(Image: ABC)

In the space of two months, the growing importance of the Chinese community in Australia's electoral politics has been emphasised by two election campaigns, one state and one federal.

The federal campaign has thus far seen: a candidates' debate, for the first time, conducted in Mandarin; a related flare-up over a Liberal candidate's efforts to court social conservative sentiment within the community; a faux pas from a prime minister who had felt it worth his while to commit the Mandarin word for "hello" to memory; and, earlier this week, Kevin Rudd's first constructive service to the ALP in many a long year, when he put his language skills to use in a street walk through Hurstville in Sydney.