Reading about G’day USA, got me thinking – it’s time that we have a Ni Hao China event.

Knew I overindulged on those garlic prawns last night, but this is ridiculous. Photo: AFP

G’day USA is an annual event in Los Angeles to promote Australian tourism and trade opportunities with the US and has been going on for a decade. Most famous for the celebrities it attracts.

Yet our top trading partner is China, followed by Japan then the US. Last year Australia and China celebrated 40 years of diplomatic recognition.

All the indicators point to China for future growth opportunities: growing middle class; economically strong and becoming stronger; our most valued customer for our mining sector; not to mention cultural linkages.

Take Sydney, the most common language spoken after English are the Chinese languages. Chinese tourists flock to Sydney and Australia for Lunar New Year celebrations each year, which this year will take place on February 10.

Last year’s Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival attracted 600,000 people across all festival events. An estimated 150,000 people from China and across Asia also visited Sydney.

Research commissioned by Tourism Australia found a record 542,000 Chinese visited Australia during 2011, around 20 percent growth on 2010.

Not only are Chinese visiting in record numbers, they are also spending at record levels. Overnight expenditure is more than $3.8 billion, making it our most valuable export market.

By 2020, Chinese visitors have the potential to bring in excess of $7 billion and $9 billion each year into the Australian economy, more than doubling their current economic contribution.

There are 100,000 students enrolled in Australia, from China, and several thousand Australian students come to China to study.

In 2011, China became the largest single source of migrants to Australia, overtaking the United Kingdom.

The Federal Government is pursuing an upgrading of Australia’s relationship with China, similar to the US, Japan and Indonesia.

The proposal includes an annual leaders’ summit. Australia has a similar summit with the United States, AUSMIN. Held annually, alternating between Australia and the United States, bringing together Ministers and Secretaries responsible for Foreign Affairs and Defence.

Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam writing in 2002 said:

The policy of foreign engagement, based on working with China, such a policy will be in turn readily understood and accepted by China. Seldom have the paths of national honour and rational self interest run in such close parallel.

Perhaps Tourism Australia in the spirit of “rational self interest” should consider moving G’day USA to Ni Hao China.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

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    • SAm says:

      06:17am | 23/01/13

      how come we speak Aussie in America but expected to speak chinese in China?

    • ZSRenn says:

      07:15am | 23/01/13

      Every Chinese student learns English. And Aussie in Cantonese means to take a shit.

      Which brings me to my point in question. Is Australia capable of mounting a campaign that would attract Chinese to its shores

      Running with Take a shit, Take a shit, Take a shit. Oi Oi Oi probably wouldn’t be the best idea!

    • Trevor says:

      08:24am | 23/01/13

      Having lived in china myself for a period I can tell you that nobody expects you to speak Chinese. In fact most of the locals I met insisted on speaking in English- or chinglish. That was in 2002 and they were amazed at my hairy legs and the blonde hair of the girls. They couldn’t keep their hands to themselves! I was called a monkey due to my legs but it was in no way racist- or maybe so racist that it didn’t register? The non-PC worldview of the Chinese is surprisingly refreshing. As is their concept of safety and personal responsibility. Walking over a pedestrian bridge in Beijing I commented on the overhanging power lines (which you could reach up and grab) to my Chinese friend ‘this would never be allowed in Australia!’ his reply?’ Here in china we know not to touch’! Gold.

    • Josie says:

      08:58am | 23/01/13

      Sam you’re an idiot. I bet you’re one of those people that say “Anyone form another country HAVE TO speak english in my country” whilst opening the VB bottle with your teeth. If you expect this then don’t be surprised when other people expect it in their own country.

    • Gregg says:

      09:02am | 23/01/13

      You first need to appreciate that Aussie is slang for being an Australian and not an abbreviation of speaking english which we do have in common with the US though we do have our inflections as they do theirs and an increasing population speaking spanish as well.

