“A strong vision for Chinatown” by Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood

“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 over 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.

The signing of a Sister City Agreement with Qingdao, a city of 9 million people, is so significant even the media has been talking it up!

All over the world local China Towns are the material expression of the growing connection between east and west. Adelaide’s Moonta Street, perfectly 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, China Town 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. These simple yet important changes, as well as free Wi-Fi, have either been implemented or are being pursued now.

Conversations regarding a night market are still needed. I am hopeful that the China Town community, with some Council assistance, will roll out some classic hustle and bustle and I anticipate the community will support this initiative with their feet. Activating China Town 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 (such as Chinese opera, dragon boat races, special banquets, art exhibitions, film screenings and history tours) 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.

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. As well as being an important tourist destination and great place to eat, 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 strength and we must embrace international partnerships to forge a prosperous future.”


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