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Oxford Student Interview | Part 2: Why you should consider studying UK-China relations.

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

Matthew Hurst (Oxford '21, Manchester '15) completed his MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford. His professional background is in operations roles with a focus on UK-China projects. He has been a member of delegations between the UK and China, spoken at conferences, and published articles about UK-China. Matthew earned a First Class BA in Philosophy from the University of Manchester, receiving the Dean's Award and three other awards.

This is the final part in a 4-part series featuring Matthew's advice and experience.


Key Words:

  • "Beyond political policies and economic figures is a fascinating, complex and evolving society."

  • "Appreciates that other perspectives exist."

Q: What initially made you interested in UK and China relations?

A: Money. When I graduated from my undergraduate degree and joined the workforce, we were in the depths of the so-called ‘golden age’ of UK-China relations. The UK government and government-funded bodies were looking to increase ties with China in any way possible, and private companies followed their lead. The ‘golden age’ has long since evaporated, but most people will acknowledge that China is already an economic superpower. Like any other nation, it also uses its economic leverage for political purposes, too: the two spheres are inexorably linked.

Beyond political policies and economic figures is a fascinating, complex and evolving society. China’s history, the interactions China has had in both the recent and distant past with other nations, and the wider social landscape in which China’s political and business leaders are embedded all feed into the UK-China relationship. These ‘softer’ aspects have traditionally been overlooked, but are nonetheless significant motivating factors providing the frame through which contemporary relations are seen. I wrote more about this in an essay for Young Diplomat Review.

Q: What type of person do you think could work well in international relations?

A: Someone who does not see themselves as the centre of the universe and appreciates that other perspectives exist.

Thanks for reading!
  • If you were interested in this article, read more about Careers here.

  • Read all of Matthew's articles here.

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