CIBEL PhD Scholar Xue Bai wins the Concurrences 2022 PhD Award for her research on Chinese State-Owned Enterprises

30 September 2022

By Hanna Jez 


CIBEL PhD Scholar and teaching fellow at UNSW Law and Justice Dr Xue (Sophia) Bai has been co-awarded the Concurrences 2022 PhD. Award for her research on the ‘Reform of Chinese State-Owned Enterprises: What China Can Learn from the Practice of Competitive Neutrality Policy in Australia.’  

The Concurrences PhD Awards are designed by the independent legal publishing company to identify and publish notable works of research which explore specific topics within the realms of competition and regulation law or economic law. The publishing house itself has a considerable influence on practitioners within government, business, and academic fields because of its important work on antitrust law and competition economics. Concurrences reaches an audience across 85 jurisdictions, solidifying its importance in the world of international law and policy. Concurrences is the organiser of regular important competition law conferences addressing a wide range of competition law issues, and the annual Antitrust Awards, with the presentation ceremony in Washington each year.

Sophia graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree at UNSW Law & Justice in 2021, where she conducted her research into the reform of Chinese state-owned enterprises under the supervision of Professor Deborah Healey, Professor Heng Wang, Professor Leon Trakman and Professor Mark Williams.  
Sophia has been with the CIBEL Centre since its establishment in 2015, initially working as a research assistant for our members. More recently, she has taken on the role of a part-time administrator for the company. Sophia has also been working as a casual research administrator for the UNSW Law & Justice Faculty since 2021, providing support for SSRN and AustLII matters to the Faculty Research Team. She is currently teaching this semester’s Legal Research and Writing Class for the UNSW Law School.  

Sophia’s PhD explores how countries can maintain a level playing field when state-owned enterprises are competing in the market. Maintaining a level playing field is vital as SOEs can restrain the competitive process within markets by relying on government ownership and political connections, taking business away from competing efficient firms. Markets which sustain the survival of less efficient firms are unlikely to be economically efficient, making consumers suffer in the long run. From a competition law perspective, allowing SOEs to take advantage of government ownership and political connections can send the wrong message to other players in the market – they insinuate that to survive in the market, you need to pursue control and politically-driven relationships, rather than improving the country's overall productivity and market efficiency.  

One of Sophia’s related articles, jointly authored with CIBEL colleagues can be seen in the Cambridge University Press International & Comparative Law Quarterly.  

We managed to secure some time with the busy Scholar and asked about her experience with UNSW CIBEL’s PhD Program. As well as commending her four ‘incredibly diligent and supportive supervisors’ on preparing her for the role of a young scholar in the law industry, Sophia mentioned three main skills she was able to refine in the PhD program: 

  • How to lead a long-term research project, which requires dedication, discipline, and a well-considered timeframe  

  • Collaborating with various co-authors, and finding a way to formulate everyone’s ideas cohesively within a research paper  

  • Presenting research with confidence to an audience.  

Sophia summarised her time studying with CIBEL in a few sentences:  

‘It was a privilege and eye-opening experience to study at UNSW and CIBEL, which provided a very nurturing and supportive environment. I really enjoyed collaborating with CIBEL members, who were incredibly talented and easy to work with.’ 

Sophia spoke about her research at CIBEL’s 2021 Young Scholars Workshop: A Progressive Law in a Changing World. The recording can be found on our website. She will also be sharing more of her knowledge on competition law on the second panel of the upcoming 2022 CIBEL-JCICEL Conference which will be exploring the recent developments in competition and digital regulation.  

Congratulations, Sophia!  

CIBEL continues to offer many courses to equip students with the knowledge and analytical skills needed to tackle the broad spectrum of contemporary issues within the field of international business and economic law, particularly concerning the Asia-Pacific region, including its PhD program.  

Find out more on how you can study with us on our website.