      Speaking a Chinese language in China would be sensible in that most of their population are not so able in conversing in english though I would not be surprised if a few Australian sayings could not be thrown about.

    • Rose says:

      12:01pm | 23/01/13

      Sam sounds like some (ignorant) people I know who went on a cruise through Asia. Apparently they would have had a great time if there weren’t so many damn Asians.

    • Mahhrat says:

      06:34am | 23/01/13

      Why not both?

      We need non-mining interests, and tourism fits very naturally with our climate and exceptionally beautiful country.

      God knows the tourism and hospitality industry could use a hand.  It’s not rocket surgery.

    • Gregg says:

      09:07am | 23/01/13

      He may mean both Mahhrat and as far as moving, more means just using the same concept I suspect.
      No rocket science in that.


      06:44am | 23/01/13

      Hi Sassoon,

      A great topic once again and I am really impressed with your Chinese language skills.  About half a million Chinese tourists visiting Australia in 2011, well it is something but do we want more tourists visiting Australia from other parts of the globe as well?  Only one question for you if we have such a great alliance and friendship with China, why Qantas did not merge with a Chinese airline?  I am also finding that with your version we are only welcoming the Chinese over any other nationality? 

      Let me also tell you that in facts and figures that a smallish nation like Turkey has welcomed close to 25 million tourists in one year.  And having a new elite/middle class in China doesn’t change the fact that most Chinese are already living in abject poverty.  This is so similar to the story and great sell about India being the largest democracy where over 600 million Indians living without access to clean water, electricity and basic sanitation. So next time can we have a more true to life article about real China with so many human rights violations, one child policy and the problems it brings with it. 

      Somehow I totally have heard enough about the Chinese students getting a top education and I truly would like to hear that Australian students have the equal chances regardless if their parents have the money or not.  Because in a true democracy every one has equal rights to everything and not only a certain portion of the society, just like in the brand new success story which happens to be China. Kind regards.

    • ZSRenn says:

      07:49am | 23/01/13


      Mao is dead and they have the interwebs now! China has changed since 1949, when you last visited and please stop referencing your knowledge of China from propaganda tools known as Amnesty International or the Dalai Lama.

      Yes it still has its problems but so would Australia if you had a 49 ethnic groups living next door to each other who until 60 years ago were at constant war for the last 5000 years.

      After events in Chongqing when a young man was jailed for protesting against the leaders of the city and then was subsequently released, when the Mayor was jailed and his wife convicted of murder, China has drafted new laws which make it illegal for citizens to be held without open trial.

      Two years ago they introduced the aged pension for the first time in its 5000 year history.

      Health care is available.

      The poorest of the Chinese, the immigrant workers have now been given seats in the CCP. (Proudly this move was first introduced in Zhongshan in 2011)

      Massive money is being spent trying to develop some of the poorer areas. One of the difficulties they face is that some of the ethnic groups wish to retain their cultural identity fully and are happy with their existence even though by our definition they live in abject poverty. The Chinese government is willing to allow this to continue, however in some cases, it is impossible for these ethnic groups to retain all of their customs. Some were head hunters and I am sure all would agree this is not a culture that should be nurtured fully.

      Again I have to ask the question; Is Australia capable of launching a campaign like this in China, having so many misconceptions about the place?

    • Gregg says:

      09:18am | 23/01/13

      I reckon if you were in the tourism industry Neslihan and reliant on iot for your livelihood as we all are indirectly with flow ons as with any industry, you would not mind too much where the tourists were coming from as long as they had money to spend.
      Australia is a lot further for most to travel to than it is likely for the tourists from mainly Europe that probably head to Turkey, Greece and other meditteranean areas also getting plenty of northern European visitors looking for warmer weather, especially in summer months.

