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A Good China-Australia Relationship Calls for Mutual Care from Both Sides
—by H.E. Consul General Duan Jielong

2012-07-05

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between China and Australia. In the past four decades, our relationship underwent an exceptional path amid twists and turns and made remarkable progress.

Our business cooperation is booming beyond even the boldest prediction of early years. Bilateral trade in goods has climbed up to over 100 billion US dollars, which grew by 1000 times in the past 40 years. China has been the largest trading partner, export market and import origin of Australia for many consecutive years, while Australia is the eighth largest trading partner of China. Our two-way investment is becoming increasingly vibrant. Australia is now one of the major overseas investment destinations for China. In the past five years, around 60 billion Australian dollars' investment from China has been approved by Australian government.

Our people-to-people and cultural exchanges are active, which form solid foundation for our cooperation in all fields. China is now the largest source of international students and the fastest growing source of foreign tourists for Australia. Every year, over one million people travel across the equator between our countries. According to statistics from Australian Tourism, by 2020 there will be over 800,000 Chinese tourists visiting Australia every year, bringing over 9 billion Australian dollars tourist revenue for Australia. From 2010-2012, China and Australia held cultural years for each other for the first time in history. A series of unique and marvelous cultural programs and performances brought great cultural and spiritual experience and enjoyment to our peoples and greatly enhanced the mutual understanding and friendship between us.

Our mutually beneficial cooperation covers a wide range of areas and brings real benefits to our peoples. According to the recently released Australia-China Business Council report "How China Trade benefits Australian Households", China is a major consumer of Australian exports and major provider of imports as well as a major investor that boosts the economic growth of Australia. Such 3-in-1 case is really rare in Australia's relations with other countries. In year 2010/11, China purchased commodities and service from Australia with a total value of over 70 billion Australia dollars, which accounted for one quarter of the Australia's export. Trade with China has brought 8,370 Australian dollars income for each Australian household. Meanwhile, Australia imported 43 billion Australian dollars goods from China. Those products, with its lower price and competitive quality, enriched life of Australian people and helped to keep inflation low. As is concluded in the report, from 2007 to 2011, while the price index in Australia grew by 3.2% annually, prices of telecommunication products imported from China decreased by 10% and that of textile by 0.6% per annum.

The history of China-Australia relationship has fully shown that our common interests are much greater than our divergence despite our different political system, values and development stages. As long as the two sides undertake cooperation on the principles of mutual respect and seeking common ground while shelving differences, our bilateral relations will grow rapidly. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, a person who is 40 will not be puzzled. China-Australia relationship will enter an age that should be beyond puzzlement. It is time that both sides should think about ways to move forward so as to bring real benefits to our peoples.

China undertakes a road of peaceful development. We endeavor to safeguard world peace and common development of all countries while developing ourselves through hard-work. China's development is based on mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries. It is peaceful and non-exclusive. There are no pending historic issues and no conflict of practical interests between China and Australia. We have different national realities and may see things from different perspectives, however, our common interests are much greater than our difference. China's development will open a broader space for China-Australia cooperation.

Some people describe 21st century as the Asia-Pacific Century. The Asia-Pacific Region needs open, equal, and mutually beneficial cooperation participated by countries of the region in a constructive way no matter it concerns security or economy. As important countries of this region, China and Australia share extensive common interests in maintaining regional stability and promoting regional cooperation and common development. China values its friendly cooperative relations with Australia and other countries, and does not wish to see those relations influenced by third party effects. Many visionary dignitaries in Australia also believe that Australia does not need to take side between countries. It will be shortsighted to assume that Australia should only grow business ties with China, as it will not effectively enhance the mutual trust and cooperation between our countries and peoples. As a matter of fact, the depth and future of China-Australia relations must and can only be built upon the increasingly consolidated strategic mutual trust between our two sides.

Investment by Chinese companies in Australia grew rapidly in recent years. They abide by local laws and regulations, and operate in a faithful, transparent and inclusive way. They actively fulfill their corporate responsibility, and made positive contribution to the local employment and taxation. To restrict Chinese companies or deprive them of opportunities to participation in Australian economy is hardly justifiable and comprehensible no matter judging by international business rules or measuring by the real demand of local people. The healthy and sustainable development of China-Australia business cooperation needs a fair, just and non-discriminative market environment.

Forty years ago, wise statesmen of our two countries commenced China-Australia relationship with exceptional courage and vision. They and their followers continued to cultivate and promote our bilateral relationship forward to an unprecedented level that we see today. As long as the two sides continue to view our relationship from a strategic height and long-term perspective, as long as we respect each other in an equal and mutually beneficial way, take core interests and major concerns of each other seriously, as long as we take care of the hard-won fruits of our ties elaborately, the next four decades of our bilateral relationship will definitely be more fabulous.

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