Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - OPINION -

MANY Aussies will be par­ty­ing with the Chi­nese com­mu­nity next week to cel­e­brate the Chi­nese New Year.

De­spite our south­ern star tat­toos we will en­joy dim-sum, raise a toast to gan­bei, pad­dle in a dragon boat and without reser­va­tion say g’day to some­one wear­ing a red ban­dana.

We will not think about any great cul­tural di­vide but sub­con­sciously ac­cept that Chi­nese New Year has now be­come part of our so­cial cal­en­dar.

Such is the power of Aus­tralia’s sub­lim­i­nal mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. That week­end will be yet another cel­e­bra­tion which we have marked down as an event not to be missed.

How­ever, de­spite the grass­roots mate­ship, the re­cent de­bate around Aus­tralia-Sino re­la­tions has be­come in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing for all par­ties.

China has opened its bor­ders in many ways. Both coun­tries en­joy the ben­e­fits of trade; we are both ma­jor forces of calm at each end of the hot­bed of pot­pourri in Asia; and we share the vi­sion of in­creased pros­per­ity of our re­spec­tive peo­ple.

Di­rect flights into China now mean that Aussies can ex­pe­ri­ence the won­ders of a cul­ture that spans thou­sands of years, just as the Chi­nese can ap­pre­ci­ate the won­ders of Aus­tralia and our nat­u­ral beauty, in­clud­ing our indige­nous cul­ture that also spans thou­sands of years.

For sev­eral decades, Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties have opened their doors to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and stu­dents from China have been a ma­jor source of the in­ward flow. This in­flux has pro­vided both our com­mu­ni­ties with sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits.

The in­com­ing stu­dents have boosted our econ­omy both at a na­tional and lo­cal level. They travel, they ex­plore, they spend and they con­sume. But be­yond that rather self-cen­tred im­me­di­acy, in­ter­na­tional stu­dents cre­ate a vi­brancy and di­ver­sity which we all en­joy.

Home-stays, in­tro­duc­tions to in­ter­na­tional net­works, and per­haps most im­por­tantly re­mind­ing us that we are part of a global com­mu­nity are all fur­ther ben­e­fits we re­ceive from in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

Not­with­stand­ing, through our Gov­ern­ment we do have cause to pause and ques­tion the geopol­i­tics, and the strat­egy of soft diplo­macy. But let the politi­cians do what we pay them to do.

We should not let the high­level pol­i­tics get in the way of recog­nis­ing and cel­e­brat­ing that some of our neigh­bours orig­i­nate from a for­eign land.

Take a mo­ment to re­flect that the stu­dents and many of their fam­i­lies from China and other coun­tries have made Aus­tralia their study des­ti­na­tion. This de­ci­sion in­volves sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial and emo­tional in­vest­ment and we should be proud that we have ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions of high stand­ing and a sup­port­ive cul­ture that at­tracts stu­dents from all over the world.

So when you are eat­ing your dim-sum over the Chi­nese New Year, please take a mo­ment to re­flect that we all ben­e­fit and should be thank­ful that the restau­ra­teur and their ex­tended fam­ily chose Aus­tralia. Xie xie.

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