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Canada-China University Linkages in a New Era of Global Geo-Politics

We were stimulated by celebrations around the 40th Anniversary of Canada-China Relations in 2010 to design a project that would look specifically at large scale national level efforts at collaboration between Canadian and Chinese universities from 1983 to 2001. After the devastation of the Cultural Revolution, Canada was the only Western country that concentrated its development aid on higher education in China, and the projects it supported were quite different from those of the World Bank, which focused on infrastructural development. CIDA projects supported a large number of university linkages in the areas of education, agriculture, environment, health and management studies, with a particular emphasis on collaboration in the development of faculty and of new courses.
Our project intends to reflect on the historical contribution made by the universities and other social institutions on both sides that were involved in these linkages. What kind of long-term impact can be traced, and what lessons have been learned? How did the projects specifically address areas of knowledge that were crucial to China’s rapid transition towards the position of economic and geo-political leadership it holds today in the world community? What new synergies are now emerging between universities in the two countries that might be built upon in new forms of collaboration?
To answer these questions we are connecting with participants in past projects in many parts of Canada and China. Our project team includes Ruth Hayhoe (OISE/LHAE), Julia Pan (OISE/LHAE), Qiang Zha (York), Phirom Leng (OISE/LHAE), and Qin Liu (OISE/LHAE).


Principal Investigator

Dr. Ruth Hayhoe  (OISE/LHAE)


Dr. Julia Pan (OISE/LHAE)

Dr. Qiang Zha (York University)

Research Team

Phirom Leng    Ph.D. candidate (OISE/LHAE)

Qin Liu            Ph. D. candidate (OISE/LHAE)

Background Publications

Project Publications

Ruth Hayhoe, Julia Pan, & Qiang Zha. (2013). Lessons from the legacy of Canada-China university linkages.

许美德(Ruth Hayhoe), 潘乃容,查强. (2012 in Chinese). 关于中加大学合作的历史性反思 (Historical reflections on Canada-China university linkages).

Phirom Leng & Julia Pan. (2013). The issue of mutuality in Canada-China educational collaboration.

Phirom Leng. (2014). University linkages and international development assistance: Lessons from Canada-China experience.

Related Literature

Huhua Cao & Vivienne Poy. (Eds.) (2011). The China challenge: Sino-Canadian relations in the 21st century.

B. (Bernie) Michael Frolic. (2011). Canada-China at 40 - with a response from Ruth Hayhoe.

Edward T. Jackson (2003). How university projects produce development results.

Niels Klabunde (2009). Translating the Olympic Spirit into a Canadian-Chinese year of education and sciences.

Maire O'Brien. (2000). The implementation of CIDA's China program: Resolving the disjuncture between structure and process (Doctoral thesis). York University.

Julia Pan. (1996). The role of Canadian universities in international development: A case study of the Canada-China university linkage program (Doctoral thesis). University of Toronto.

Pitman B. Potter & Thomas Adams. (Eds.) (2011). Issues in Canada-China relations.

Jennifer Wilson (2001). A history of CIDA's China program.

Qiang Zha. (2011). Canadian and Chinese collaboration on education: From unilateral to bilateral exchanges.



Transforming Canada-China Educational Cooperation: Significant Legacies and Future Challenges

Canada-China Conference in May 2014, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Research Trip to Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa in September 2012

The project team made a research trip to Quebec City, Montréal and Ottawa in late September 2012.  The itinerary included visiting the Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval, the Department of Geography and the Law School of Université de Montréal, as well as the offices of CIDA and the AUCC in Ottawa. The trip concluded with an evening lecture at the National Archives in Ottawa, under the auspices of the Canada-China Friendship Society.  (Read the whole report here)

Seminar at the Institute of Asian Research, UBC, May  2012

"Past and Future in Canadian University Linkages with China: Best Practices and Next-Generation Challenges"

In this interview, based on a lecture at The University of British Columbia in May 2012, Dr. Hayhoe reflects on the arc of previous Canada-China  education projects, Canada's legacy, and mutual learning and lessons for each state partner.

Interview with Dr. Ruth Hayhoe:


Click to Watch Part I   Part II

SSHRC Sponsored Conference in Regina: October 2011

Canada-China Relations: Past, Present, Future

University of Regina, under the auspice of Social Science and Humanity Research Council of Canada, hosted a Symposium on Canada-China Relations: Past, Present and Future in October 2011.  The symposium was part of celebration of the 40th anniversary of Canada-China Diplomatic Relations established in 1971.

The aim of this academic symposium was to create a conversation between established and newer scholars on various aspects of Canada-China relations, updating the developments and outcomes of the bilateral joint activities in the last two decades.  The 40+ participants were mostly scholars from various Canadian universities who were involved in Canada-China joint research and exchange works, plus representatives from Canadian government departments such as DEFAIT and Library and Archives Canada.

Professor Paul Evans, the Director of the Institute for Asian Research, University of British Columbia delivered the keynote speech “Beyond Engagement: Canada and China 2020”, and another special dinner guest speaker was Mr. Norman Webster, the former Editor-in-chief and former Peking Bureau Chief, the Global and Mail, who had witnessed and recorded the Canada-China diplomatic relations in the last 40 years.

Qiang Zha and Julia Pan made a joint presentation on “Canada-China University Linkages in a New Era of Global Geo-Politics” in the opening session, and a paper entitled “A Historical Reflection on Canada-China University Linkage, co-authored by Ruth Hayhoe, Julia Pan and Qiang Zha is to be published in the symposium proceeding book in 2012. Its main points are found in a book chapter we have contributed to a new publication put out by the Chinese Ministry of Educaiton. See the second project publication above.



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