Prime Minister Kevin said Saturday that his mission was to make Australia "the most Asian-literate nation in the Western world", reported dpa
"The 21st century will be the Asia Pacific century ... so we need to make sure that in decades ahead we are fully engaged with the region," Rudd told a gathering in Adelaide. "It will be the global powerhouse and there are great opportunities if we engage properly and engage now."
The prime minister said more Australian students should study in other Asian countries to balance the 250,000 Asians currently studying in Australia.
"They become bridges through which we do business later on and this is a very important long-term investment," he said.
"One important aspect of this experience is exposure to different languages," Rudd, a fluent Mandarin-speaker, said.
"The benefits of Asian literacy are clear and many. I would argue if you speak the language, you understand the culture," he said. "It's about having the door open to begin with."