Speech at the National Day Reception by Mr. Song Yumin Chinese Consul- General to Melbourne
2014/09/26
 September 26, 2014, Melbourne

The Hon. Bruce Atkinson, President of Legislative Council, Representing Hon. Dr. Denis Napthine, Premier of Victoria,

The Hon. Robin Scott, Shadow Minister for Finance, Representing Hon. Daniel, Leader of the Opposition,  

The Hon. Christine Fyffe, Speaker of Legislative Assembly,

The Hon. Robert Clark, Attorney General,

The Hon. Ted Baillieu, Former Premier of Victoria,

My colleagues in consular corps,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you to this commemoration. It offers me an opportunity to brief you on figures and facts of China's development over last year and the progress of relations between China and Australia.

To start with, could I first pay my tribute to each and every friend in Victoria and Tasmania who makes enthusiastic efforts to our bilateral relations.

Over last years, Chinese Government vigorously pushed forward comprehensive reforms and structural innovation in speeding up the transformation of its economy. These policy measures yield positive results.

In the first half of this year, China's economy grew by 7.4 percent, with CPI at 2.3 percent. The unemployment rate in 31 large and medium-sized cities was around 5 percent. More than 9.7 million urban jobs were created, and about 6 million new businesses were registered, up 17 percent year on year. China remains one of the important engines of the world economy. 

In the past 14 months since I came to Melbourne last July, I saw steady progress in the relations between Victoria, Tasmania and China. This active sub-national cooperation is essential in substantiating the strategic partnership of the two countries.

In 2013, two-way trade between China and Victoria hit A$ 17.6 billion, accounting for 20 percent of Victoria's total trade volume with the world. Victoria's premium dairy products, red meat and juicy citrus, Tasmania's high-quality seafood, bee-honey and the extra-large cherries, are expanding market in China. Lavender-bears from Victoria and Tasmania became very popular almost over-night among young girls in China.

Robust trade stirs investment from China. As of the end of last year, there are 138 Chinese companies investing in Victoria, with a total investment volume of A$ 6.7 billion. With direct employment of some 7,000 staff, they create much more job opportunities in the state. So far this year, another 16 Chinese companies have injected A$ 342 million to Victoria. Along with investment, greater efforts have been made to engage the local community in terms of charity, involvement in aboriginal training programs, and sponsorship of sporting events, and so on.

Yet there lies huge potential and space for future cooperation in this field, given that China's share ranks 8th in Australia's FDI, and accounts for only 3 percent of the total volume.

This year saw active exchanges of visits at high level of the two states with China. In April, the Hon. Premier Denis Napthine of Victoria and the Hon. Premier Will Hodgman of Tasmania made a successful visit to China, besides being part of Prime Minister delegation. Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi came to Tasmania during his visit to Australia and met with the Hon. Premier Will Hodgman.

Currently, the Hon. Louise Asher, Minister for Innovation, for Tourism and Major Events, Employment and Trade, is in China, heading Victoria's third Super Trade mission. The previous two led by Hon. Ted Baillieu and Hon. Denis Napthine hailed great success. And I believe the current one will too.   

In this year, people to people exchanges between the two countries flourish in areas such as tourism, culture, sports and education.

China is now Australia's largest source of international students. There are about 50,000 Chinese students in Victoria. China is also the largest source of tourist revenue for Australia. Last year, 341,000 Chinese tourists visited Victoria. The number of Chinese tourists to Tasmania is on a sharp rise.

Some people and events highlighted the cultural and educational exchanges. With the support of Melbournians, Li Na won the laurel of Australian Open this year. She took Melbourne as her home court. In February, Mr. Tan dun, a noted Chinese composer and conductor, conducted the Chinese New Year Concert in collaboration with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), which was well received. In June, Mr. Garrillo Gantner, former President of Melbourne Festival, was granted the Cultural Exchange Contribution Award by Ministry of Culture of China, for his unremitting efforts and achievements in promoting cultural exchanges with China.

In 2013 and this year two contenders from Victoria won the first and second place respectively in the global Chinese Language Bridge Competition.

Today, there are over 40,000 students learning Chinese language in primary schools and secondary schools in Victoria and Tasmania. The 'Hammer Scholarship Program' and the 'New Colombo Plan' encourage more and more students to learn Chinese language.

With a population of 300,000, the Chinese community has become an integral part of, and a key contributor, to Victoria's multiculturalism.

In mid November, Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Australia following his attendance in G20 Summit in Brisbane. His visit is anticipated as a new milestone of China-Australia ties. I look forward to joining with you to embrace greater excitement in our relations.

To conclude my remarks, I would like to request you to charge and raise your glasses. Please let me propose a toast:

to the everlasting friendship between China and Australia

to the health and prosperity of everyone present.

Cheers!

 

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