(6pm 8 August 2012, Level 4, 120 Clarence St Sydney)
Thank you, Henry He, the regional General Manager. Good evening, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nationalities who live in our city.
- the Premier of NSW, the Hon Barry O'Farrell
- Mr Tan Wangeng, president and chief executive, China Southern Airlines Company
- Mr He Zong Kai, executive vice president, and
- Mr Duan Jie Long, Consul-General for the People's Republic of China.
China Southern Airlines has been operating from Sydney for a decade. Now this new regional office confirms its continuing role in bridging our two countries, linking Australia's leading city with the great cities of China.
Historically, Sydney has had long connections with China, and today, people of Chinese ancestry make up about six per cent of the population of metropolitan Sydney and nearly 10 per cent of the City's population. Indeed, over half of all Australians born in China actually live in Sydney.
Chinese is now the most common language spoken at home after English, and China's trade with the Sydney metro area is estimated at around $A10 billion a year. Already, over 60 per cent of Chinese business visitors to Australia come to Sydney.
This is reflected in the growing size and popularity of our annual Chinese New Year celebrations, which the City organises in partnership with our Chinese community.
In recent years, the parade has hosted large contingents from China itself, and it is now the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside Asia - a fitting counterpart to our famous December New Year's Eve on the harbour.
Since 2008, we have been holding a Business Forum, bringing together government and business representatives from Sydney and the city or province nominated by the Chinese Government. The forum helps foster economic development, and to suggest opportunities for trade and investment. It also helps build strong, lasting relations between Sydney and key cities and provinces in China.
Sydney's position as Australia's gateway for global business, our relative proximity and similar time zones help strengthen our economic ties.
We are strategically placed to link the world's fastest growing economy with South Asia and the Pacific - an advantage that has been recognised by the growing number of Chinese financial institutions which base their regional headquarters in Sydney.
Sydney is Australia's centre of finance and business services, and there are also opportunities in education, banking, financial management, architecture and design, green technology, urban planning, water and air quality and waste management.
In an increasingly globalised world, and with China now Australia's largest trading partner, these relationships are vital. I hope the opening of this office is a further symbol of the growing ties between Sydney and China and points to a fruitful and prosperous relationship.