      Sassoon is not putting out an article to display all aspects of China and China just like India with more than fifty times our own population is always going to have many issues re minorities and all sorts of wealth distribution, just like India and even Australia has on a much smaller scale.
      International students coming to Australia, be it from China, India or wherever have some very stringent visa and cost requirements, fees to be paid up front unlike Australians that can opt to use the HECS approach.
      In fact there was just a recent report that stated that something like $26B in HECS fees are owed to the government and that in effect is Australian taxpayers, something like $6B never ever expected to be recovered.
      The full fee international students no doubt help to offset some of that and yes, it does cost a considerable ammount of money to run our educational facilities and that money has to come from somewhere.

      Qantas would have made their decision on any merger along business requirements lines just as they and other organisations no doubt always do, looking to remain competitive so as to exist.

    • Frank says:

      06:54am | 23/01/13

      Its called English not ‘Aussie’ for one…

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:36am | 23/01/13

      If it can be run by the BCA then great. If run by a bunch of public servants then it will fail.

      Good idea. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    • efrandi says:

      07:45am | 23/01/13

      There are no cultural linkages apart from people of asian decent.
      “Last year’s Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival attracted 600,000 people across all festival events.”
      Meaning an unspecified number of unique visitors went to the festivals in which the total participation totalled 600 000 ie. people went to more than one event and most of these participants were asian anyway.
      Besides, we speak English; they don’t. We value freedom; they don’t. Additionally, I would like to see evidence of these “several thousand Australian students [who] come to China to study.” considering year 12 study of the language is non-existent. Besides, maintaining a relation with other english speaking countries is never a bad thing, although throwing money at daytime talk shows shows a need to change strategy on tourism Australia’s part.

    • ZSRenn says:

      08:33am | 23/01/13

      The students have to pass the ILETS examination and need a score of 6 in all facets Reading, writing, listening and speaking. All students begin leaning English in Kindergarten

      Most will then do an English course at Uni when they arrive to improve their level before moving on to their subject studies.

      100,000 students is about .000007% of the population of China and I would argue that this figure is probably higher although we have strong competition from the USA, Canada and England which have classes in some schools, specifically designed and manned by their citizens, to prepare the students for arrival at Uni.

      i would suggest that rather than a Nihao campaign, a campaign to better attract students to our shores is a better spend of any monies.

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      08:45am | 23/01/13

      Most Chinese in China learn English as a second language and are quite fluent.

    • GS says:

      09:13am | 23/01/13


      They may be required to achieve a 6 across all test categories but after first hand experience with international students in university from non-English speaking backgrounds I have serious concerns.

      For some of them their level of written English is not up to an acceptable standard and this includes fourth year students. Either they are lazy when it comes to writing or they really don’t know how to write.

      Either the testing standards are not adequate or they work hard for the ILEST (or equivalent) to get the mark and then don’t worry about their standard of writing once they are in (probably because it is not usually assessed as part of an assignment or exam).

    • marley says:

      09:50am | 23/01/13

      The IELTS is a reasonable test, but I suspect there’s a lot of corruption and fraud in its delivery.  I’ve certainly encountered people whose capacity to speak and write English was considerably lower than their test results suggested it should have been.

    • ZSRenn says:

      10:24am | 23/01/13

      @ Marley There isn’t any major corruption that I am aware of. Maybe the odd student who’s father has a lot of “friends in significant places” might slip through but it is not the norm. If there was I’d have a lot less stress come exam time!

      I have about 30 of my ex students in OZ now, however, with organised programs from universities in the US and England, some offering financial support for the students, they send that number in weeks not years although recent events in the US have caused parents to question the wisdom of their only son studying there.

    • marley says:

      10:36am | 23/01/13

      @ZSRenn - I couldn’t say about China, but I do know I’ve encountered people from elsewhere in Asia, and from Eastern Europe, with very questionable English language ability.

