FRIENDSHIP WITH CHINA IS SOMETHING WORTH CELEBRATING
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.