This book arose from a research project funded by the Australian Research Council and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The idea for the project first emerged in 1997 in discussions between Deborah Cass and Geoff Raby, former head of the Trade Negotiations Division at DFAT, and subsequently Australian ambassador to the World Trade Organization; and Graeme Thomson, formerly principal adviser in the DFAT Trade Negotiations Division, who oversaw much of Australia's role in the accession negotiations. The success of the project owes a great debt to the inspiration of Geoff Raby, and to the generosity of Graeme Thomson, who was always willing to share the wisdom of his vast experience in trade relations, and his understanding and appreciation of the unique questions arising from the Chinese accession. Invaluable advice and assistance was also received from other DFAT personnel during the project, including Toni Harmer, Ian Macintosh, Klea Maniatis, John Stroop and Antony Taubman in Canberra, Philippa Kelly in Beijing, and Rick Wells in Geneva.
The three-year project, which ran from 1998 to 2001, produced a series of results, in the form of seminars, working papers, essays, a website, a major conference and ultimately this publication. It was instrumental in bringing together, sometimes for the first time, interested parties from business, government and academia, to discuss the crucial issue of China's accession to the World Trade Organization. In March 2001 an international conference was held in Canberra, Australia, as a culmination of the project.