    • Colin says:

      09:22am | 23/01/13

      And what is so wrong with being allied with China? Why must we insist on siding with the good ol’ US of A? It really amazes me that we actually live in Australasia, our nearest neighbours are Asian (in their hundreds and hundreds of millions), we trade heavily in this area, and yet we align ourselves with an ageing ‘Superpower’ that - apart from wanting to police the Entire World - exists on the other sisde of the planet…

      Absolute idiocy

    • Gregg says:

      09:31am | 23/01/13

      Maybe all the more reason Shane to develop closer links with China, just not for tourism but to display we are neither wolfish nor tigerish despite our recent housing of marines and naval forces of the US agreement.

      It might even be something of value to be got from our SC seat if were to be seen as being able to have the likes of China and Japan peacefully settle their islands dispute and also even see other issues that may be of concern addressed.

      They might choose to ignore any moves we may attempt but at least no harm could or ought to really come from an unbiased approach and at the very least it may provide a much greater and valuable insight into longer term Chinese thinking by maintaining as much dialogue as possible.

    • marley says:

      09:46am | 23/01/13

      @Colin - well, for one things, countries ally themselves with countries with which they have common interests.  Proximity isn’t the key factor, or the Germans and the French would have been allies in two world wars.  If interests are different, or in competition, you don’t necessarily want to get involved in a formal diplomatic and military alliance.  You trade and do business and you leave it at that.

      If you think we should ally ourselves with an Asian nation, then why on earth a dictatorship like China?  Why not a democracy like Indonesia or India?

    • wakeupplss says:

      10:03am | 23/01/13


      Colin is of the ideal that all peoples and cultures are equal and can be co-mingled with no issue. In other words, he believes in the tooth fairy.

    • Colin says:

      10:05am | 23/01/13

      @ marley

      “...a democracy like Indonesia or India…”

      Yes, a DEMOCRACY like those…Sheesh, Marley, in what far-fetched version of Cloud-Cuckooland do you live?

      Indonesia and India have regimes that care not one jot for their lower-classes and castes, have absolutely atrocious human-rights records, they torture, kill, and unjustly imprison many thousands of their citizens…the list is endless as to their anti-democratic natures!

      And as for us aligning with the US on “...common interests…”

      What, prey tell, are those? Our common interest in the Whole World speaking English? Our common interest in excluding Asians from our sphere? Our common interest in setting ourselves up for a fall as the World’s self-appointed policemen..?

      Seriously, we have common interests with our neighbours, and we have reasons aplenty to be part of an Asian future…Or does your jingoism cloud your view that much?

    • marley says:

      10:23am | 23/01/13

      @Colin - I am aware of the corruption, the poor human rights records, the unjust imprisonment that takes place in India and Indonesia. I am aware of the complete disinterest in the poorer members of the population.  Of course, the record of these two countries is still somewhat better than China’s.  I’m not sure what cloud cuckoo-land you reside in that you would think otherwise.  And, as I said, they are democracies, which no one could possibly argue that China is.

      I reckon we have more interests in common with either or both of them than with China.  And oddly enough, they are in Asia.  I’m not quite sure how suggesting alliances with them makes me a pro-American jingoist.

    • Tubesteak says:

      10:59am | 23/01/13

      Why should we get involved in something that has little to do with us (excepting the fall-out from a war with our major trading partners)?

      I know that Machiavelli said to always take a side in conflict, but I don’t think we should invite ourselves into it.

    • Colin says:

      11:01am | 23/01/13

      @ Marley

      “I’m not quite sure how suggesting alliances with them (Indonesia, India) makes me a pro-American jingoist. “

      Precisely because you are suggesting them INSTEAD of China, despite their similarly atrocious human rights records. Your jingoism only sees acceptable alliances that align with American ways of thinking…However, because you are so heavily blinkered by your own worldview, you fail to see this.

    • marley says:

      11:21am | 23/01/13

      @Colin - yes, I’m suggesting them instead of China.  So what?  India has been formally non-aligned for as long as I can remember, and so, for that matter, has Indonesia.  Or perhaps you didn’t know that.  Neither is in the Americans’ back pocket and I don’t know why you think they are or ever have been, or why an alliance with one or both of them would be a continuation of present policy. 

