ACT News

Chinese ambassador Ma Zhaoxu hails Lennox Gardens a 'miracle'

When it comes to delivering projects on time, the ACT government could learn a thing or two from its counterparts in Beijing if the speed of work to create the new Chinese garden at Lennox Gardens is anything to go by.

Chinese ambassador Ma Zhaoxu and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher opened the Canberra Beijing Garden on Thursday in time for China's president Xi Jinping's Canberra visit on November 17.

And the ambassador hailed the feat a "miracle".

Ms Gallagher admitted she had "a little bit of scepticism" when Mr Ma told her the garden would be finished in five months.

"I think it's a real lesson to us and some of our processes to see how quickly and efficiently the Chinese government works to make sure what they promise is delivered," she said.

The Beijing municipal government sent Chinese artisans to create the garden including a marble and timber grand pavilion and entrance gate, sculptures, paths, rock garden and landscaping as a gift – coinciding with the 14th anniversary of the sister city agreement.

Mr Ma said that when he told Ms Gallagher the garden would be finished by the end of the year in time for the president's visit she had some "hesitation" about the five-month timeframe.

"That's a very easy thing to do in China, but not so easy here in Canberra," he said.

"Both of us knew this was almost mission impossible, but now we've made it, we've made a miracle thanks to our joint efforts."

Mr Ma said the garden rivalled others around the world with its "perfect" blend of Chinese cultural elements and the Australian natural environment.

"I take it as a symbol of friendship and understanding between the two peoples," he said.

"Canberra is a very important partner of Beijing… the chief minister has visited Beijing and other cities so I think there is big potential for co-operative ventures between the ACT and other cities in China."

Ms Gallagher said the garden was initially planned for Mr Xi to open, but his schedule didn't allow for it. 

Although she won't be involved in the president's visit she said it was an ideal opportunity to showcase Canberra.

"It brings enormous benefits to Canberra, we know when we had the Beijing torch relay the images of Canberra projected all around the world particularly to China were very powerful and I have no doubt his visit will bring that sort of attention to Canberra again," she said.

"The Chinese have been very well aware of Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland markets but increasingly they are aware of other opportunities, so there's no lack of interest from investors from China in Canberra.

"But I think having the honour and prestige of a presidential visit will be very good for us in the coverage it gets and the ability for us to use it to leverage future opportunities."