It is with great pleasure that I welcome our friends from Chongqing to Sydney as we celebrate Chinese New Year with the biggest Lunar New Year celebrations held outside of Asia.
This is the 14th year that the City of Sydney has sponsored this increasingly popular celebration. For the last five years, it has featured a contingent from China - this year, with 400 outstanding artists coming from Chongqing Municipality.
These are some of the largest Chinese delegations to travel outside China since the economic reforms of the Open China Policy.
From its earliest years, Sydney has had Chinese settlers and significant trade with China. Today, however, the heightened awareness and interest signal China's growing importance in the global economy, and its growing presence in the global consciousness.
Here in Sydney, people of Chinese ancestry make up about six per cent of the metropolitan population and nearly 10 per cent of the City's population. Chinese is now the most common language spoken at home after English and China's trade with the Sydney metropolitan area is estimated at around $A10 billion a year.
Sydney is the entry point to the Australian economy for the most important international businesses and we are in turn Australia's gateway to the world.
Similarly, Chongqing has become China's Gateway to the West, under the China Western Development strategy. Therefore we can offer each other significant economic opportunities.
We also have the opportunity to work together on what are increasingly issues of global concern - most notably, on climate change and global warming.
We also have the opportunity to develop closer ties and real friendships through meetings such as these.
I hope you will enjoy your time in Sydney and that we will meet again.