      And, as I said, both have better human rights records than China does.  And, though it doesn’t seem to matter to you, at least they are democracies, imperfect perhaps, but democracies nonetheless.  I cannot see anything jingoistic about suggesting that there are better potential partners in Asia than China, and that these would be two of them.

    • Colin says:

      11:54am | 23/01/13

      @ marley

      “In the late 1990s, the United States and India embarked on a partnership based largely on three strategic issues: markets, counter-terrorism, and balancing China. With the opening of India’s economy in 1991, the United States saw India’s billion-strong population as a massive market for its businesses. In the wake of 9/11, Washington came to see India’s travails against Islamist militants in Kashmir and Afghanistan through the lens of its War on Terror and increased counter-terrorism cooperation with New Delhi. And as India’s and China’s strategic spaces began to overlap, managing China’s rise became a common concern for both New Delhi and Washington. With that in mind, the United States and India reversed decades of enmity and, through the 2006 nuclear deal, embarked upon…”

      “Against this personal and political backdrop, it is scarcely surprising that Obama’s 2008 conception of alliances appeared to be both new and liberal. He argued that in a world of complex interdependence,
      the United States needed to look beyond traditional tools such as security alliances. Instead, the new president would have to work more closely with emerging powers such as India, Brazil, and INDONESIA…” (My emphasis)

      Yes, marley, you ARE influenced by American jingoistically-motivated thoughts…You just can’t see it.

    • Rose says:

      12:08pm | 23/01/13

      Australia should be cultivating as many good relationships with other countries as we can. UK, US, China, Indonesia and India could be great allies for us, I don’t see why we have to pick and choose between them at all!!

    • marley says:

      12:45pm | 23/01/13

      @Colin - oh for crying out loud. Did you even read your own link?  “India has not fallen in line on the issue of Iran, Washington is only slowly coming around on Pakistani militancy, the countries’ UN voting records do not mesh, and trade disagreements abound. Questions have been raised over why U.S.-India relations have cooled, or whether they were over hyped in the first place.”

      The US has had trade relations with both China and India for decades; in fact, it gave China MFN status over 30 years ago.  That doesn’t mean either is an ally or that either marches to the American drummer.  Countries which are very far from being American satellites will work with it on matters of common interest, and that includes nations like India, Pakistan, Brazil, Russia and China itself.  That doesn’t put them in the American sphere. 

      And the whole point of Obama’s speech was to point out that traditional alignments no longer apply.  Countries which do not support the US in some areas will work with them in others, and the future lies with those case-by-case agreements to cooperate on specific issues, rather than with cold-war era style formal pacts and alliances to back one another come what may. 

      India, Brazil, Indonesia, will not enter into traditional alliances with the US, so the US is having to come up with new ways of relating to them.  Your quotes support my view, not your own.

    • Colin says:

      02:04pm | 23/01/13

      @ marley

      “The US has had trade relations with both China and India for decades; in fact, it gave China MFN status over 30 years ago.  That doesn’t mean either is an ally or that either marches to the American drummer.  Countries which are very far from being American satellites will work with it on matters of common interest, and that includes nations like India, Pakistan, Brazil, Russia and China itself…”

      Oh, I get it; you’re American, aren’t you? Maybe not a citizen - per se - but something close…Canadian, perhaps?

      It’s all in your completely blinkered attitude and turn of phrase…“The idea of Coca-Colonisation of the world is strong in this one…”

    • marley says:

      02:25pm | 23/01/13

      @Colin - You can’t address the points I made, so you go for the ad hominem attack.  Weak. 

      You are wrong about the relationship between India and the US, and your own source provides the evidence.  You think that the only alternative to an alliance with the US is one with China.  I have provided two obvious alternatives to China that do not involve the US, both of which are Asian, one of which is an incredibly important neighbour, and both of which are emerging democracies and economies. 

