Building links with the future leaders of the world’s most populous country can be daunting but the vision, energy and leadership of Henry Makeham has proved it can be done.
Through founding a number of leading China-focused public diplomacy and education initiatives, Henry has advanced youth relations between Australia and China, as well as building on the existing comprehensive relationship ANU has with Asia.
In 2008, during Henry’s year in China as part of his Asian Studies degree, at Peking University, he co-founded the Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA). It was, and still is, Australia’s first apolitical not-for-profit national university network for young Australians who have an interest in China. ACYA conversely helps Chinese students studying in Australia to connect with China-engaged young Australians.
ACYA now has more than 5,000 members, a robust alumni community, a presence on most Australian university campuses and representation in Beijing and Nanjing. ANU is a founding partner and many University students and alumni have taken leadership roles.
Following the success of ACYA, in Henry’s penultimate year at ANU, he founded the Australia-China Youth Dialogue (ACYD)—now Australia’s leading track two leader’s forum. ACYD connects 15 high-performing early career Chinese professionals with 15 of their Australian counterparts. They are drawn from government, the private sector and academia. Targeting exceptional young leaders aged 22 to 35, the ACYD is held across four days and alternates between key cities in Australia and China annually. ACYD delegates investigate pertinent issues facing Australia-China relations, including geopolitical relations, international trade, creative industries and the environment.
The Australian Government has hailed the ACYD as a “premier event on the bilateral calendar”. ACYD is the only Australian organisation to have forged a working partnership with some key Chinese organisations, including the All-China Youth Federation (which has 300 million members) and the Chinese Communist Youth Leagues's official newspaper, the China Youth Daily.
The third arm of Henry’s public diplomacy work is the Australia-China Young Professionals Initiative, which helps young professionals in both countries.