Declaring that Asia's rise is "unstoppable", Australia on Sunday unveiled an ambitious plan aimed at forging deeper links with India and other booming economies of the region, including through teaching languages like Hindi and Mandarin in its schools.
"While Australia was changing — Asia was changing too. Whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia's return to global leadership, Asia's rise," said Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was recently on her maiden official visit to India.
"This (Asia's rise) is not only unstoppable, it is gathering pace," Gillard said, releasing a sweeping policy blueprint entitled 'Asian Century White Paper' aimed at maximising links with Asia which will power Australia into the world's top 10 wealthiest nations by 2025.
Above all, success for an open Australia in a middle-class Asia starts in the classrooms, training centres and lecture theatres of this nation, the Prime Minister said.
All Australian schools will engage with at least one school in Asia to support the teaching of a priority Asian language — Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese, she said.