      Or we could simply avoid any alliances at all and join the Non Aligned Movement.  But you can’t see beyond China.  And you think I’m the one with a blinkered view of the world?

    • Mont says:

      02:39pm | 23/01/13

      Colin I don’t think people have a problem with China as much as they do the CPC. I agree with Marley that there are better countries in the region, I am thinking of Indonesia in particular, with whom we could consider aligning ourselves. Let’s not forget the CPC increasingly flexing it’s economic & diplomatic muscle in attempting to restrict free speech in other countries, examples in Australia include the Geremie Barme incident last year, the Uigher film incident in Melbourne 2009 and the tedious moaning about any upcoming visits from the Dalai Lama. This smothering of free speech is a fundamental culture clash with the CPC (not China or Chinese people) and we should be extremely wary of the party’s behaviour in this regard.
      Also - disagreeing with your pro-China idea doth not a pro American jingiost make!


    • Troy Flynn says:

      04:01pm | 23/01/13

      Rose: Like it or not we have to pick and choose who our friends are carefully because who we choose and to what level we side with them will always be an issue for the others. You can’t for example have a very close relationship with China without the U.S. getting offended. Same with India and Pakistan. Argentina would be less likely to support us if we towed the UK line over the Falklands / (Malvinas).
      We humans are petty and vindictive in a lot of aspects of our lives.
      Just look at the situation in NT over the senate candidate. Incumbent supported Krudd, gets punted for a sports star with no political experience.

    • DOB says:

      04:22pm | 23/01/13

      Marley, believe it or not China is - technically - a democracy as well. Not one that you or I might recognise but there you go.

      As for Indonesia being non-aligned, uh, no.  In fact Indonesia is in dispute with China over a number of islands in the south china sea as well and is now moving to cement its relations with Japan, Australia, the USA, the Phillipines and Vietnam. To think they are non-aligned is silly.

    • marley says:

      06:02pm | 23/01/13

      @DOB - sorry, but what you’re describing with Indonesia is a country looking after its own self interest, not a country that’s going to march in lockstep with the US.  Throughout the Cold War, the Non-Aligned countries, including both Indonesia and India, picked which issues on which they could expect to get American support, and on which they could expect Russian support, without ever signing up to either bloc.  What’s happening now is no different:  the Indonesians are going to play off the Americans and the Chinese to their own best advantage, without committing to either.  And more power to them.

    • Billy Whizz says:

      09:20am | 23/01/13

      The photo is of the legendary Comanche Fire Wolf actually kissing a human, much more interesting.

    • Mont says:

      02:50pm | 23/01/13

      jesus - that’s a good observation

    • HC says:

      11:56am | 23/01/13

      I think some of the comments above highlight the reason why Australians aren’t as aware of tourism campaigns in Asia instead of the US.  There’s the “Asian invasion” lot, the “reds under the bed” lot and by far the most common of all the idiot.

      Since no political party in Australia can possibly ever form government without the moron vote you’ve got to keep them happy and you do this by being as non-threatening as possible.  Asians upset the average moron because they look a little different and have some slightly different customs.  Since Australian morons aren’t threatened by Americans (except of course for the really stupid but thankfully rare anti-US, anti-globalisation moron) G’day USA gets a lot more coverage here.

    • Leo Seaton, Tourism Australia says:

      03:41pm | 23/01/13

      Tourism Australia made a very symbolic decision last year, when it chose Shanghai to launch its latest global campaign, There’s Nothing Like Australia. The fact that within weeks it had been viewed by more than 20 million Chinese suggests the call to launch in China was the right one

    • Tbird says:

      05:41pm | 23/01/13

      Are there any other cities in Australia other than Sydney?
      Sydney this Sydney that…....your not that great other than the habour views - its a shit hole.


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