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Statement by Consul-General Dong Zhihua at the 25th National Conference of the Chinese Language Teachers' Federation of Australia

(From Chinese Consulate General in Perth)


(12 July 2019, the UWA Business School, Perth )

Hon. Samantha Rowe MLC, Parliament Secretary to the Minister of Education and Training, representative of Hon. Sue Ellery MLC, Minister for Education and Training and Hon. Paul Papalia MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business, Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests,

Ms. Kim Ellwood, Executive Director, Office of Multicultural Interests, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries,
Mr. Geoff Davis AM, Founder and Life Member, Chinese Language Teachers' Federation of Australia(CLTFA),
Dr. Li Fuxin, National President of CLTFA ,
Mrs. Zhang Jieqi, President, Chinese Language Teachers' Association of Western Australia,
Distinguished members of CLTFA,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends,

It is my great pleasure to attend the 25th National Conference of the Chinese Language Teachers' Federation of Australia (CLTFA). As Chinese Consul General in Perth, I cordially welcome you all. To those who have traveled afar to Western Australia, I hope you figure out some time to enjoy the very unique beauty of Perth, which local people takes great pride in. Though I have been here merely two and a half months, Perth has already captured my heart as a shining pearl in the Indian Ocean, which is located in the most populous time zone in the world.

I must say that this Conference is very important and meaningful. China has long entrenched respect for teachers, and this tradition dates back to the era of Confucius more than 2000 years ago. Teaching is considered one of the best careers in China and Chinese government formally designated September 10 as Teachers' Day in 1985. Chinese Embassy and all the five Consulate Generals in Australia firmly support the work of the CLTFA. I am very happy to join you today to celebrate Chinese language teachers from every corner of Australia, and I would like to first of all share with you the congratulatory message from H.E. Ambassador Cheng Jingye.

Congratulations to the 25th Anniversary of the Chinese Language Teachers' Federation of Australia (CLTFA)! Over the years, the CLTFA has played praiseworthy roles in popularizing Chinese language teaching in Australian elementary and secondary education. I hereby forward great compliments to the Chinese language teachers in Australia for your unremitting efforts thus paid and the outstanding achievements thus attained.

Best wishes to the CLTFA and hopefully the Federation would make greater contributions to promote Chinese Language and culture in Australia and furthermore to strengthen the People-to-People exchange between China and Australia!

On behalf of Ambassador Cheng and Minister Counsellor Zong Wa, I would like to pay tribute to the CLTFA and its members. Thank you for the hard work and achievements you have made. You have been so dedicated to your students, to your schools, to your communities and to your country. Many of the CLTFA members devote their whole life to this glorious career. It's not only about Chinese Language teaching, it is about promoting mutual understanding and enhancing communication, about facilitating practical cooperation and fostering people-to-people linkages between China and Australia. We are very proud of you and your amazing work and we will always be your powerful and secure backing.

I would also like to thank the Australian federal and state governments for their strong support to Chinese language teaching. I am impressed by Prime Minister Morrison's congratulatory message to the CLTFA. He declared that "the emergence of China is one of the world's great economic miracles", and "the linkages (between Australia and China) can only be strengthened as students learn Chinese languages, history and culture". The remarks tone the vision and attitude of the new federal government on Chinese language teaching and release optimistic signals in the context of our bilateral relations.

State governments are very enthusiastic about Chinese language education. Here in WA, more than 50 primary and secondary schools teach Chinese as second language, which is a compulsory course for year 3 to year 8. The WA School Curriculum and Standards Authority has formulated curriculum for Chinese learning from Kindergarten all through to high schools. I have just met with Hon. Sue Ellery MLC, Minister for Education and Training this week and she is very supportive. WA state government is also one of the generous sponsors of this Conference. Special thanks to the Office of Multicultural Interests, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. I assume the other states are doing more or less the same.

Dear friends,

By setting the theme of this Conference as Mission Possible: Equipping global citizens with Chinese Language and Culture, the CLTFA has demonstrated its vision and mission in such a magnificent way. In a world that is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, we face both increasing opportunities and unprecedented challenges. The well-being of people in all countries has never been so closely intertwined as it is today. We need to have a sense of global citizenship and work together to build a community of shared future for mankind, as proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China. 40 years of reform and opening up has transformed China into the second largest economy in the world and a powerful engine of growth for global economy. We stand ready to build and strengthen partnerships with all countries and construct bridges for exchanges and mutual learning among different cultures. To deepen education cooperation is our main focus.

China's development presents a vast array of opportunities to Australia and the region. China stands for the future. China stands for opportunities. That's why more and more people are learning Chinese. More parents are sending their children to learn Chinese. Underpinned by the rising demand, the CLTFA will continue to flourish and have more profound influence in the future. Through Chinese language learning, people not only are equipped with a practical tool for communication and career development, but also are bestowed the golden key to understand Chinese history, culture and society. Therefore your work will not only change the life of many individuals, in the long run, it will change the way how Australia and the Australian people perceive China.

As you are about to engage in professional exchanges at this Conference, as an outsider, I would like to present three modest proposals for you to consider in achieving your mission possible.

First, be ambitious. Chinese is already the most spoken language in Australia aside from English. I hope that the CLTFA will continue to promote Chinese Language teaching in primary and secondary schools throughout Australia, and through your members in each and every school, mobilize more students and families to register for Chinese language learning. I am very proud that here in WA, we have a very active CLTFA affiliate association CLTAWA led by Jieqi Zhang and her wonderful committee team. Oberthur Primary school where Jieqi works teaches science, arts and maths to Australian students in Chinese. The visionary principal Mr. Tim Bamber is here with us today. We hope more and more schools will include Chinese teaching in their school curriculum learning and equip our young global citizens with this very useful language.

Second, be imaginative. In addition to classroom teaching, organize all kinds of activities and events to arouse interests of students in Chinese culture. Assemble student choirs, organize martial arts and other cultural experience programs. Establish partnerships with schools in China and promote student exchanges in the form of summer camps etc. These activities will help enhance and complement your efforts in the classroom and have spillover effects. In this regard, I am happy to inform you that the Chinese Consulate-General in Perth will open house and host a Chinese Language Student Awards 2019 issued by the Australia China Friendship Society WA branch. I encourage you to approach my colleagues in your states to do the same.

Third, be adventurous. Go to China! I am surprised that many of you have not been to China yet. Language is living and evolving. Teaching Chinese is not only about the beauty of the language itself. Chinese language not only reflects the history and culture, but also is a vehicle that brings people closer. By gathering first-hand experiences in China, you will understand China more comprehensively and tell better stories of a real contemporary China to your students.

Dear CLTFA members,

You are the cultural ambassadors between China and Australia. The Chinese Embassy and Consulate Generals stand ready as always to support CLTFA and all its members in your endeavor. It is the firm belief of myself and all my colleagues that your work will make a difference on the future of our bilateral relations and our people. We shall always remember Mr. Geoff Davis AM, the founder and first president of CLTFA, for his remarkable leadership and contribution. We will remember all of you, whom I am not able to name one by one, who have jointly contributed to Chinese language teaching in Australia and contributed to our bilateral friendship. You are true friends of China, whom we shall always remember and cherish.

I wish the 25th CLTFA National Conference a very successful conference, and also a very special and memorable conference. Enjoy your time in Perth and WA!

Thank you!

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