Garden symbolises city's link with China

The Chinese consul-general to Christchurch, Tan Xiutian, enjoys a visit to Dunedin's Chinese...
The Chinese consul-general to Christchurch, Tan Xiutian, enjoys a visit to Dunedin's Chinese Garden before leaving her posting and returning to China. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Dunedin's Chinese Garden gives the city a special advantage in its relationship with China.

That comment was made yesterday by Tan Xiutian, the first consul-general to serve at the recently-established Chinese consulate in Christchurch.

Ms Tan had made a familiarisation trip to Dunedin and the Chinese Garden in February 2012.

And some of the city's Chinese community representatives commented at that stage the consulate in Christchurch would significantly strengthen Dunedin's growing trade and tourism links with China.

Ms Tan, who will leave her Christchurch posting to return to China, yesterday emphasised the continuing value of the Dunedin Chinese Garden.

She acknowledged that Christchurch had its own sister city links with China and also had important historical connections through Christchurch-educated writer and long-term Chinese resident Rewi Alley.

But the Dunedin Chinese Garden was an important physical manifestation and symbol of links between Dunedin and China, and that was something other South Island centres, including Christchurch, did not have, she said.

She reflected also on the long-established links between Dunedin and China, given that Dunedin was home to the oldest Chinese urban settlement in New Zealand.

Dunedin's sister city relationship with Shanghai remained important and strong and she predicted continuing growth in Chinese tourist arrivals to Dunedin.

Ms Tan, who also served as Chinese consul-general in Edinburgh for five years before taking up her Christchurch post in 2011, acknowledged Dunedin was known as the Edinburgh of the South.

Dunedin was a beautiful city and its Scottish culture was a further attractive feature for Chinese visitors, she said.

Malcolm Wong, who chairs the Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust and the Dunedin Shanghai Association, and Toitu Otago Early Settlers Museum acting director Jennifer Evans accompanied Ms Tan during her visit to the garden yesterday.

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