All eyes are looking to Asia

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Article reproduced from the column of Stephen Yarwood, Adelaide’s Lord Mayor in the City Messenger.

Asia is booming. Its economy has proven resilient during economic downturn and it is overwhelming to contemplate cities bigger than Australia’s population.

Tokyo and Seoul are greater than 20 million and a further 10 Asian cities have populations of more than 10 million. That’s big!

Given Australia’s proximity to Asia, it is important we build a future with this region for cultural and economic benefit.

Asian students and immigration bring valuable business opportunities to our shores whilst cultural diversity and associated spectacular food make Adelaide a more dynamic and interesting destination.

All over the world local Chinatowns are the material expression of the growing connection between east and west.

Adelaide’s Moonta Street, located adjacent the Central Market and Gouger Street, is a good example of a focal point for people of diverse Asian backgrounds to share with locals and visitors alike.

Despite its appeal, Chinatown is in need of new vision that represents the rapid modernisation of these traditional cultures. A vision that, when implemented, will expand its activities and further connect Adelaide to the world.

Moonta Street is in need of some quick wins to create an energetic atmosphere akin to modern big city life. A splash of colour, perhaps culturally relevant street art, as well as improved character lighting is urgently needed.

I am hopeful that the Chinatown community, with some Council assistance, will roll out some classic hustle and bustle this summer and I anticipate the community will support this initiative with their feet.

Activating Chinatown with events is also important.

The Chinese Lunar New Year Celebrations are traditionally not a single day, but 15 days, and this brings with it exciting opportunities to bring the city to life. Sydney has 30 events over three weeks which attract nearly half a million people.

Such an expansion will be a work in progress over several years however 2012, the Year of the Dragon, seems an auspicious time start.

Council is reviewing its Development Plan and a long term vision for China Town needs to be created to lure international finance and development opportunities to Adelaide.

The precinct’s development potential, especially for high density housing, is significant and should be pursued with international capital.

All of these strategies can only help encourage more Asian students to study in Adelaide. International education is South Australia’s second biggest export, injecting about $1 billion to the economy and developing long-term personal ties between Adelaide and Asia.

It is in our best interests to ensure China Town flourishes.

It is our gateway to Asian business and a statement that Adelaide City Council is in the politics of globalization.

Cultural diversity is one of Adelaide’s strategic strengths and we must embrace international partnerships to forge a prosperous future.

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