Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 August 2015) . . Page.. 2180 ..
The three primary objectives of the June mission to Singapore and China were to reinforce the ACT government’s commitment to foster trade and investment links with Singapore; to reinforce the government’s commitment to strengthening the Canberra-Shenzhen relationship and commitments under the memorandum of understanding signed in October 2014; and to welcome two Canberra students travelling to Shenzhen as part of the Canberra-Shenzhen innovation intern exchange program, the first education outcome of the MOU signed between the ACT and Shenzhen.
Before I detail the mission activities, Madam Speaker, allow me to reinforce the significance of our sister city relationship with Beijing and China’s significance to the ACT more broadly.
Beijing is China’s global economic hub. It is also China’s capital city. It has a population exceeding 20 million people and it is that nation’s political and educational centre. Beijing’s museums and universities, all with histories dating back millennia, have made Beijing the centre of culture and art in China.
The sister city relationship that we share has been highly collaborative, beneficial and rewarding through its 15-year history. Most recently, during our 2013 centenary year, the Beijing municipal government gifted Canberra the stunningly impressive Beijing garden, located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. In 2008 Canberra was privileged to host the Beijing Olympic torch relay, a particular honour, as Canberra was the only Australian city selected to participate in that year’s relay. In 2010, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our sister city relationship, Canberra’s Chinese community generously presented our city with the impressive Confucius statue that is located on Woolley Street in Dickson. Such is the value to Canberra of our generous and prominent Chinese community, a community that is highly active in Canberra’s multicultural landscape and plays a key role in strengthening our engagement with China.
It is probably not widely realised that around two per cent of our city’s population was born in China and that Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language in Canberra after English. Further to this, Chinese students form the largest international student group at Canberra campuses. There are around 5,500 Chinese students enrolled in our education system.
In addition, and to further reinforce the significance of China to the ACT economy, the ACT regularly receives more visits from Chinese tourists than from tourists from any other country. Chinese people in general have a high awareness of Canberra and a strong desire to visit our city, which is supported by Tourism Research Australia data that indicates that Canberra received around 29,000 Chinese visitors in the year ending December 2014, an increase of 36 per cent on the previous year.
This strong visitation trend was supported by the outstanding success of Canberra’s involvement in the 2015 AFC Asian football cup tournament. The match between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 18 January 2015 was a sellout. A significant number of visitors from the Sydney Chinese community