TODAY I'm speaking in Sydney at a function to highlight China's print and digital media industries and the opportunities that exist for Australia. The keynote speaker is Wu Shulin, China's Vice-Minister, General Administration of Press and Publications.

As our minerals boom has continued, our trade with China has made us wealthy. This week we became the 12th largest economy. But how to keep it going?

Part of the answer is advertising. We are less than 0.4 per cent of the world's population but 5 per cent of the advertising market. We have the highest per head advertising spend in the world, even higher than America's.

Last century, America was the centre of the advertising industry, often with more than 50 per cent of world advertising. But our competitive society has bred some of the best advertising and marketing people in the world. It's an asset we must develop with two key dates in mind.

By 2020, China's gross domestic product will make it the world's biggest economy. By 2030, the Chinese advertising market will be bigger than America's, thanks to the middle class and its demand for goods and services.

So it is time to look at the opportunities for Australia - and we have to move quickly, we can't live on a minerals boom forever.

The 21st century belongs to Asia and we are part of it, but if we are to take the 12th biggest economy into the top 10 we have to develop some of our assets that can become bigger income generators than minerals.

Tourism Australia chairman Geoff Dixon is convinced the industry will outgrow the mining industry within 10 years, but are we doing enough right now to make this a reality?

The key is always creative people, and if we are clever we can become the centre of learning for advertising and media in Asia. Where people once went to New York to learn about advertising, within a decade they could be coming to Melbourne or Sydney.

To realise this we must open all our great teaching institutions to the young people of China. We must provide a much easier visa system, a real welcome mat from our government, as well as our people, and a clever post-degree industry placement scheme that encourages graduates to stay on in Australia and build business relationships.

We should respect our neighbours; after all we are talking about a civilisation that had the compass, gunpowder, paper and banknotes when our ancestors were in the Bronze Age.

It's a simple matter of public policy to create ongoing wealth beyond mining. We get a minerals boom every 25 years or so. A creativity, advertising, marketing boom can happen every year for the next 100 years.

Harold Mitchell is an executive director of Aegis.