My China Story | Daniel Quirk (United Kingdom)

Over the past three years since my first internship in Beijing, I’ve developed an ever-growing interest on China through various academic and professional experiences which culminated in my application to the Yenching Academy.


I first visited China in June 2016 on a university scholarship, where I began a month-long internship in Beijing with both public affairs and public relations organisations Interel Group and SPRG. As a first-year undergraduate I still only had a vague idea of what types of careers I wanted to pursue and so hoped this opportunity would help me develop a clearer plan for the future. The internship excelled my expectations and initiated my interest in working towards a career in political risk consultancy. It also made me aware of how many opportunities there were in China for international young professionals and so I was determined to come back to China.


I returned to Beijing in summer 2018 on a Generation UK-China scholarship to intern again, this time with the China Britain Business Council. Interning at CBBC reinforced my intent to pursue a career which would allow me to have regular contact with China. I saw first-hand how international businesses work in China and how British organisations make decisions when trading in China. Both internships contributed towards my curiosity in further studying China-EU-UK trilateral relations and motivated my intent to pursue a role in advising British, European and Chinese companies on political developments and financial risks in the future.

I had already taken several modules at university on Chinese history and contemporary politics in the years following my first internship experience in Beijing. However, knowing that I wanted to come back to work in China in the future and that I required a postgraduate degree for the types of careers I was considering, I decided that it was necessary for me to study in China to really understand the Chinese perspective towards international relations. I also wanted to improve my Mandarin skills and so this was also an important motivation behind my decision to study for my postgraduate in Beijing.


I first heard about the Yenching Academy programme through a fellow intern whilst I was in China in 2018 and decided to research into it further. I was attracted by the diversity of the programme, as well as the ability for scholars to pursue their own specialisations. I really wanted a postgraduate degree which would give me a broad understanding of China whilst also allowing me to continue specialising in China-EU relations, which the Yenching Academy’s flexible curriculum offers. I am looking forward to enhancing my existing knowledge of China’s modern history and politics further at the Yenching Academy, as well as learning about the economic dimension of China’s rise through the core curriculum to understand the past, present and future of China’s role in globalisation.

On my previous trips to China I did manage to visit Hebei and Inner Mongolia which exposed me to aspects of rural and ethnic minority life. However, apart from these two short trips I have not had many opportunities to immerse myself in the many diverse areas of China outside of Beijing. Therefore, I hope that the programme’s field study trips to Xi’an and other regions will allow me to gain a deeper cultural knowledge of China to gain a more holistic understanding of the country.


In addition to the academic opportunities that the Yenching Academy will open, I am also eager to make the most of the professional and personal opportunities the programme brings. I intend to make the most of my time in Beijing to expand my professional network and unlock new career opportunities. Beijing is a very dynamic city for young professionals to be in with regular networking events, established international organisations and a flourishing start-up sector and so I am sure that being at the Yenching Academy will enrich both my academic and professional experiences. I have always enjoyed working in international environments and sharing perspectives with people from different regions and cultures. I therefore see the Yenching Academy as a unique opportunity for scholarly exchange to share my own specialisation in EU-China relations and learn from fellow scholars’ in their concentrations within a diverse community.


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