In conversation with Cheng Lei and Nick Coyle | LIVESTREAM

July 03 2024

During People’s Republic of China (PRC) Premier Li Qiang’s recent visit to Australia, business-to-business and people-to-people ties were the focus.

A statement on joint outcomes of the Australia-China Annual Leaders’ Meeting emphasised the role these links played in deepening the bilateral relationship and a commitment was made to continue to expand them. In his welcome address at an official luncheon for Premier Li at Parliament House, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese particularly singled out the role of Chinese-Australian communities as ‘a powerhouse of innovation, creativity and drive’.

Yet the experience of recent years has shown that stable political ties cannot be taken for granted, and that when these sour it can have devastating consequences for individuals, families and companies.

The divide is also playing out with pressures on Chinese communities in Australia.

Sky News Australia journalist Cheng Lei experienced this first-hand, spending more than three years imprisoned by PRC authorities. She was freed in October last year and continues to navigate the aftermath. At the same time as seeking her release, Ms Cheng’s partner, Nick Coyle, was CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and witnessed first-hand the impact of disruptive trade measures the PRC had imposed targeting Australian goods.

With the geopolitical divide between the PRC and the West growing, what are the implications for people-to-people ties and business exchanges? How can the broader Australian community best support the unique contribution that Chinese diaspora communities play in helping to build bridges between the two nations? In an Australian public debate around the PRC often broadcast in black and white, is there any scope for shades of grey?

The Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI) welcomed Cheng Lei and Nick Coyle to discuss these questions and more in conversation with Glenda Korporaal, UTS:ACRI Adjunct Industry Fellow and columnist for The Australian. The discussion was followed by audience Q&A.

Time: 6.00pm - 7.15pm AEST


transcript of the event is available.


About the speakers

Ms Cheng Lei

Cheng Lei is a Chinese Australian journalist who worked in China and Singapore for 18 years, 9 years as China correspondent for CNBC, and 9 years as presenter of business shows for CGTN. Prior to that she worked in finance roles in Australia and eastern China for five years. She was detained by China's ministry of state security on espionage charges for three years and two months. Since her release in October, 2023, she has rebuilt her life and now works as presenter for Sky News Australia.

Mr Nick Coyle

Nick Coyle is the former longstanding CEO and Executive Director of the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce in Beijing (AustCham China from 2013-2021) and spent 14 years living in China. He is also well known for leading the advocacy campaign for his partner Cheng Lei, who was detained in China in August 2020 and released in October 2023. These days, Mr Coyle is back where he grew up, in Papua New Guinea, leading two businesses in health and renewable energy.


About the moderator

Ms Glenda Korporaal OAM

Glenda Korporaal is an Adjunct Industry Fellow at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI).

Ms Korporaal is a Sydney based journalist with The Australian newspaper specialising in business, financial affairs and international relations. She is a former London, Washington and New York correspondent of The Australian Financial Review (AFR) and was the first woman deputy editor of the AFR (1986-1988)

She has been business editor of The Bulletin magazine, editor of The Australian’s monthly business magazine, The Deal, and associate editor (business) of The Australian.

She has a strong interest in Asia, particularly China, since her first visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC) on a 'farm study tour' in 1978. She was the China correspondent for The Australian in 2018 and 2019. She has lived and worked in Hong Kong (2001-2003) and Singapore (1998-1999).

She was awarded an OAM for her contribution to print journalism in the Australia Day honours of January 2019.

Event Gallery


Event Information
July 03 2024
6:00 PM