Chinese President Xi Jinping is taking a personal interest in Scotch Oakburn College and the students who invited him to visit Tasmania three years ago.
That is according to reporter Dan Song, from the Xinhua News Agency’s Sydney bureau, who was back at the College this week as part of a visit from a Chinese television crew of five.
In 2014, students from a Scotch Oakburn Year 5 class invited the President to visit the state.
In an address to the Australian parliament in November 2014, the President revealed that the letters had filled him with curiosity about Tasmania.
The students were the special guests when the President and Madam Peng Liyuan visited Hobart.
The following year, the students travelled to China, again met Madam Peng and visited the prestigious Beijing Jingshan School, now a sister school to Scotch Oakburn.
Reporter Dan Song and her crew were back in Tasmania this week to revisit the students who wrote those letters and to see how they were progressing with their Chinese lessons.
“I am interested in following up on the visit of President Xi’s visit to Hobart,” she said, on a sunny autumn day at the Senior School campus.
“That was the first time I met the children who wrote those beautiful letters.
“Tasmania, especially the students from Scotch Oakburn, were the highlight of President Xi’s visit. He is always asking what is happening at the school and also with the sister-school relationship.”
“This will always be a super sweet spot for President Xi and his wife.”
Dan Song said Scotch Oakburn was a beautiful school filled with smiling, free-spirited students who loved to learn.
“You know they enjoy every minute, and are studying happily,” she said.
“We want to pursue this in China – for the children to grow up more happily.
“I feel proud to witness all this.”
A further boost in the number of Chinese tourists visiting the state would likely follow the airing of the film crew’s report. Chinese visitor numbers to the state rose by 60 per cent in the wake of the President’s visit, but had since plateaued, according to state government tourism figures.
“In the first letters, the students recommended places for the President to visit,” Dan Song said.
“We are here as the President’s eyes and ears, to show the Chinese people how wonderful this place is.
“And we expect to encourage more visits, not just between students but also between the wider population, to boost the local tourism through goodwill.”