GETI's November 2014 Newsletter
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November's newsletter is a special feature outlining the landmark visit of Chinese President Xi and his wife, Madame Peng, to Hobart, Tasmania.

President Xi's Landmark Visit to Hobart, Tasmania

On Tuesday the 19th November Tasmania was honoured to host President Xi Jinping on his inaugural visit to Hobart, accompanied by his wife Madame Peng. The visit saw the President complete a whirlwind of engagements during a seven-hour period.  

After stepping off the plane just after 11am, the President spoke to students and other guests waiting to greet him and Madame Peng at Hobart Airport. Among those welcoming the President were students from Tasmanian Government Primary Schools, Waimea Heights and Albuera Street. Madame Peng warmly embraced the school students who presented the pair with a Tasmanian-made Bobbie lavender bear from the world-renowned Bridestowe Lavender Farm
The President and Madame Peng then travelled to Hobart’s Government House, where they were joined by Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott for an official luncheon. At Government House the presidential couple signed a visitor's book and met the family of late Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon, who first met President Xi in China more than 20 years ago. In recognition of their close relationship, in 2001 Xi Jinping granted Premier Bacon an honorary citizenship of Fujian Province.

Whilst at Government House, the President also planted a Yulan Magnolia Tree, and met six-month old Tasmanian Devils Bella, Possum and Lulu. Madame Peng cradled one of the infant devils. Wildlife advocate Greg Irons, of Tasmania’s Bonorong Park, hopes that the President’s time with the Tasmanian Devils will raise the profile of the efforts being made to save the species from a deadly disease (for more information, see the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program at
Following lunch, the delegation made their way to visit the Chinese Antarctic icebreaker, Xue Long, which was decorated with red bunting and flags, and anchored in Hobart to coincide with the President’s visit.

President Xi and Prime Minister Abbott inspected ice core samples and spoke via live stream to scientists at China’s Zhongshan Station and Australia’s Davis Station in Antarctica. The Chinese researchers based at Zhongshan told their leader it was stormy and cold where they were but they felt the warmth of his touch.

Following the tour of the ship, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in the presence of President Xi and Prime Minister Abbott to promote collaboration and ongoing cooperation between China and Australia in scientific research and Antarctic affairs. The agreement will include a commitment to use Tasmania as a gateway to Antarctica. President Xi said cooperation in the Antarctic was "a bright spot" in the Chinese Australian relationship.
The Presidential visit concluded with a visit to the top of Mount Wellington, where the President and Madame Peng enjoyed the panoramic view of Hobart and Southern Tasmania before their drive back to Hobart Airport for their departure.

Tasmania’s Premier Will Hodgman signed four agreements with China in Canberra on Monday, before the President’s visit, to increase Tasmania's links with the China Development Bank Cooperation and Fujian and Shaanxi provinces, and support the development of a wind farm.

Why Tasmania?


Tasmania has a longstanding connection with China’s Fujian Province, beginning in 1980 when Tasmania formed a sister-state relationship with the province.
  • Tasmania’s link with Fujian Province began when Labor premier Doug Lowe visited China in 1980 and signed sister-state relationship
  • Governor of Fujian, Ma Xingyuan, visited Tasmania in 1981
  • Former Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon made several trips to China and Fujian Province over 20 years
  • Mr Bacon was given an honorary citizenship of Fujian Province by then Governor Xi Jinping in 2001
  • Former Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings officially invited President Xi to visit Tasmania in 2013
  • Premier Will Hodgman repeated the invitation during a visit in April 2014
  • China is Tasmania’s biggest source of international students.
  • China is the main source of international visitors to Tasmania, with a record 24,000 Chinese tourists visiting Tasmania in the 12 months to June 2014.
  • China is Tasmania's largest trading partner, with Tasmanian exports to China worth $610 million a year.

The Honour of President Xi's Visit


Tasmanians were very enthusiastic, and honoured, to have the Chinese President visit Hobart. Groups of schoolchildren and hundreds of Chinese Tasmanians were organised to greet the President.

President Xi’s photo was splashed across the front page of Hobart’s local newspaper, the Mercury, accompanied by a welcome message in Mandarin and English
The Chinese government vetted about 400 Chinese Tasmanian locals, who lined the Tasman Highway to catch a glimpse of the Presidential cavalcade driving by. Some of the people in attendance were Chinese tourists, some were university students, and some were local Chinese families, hoping to give their children the chance to see the President and Madame Peng. Ji Jiang and wife Donna Sun, from Hobart, joined the crowd with their children Nilun and Tovi. They commented that seeing the President and Madame Peng was a precious opportunity. “We love it here and he will love it as well,” noted Donna.

Bobbie the Bear

President Xi and Madame Peng were presented with a unique gift upon their arrival at Hobart Airport. They were given an iconic purple bear, known as Bobbie the Lavender Bear, from Northern-Tasmania’s Bridestowe Estate.

The Bobbie Bears are made by hand at Bridestowe Estate, a 263 acre lavender farm. The stuffing of the fluffy toy is made with Tasmanian Lavender, and it can be microwaved to become a heat pack to ease aching bones. 

The bear debuted in 2011, but didn’t become a craze until he was endorsed on Chinese social media by Zhang Xinyu, Sun Li, and Fan Bingbing. Zhang Xinyu posted pictures of herself with the bear, writing that Bobbie made a great bedtime companion. More than 70,000 of the bears have now been purchased from Bridestowe Estate, with the majority being bought by Chinese tourists.


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