By Tiffany Hoy, Fu Yunwei
SYDNEY, Oct. 6 (Xinhua)-- After meeting with Chinese students here on Friday, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Australia and China should encourage more student exchanges, saying that this could serve as a cultural bridge between the two nations. "The truth is international relations hinge on people. The more people get to know each other and work with each other, the more we realize that we're all human beings and cultural differences are actually reasonably small and quite manageable," Rudd told Xinhua.
Last year, over 60,000 Chinese undergraduate students enrolled in Australian universities, and Rudd said he would like to see the numbers rise. "We've now got I think 120,000 Chinese students in Australia-- that's terrific. I believe that with China's major universities we will do more in the future,"Rudd said during Friday's Chinese- Australian cultural festival held at Macquarie University.
At the festival, Rudd was joined by Wang Xiaojia, educational consul of China in Sydney.
Wang hailed the festival as a perfect platform for the youths from China to obtain a better understanding of the Australian culture and traditions.
He added that the younger generation has every reason to expect a more harmonious relationship between China and Australia in the future.
He cited the unprecedented rise in the number of participants in the exchange program among students from both countries which, in turn, has significantly strengthened the ties between Canberra and Beijing.
The event was organized by Macquarie's Chinese Students and Scholars Association (MCSSA) to raise awareness of the diversity and rich culture of China and for Australians to better understand and appreciate it.
Councilor Robert Kok, former deputy mayor of Sydney, praised the celebration for its focus on cultural awareness."This has become more and more important in the last few years, especially now that we have what is billed as 'The Asian Century', and therefore cultural exchanges are very important, to be able to understand each other," he said.
Deirdre Anderson, deputy vice-chancellor of the university, said she hoped the festival would help form a stronger sense of community, "one that's accepting and respectful of our different cultures."
The students also appreciated the importance of the relations between the two countries. "We are in an era of globalization.. China is an emerging economy and a power of the future, so I think it's important for Australia to get closer to Asia and China," said Kun Huang, vice president of MCSSA, who helped organize the event. "At the university level, I think it's important for diverse students to come together to share their knowledge and enhance the university community," said Huang.