THERE is great potential for Bendigo to strengthen its links with China and promote tourism, says Koby Wong.
Mr Wong is the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Melbourne vice consul-general and was in Bendigo on Saturday for the Chinese Spring Festival and Awakening of the Dragon.
"I like it here very much," Mr Wong said.
"It's not only a beautiful city but it's also a multicultural city.
"It gives me confidence in development of bilateral relationships between China and Australia when I watch wonderful performances by so many lovely children with Chinese music and dances."
Mr Wong said it was wonderful to see so many dragons.
"I have never seen so many dragons in China let alone somewhere in Australia," he said.
"Having the oldest dragon and the longest dragon in Bendigo is very special.
"It gives me a deep impression of Bendigo.
"I must say thanks to the Bendigo people, the Bendigo city provides a good environment for multiculturalism.
"There is great potential for stronger relations between Bendigo and China with more and more Chinese tourists coming here."
Golden Dragon Museum education officer Tan See Tuang said many young Chinese professionals were moving to Bendigo to escape "the rat race".
"Chinese traditionally love to live in big cities where there are a lot of people but now they've become a little bit Aussie they want the beautiful country air," Mr Tan said.
"So I'd appeal to those people to come down and see the Golden Dragon Museum and join the association and if they want to learn Chinese they can come to my school.
"When we're talking about the Chinese community we're talking about people who look Chinese like me and there would be probably close to 1000 in Bendigo.
"But then you also have people who have a drop of Chinese blood in them, then you're looking at a few thousand.
"Many of them have blonde hair and blue eyes.
"That is multicultural Australia. Bendigo is an example of that."