An Australian official spoke with China.org.cn at the sideline of the 2015 Beijing International Forum on People-to-People Friendship in Beijing on Thursday, saying that she believed history and culture should be preserved as a city's unique character.
"History and culture are vital to a city, even though you are trying to develop economic progress," said Amy Chan, Property Leasing and Asset Strategy Manager at the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources of the Victoria state government in Australia, "Preserving history and continuity is absolutely important for the unique character of city, that's something that defines it."
She continued, "It's a big challenge in China, Australia and everywhere else. As the world progresses and globalizes, everything becomes the same, uniform. So, we should become more aware of why history and culture are such important factors in a city's development."
In terms of how China and Australia should learn from each other, she said, "Australia is a much younger country, compared to Europe and China. We have very different issues - planning issues, population issues, and land issues. Because we are a young country, we started much earlier, so we have more necessary planning in that area. We are preserving more and more despite our modest history. In China, I suppose there was greater turmoil, such as war, revolution, and modernization, so it's very difficult to compare."
Chan added, "The big lesson is to look at the future and what you want to achieve now."
Outside her job working for the government, she is also a volunteer at the Australia-China Friendship Society, "This organization has been trying to connect the peoples of the two countries in all areas."
As for more Chinese heading to Australia for travel and work, she said there are many Chinese societies and NGOs having been established in Chinese communities. However, in recent years, news stories, like Chinese people buying all the milk powder leaving Australian mothers angry, keep on emerging.
"That's part of our purpose at the friendship society, and at other NGOs. We aim to promote different perspectives," she said, "there are many perspectives for the same thing. There are Chinese students, tourists and migrants. The government welcomes Chinese, but some local people may felt threatened, and worry about job security as there are migrants from China, India and everywhere. Organizations such as ours are trying to promote different perspectives and mutual understanding."