of Australia, and also made a Fellow of the Institute of International Affairs.

Jocelyn was the Founding Director of the Institute for Chinese Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University 2015-17.  Her current research fields include cultural diplomacy with relevance to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and the cultural aspects of Chinese humour.  She has co-authored and co-edited two books on the latter subject and published widely on cultural diplomacy and Chinese international relations.

 Emeritus Professor Peter Hutchings was the Dean of the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University from 2011 to 2021, and the Pro Vice Chancellor of the Humanities and Social Sciences from 2020 to 2021. His career included positions at The University of Sydney (1988–91), Boston University in Sydney (1992), the University of Hong Kong (1992–95), and the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (2008–2010). His research interests are in the arts, cinema, critical legal studies, cultural studies, literature, and philosophy, as well as the history of Chinese migration and cultural exchange in Australia. His publications have appeared in Australian and international refereed journals and in the mainstream print media. Currently, he is researching issues of sovereignty and cinema in the post-9/11 period.
George Dai George Dai (戴嘉骏)is 8 years old. He started to learn the violin in 2019 under the tutelage of Yinlin Pan, a famous violinist in China. When COVID struck, George was unable to have face to face lessons due to enforced lockdown rules. George is passionate about playing the violin and written his own compositions including the Lockdown Impromptu, which came "Highly Recommended" in the Sydney Catholic School Arts Festival. He is now studying with Dr Evgeny Sorkin.
Angelena Ng Angelena Ng  (黄湘祺) just turned 7 in February. She attends St Bernadette's Catholic Primary in Dundas Valley and started learning the guzheng (21-stringed zither) in 2022 at the Guyun Guzheng Arts Academy with artistic director Julia Luo (Sydney Conservatorium). Angelena studies the piano and bassoon with her mother, Jennifer Yeh (MLC School) also enjoys ballet and singing in the Australian Girls Choir. This event marks her second public performance on guzheng
Hazel Chow (800 x 900px) 

Hazel Chow Wing Sum (邹穎心) is 15 years old. She began playing the yangqin (hammered dulcimer) at the age of 9 due to its beautiful and relaxing sounds. Hazel is member of the “Australian  Chinese Young Cultural Ambassadors” and has performed at various festivals and events, including IAC annual events. She recently appeared at the Star Event Centre for the Year of the Rabbit spectacular gala concert with her teacher Angela Feng. She hopes to perform in Beijing in the near future.

Terence Luk (800 x 900px) Terrence Luk (陆瀚林) is 14 years of age. He started playing the erhu (2-stringed fiddle) at the age of 7. He enjoys playing the erhu because it is a unique instrument. He is the member of  the “Australian-Chinese Young Cultural Ambassadors” and has performed at various festivals and events, including IAC annual events, the Australian Institute of International Affairs End-of-Year Foundation - Jasmine Flowers in the Springtime, and amongst other appearances. A student of Liu Ying, Terrence was the recipient of the Gold Award of the Global Overseas Chinese Youth Instrumental Music Competition in 2022.

12 animal papercuts by artist Tianli Zu

These artworks are also available for collection at a special price of $22 per item. Here is the link:

Coupon code: cny23