AsPr Graeme Smith


Research activity per year

Personal profile


My main research interests are Chinese state and non-state actors in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, the political economy of local government in rural China, and the geopolitics of search engines. I have active projects in China (Beijing, Fujian and Yunnan), Papua New Guinea (PNG), New Caledonia, Tonga, Samoa, East Timor, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. I also host the Little Red Podcast with former BBC and NPR China correspondent Louisa Lim of Melbourne University, which won the 2018 Australian Podcast Award in the News and Current Affairs category (

Career highlights

Appointment to the board of New Mandala (2019). Appointment as a Fellow in the Department of Pacific Affairs (2017). Appointment as senior lecturer and the University of Melbourne (2016) where I created the Little Red Podcast with Louisa Lim; appointment as a research fellow at the University of Sydney (2012); a postdoctoral fellow at UTS (2009); research associate at the ANU (2007), lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of NSW (1999-2004). Visiting scholar at Sun Yat Sen University (2013), and the School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University (2001). Various academic awards, including the best article prize for The Journal of Pacific History (2013), the Gordon White Prize for the best article in China Quarterly (2011), WJ Liu Esq. Memorial Prize (2001), UNSW-Tsinghua Scholarship (2001), Chinese Government Scholarship (1998-1999).

Current student projects


Col. Pete Connolly, Chinese and Australian interests in Melanesia

Shaun Gessler, China answers Yali’s question? Landowner politics at Ramu nickel

Bolwen Fu, How Does the CCP Promote Nationalism During Times of Crisis?

Olivia Leslie, Religious Management in Xi Jinping's China


Laurentina (Mica) Barreto Soares (Swinburne University), China and Timor-Leste’s state-building process

Ashalyna Noa (University of Canterbury), China and New Zealand’s foreign aid and soft power in the Pacific

Research interests

The political economy of: Chinese outbound direct investment in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, service delivery in rural China, development assistance, migration, resource projects, search engines, and agribusiness.


Researcher's projects

The Little Red Podcast. A monthly podcast on China beyond the Beijing beltway, hosted with Louisa Lim, former China correspondent for the BBC and NPR. The podcast is accompanied by monthly pieces in the Lowy Interpreter and the LA Review of Books, and is supported by the ANU's Centre on China in the World, Department of Pacific Affairs, and the University of Melbourne.

The China Alternative: Changing Regional Order in the Pacific Islands With Terence Wesley-Smith (University of Hawaii) this book project brings together Pacific and Chinese scholars to examine the shifting geopolitics of the Pacific. 

WeChat and the 2019 Australian Federal Election. Project with Kingwa Fu (Hong Kong University) and Sarah Logan (ANU IR) to determine the influence of WeChat official accounts on the Australian election.

The Impact of New Chinese Businesses in the Pacific: A survey of the private sector With Matthew Dornan (ANU DevPol) and Jonathan Pryke (Lowy Institute) this project examines the impact and influence of PRC construction companies in the Pacific. 

The Geopolitics of Search: Baidu Goes Global. Joint project with Sarah Logan (UNSW). With support from the Internet Policy Observatory at the Annenberg School for Communication we compare search engine censorship in SE Asia.

Interactive Governance Analysis of the Beche-De-Mer ‘Fish Chain’ from Papua New Guinea to Asian Markets. Led by Kate Barclay (UTS) with support from the Packard Foundation, this project mapped the supply chain for the Beche-De-Mer trade prior to the re-opening of the fishery.

The Impacts of Chinese Aid and Development Projects on Governance in PNG. With Sinclair Dinnen and Paul D'Arcy (both ANU) and supported by an Australian Development Research Award from AusAID. Initially focused on the impact of the Ramu Nickel Mine in Madang Province, this project has expanded to examine the impacts of Chinese outbound direct investment (ODI), aid and migration in the Asia Pacific region. There are projects underway in China (Beijing, Fujian and Yunnan), PNG, New Caledonia, Tonga, Samoa, East Timor, Vanuatu, Fiji and Myanmar.

Past student projects

Denghua Zhang, A promising new trend? Factors driving growing Chinese trilateral aid cooperation

Beyongo DynamicChinese Foreign Direct Investment in Australia and Zambia

He Wenzheng (Tsinghua University)The preservation and cultivation of moralities in a Fijian village

Chloe SullivanChinese Economic Statecraft in the Pacific


BSc (Hons), PhD (Sydney); BA (UNSW), PhD (ANU)

Expertise Areas

  • Government and Politics of Asia and the Pacific
  • Studies of Asian Society


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Network (past 5 years)

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