China-Australia Cooperation in the New Era
2017/12/11

Keynote speech by Consul-General Zhao Jian

At the China-Australia Senior Business Leaders' Dialogue

On Belt and Road

Building on 45 Years of Cooperative Partnership

(1 December 2017)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Good morning!

It is a pleasure for me to join friends from the business communities to discuss the opportunities and prospects of China-Australia cooperation in the new era. As we will soon celebrate the 45th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic relations, it is very meaningful for us to hold this dialogue today. For that, I wish to thank the Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative and CCCA for making it possible.

China's relations with Australia have made remarkable progress in the past 45 years, and our practical cooperation has yielded fruitful results.

We have had regular exchange of visits at both the top and other levels. Our political mutual trust has deepened. And our trade and economic relations and people-to-people exchanges have become more dynamic.

China has been Australia's largest trading partner for eight consecutive years. Nearly 2 million people travel between the two countries each year, and 236 flights shuttle to and from each week. We have also established 103 sister province/state and sister city relationships, setting up an important bridge for bilateral exchanges.

Looking back over the development of our relations in the past 45 years, we can draw the following two important conclusions:

First, we need to transcend differences in national conditions and political system and stick to the right direction of friendly cooperation. To develop friendly relations between China and Australia serves the fundamental interests of our two peoples. So long as we treat each other with respect and sincerity, increase exchanges, cooperation and mutual trust, and properly handle differences, we will be able to maintain long-term and stable growth of our relations.

Second, the two governments need to maintain a forward-looking vision in planning and guiding the development of bilateral relations. When President Xi Jinping visited Australia in 2014, the two sides decided to upgrade bilateral relations to comprehensive strategic partnership, setting the direction for future development of China-Australia relationship. The coming into effect of the bilateral FTA has further unleashed the potential of our cooperation. On the state level, the Victorian government has rolled out a "China Strategy", a visionary move in advancing relations with China. In addition, the New Colombo Plan of the Commonwealth government and the Hamer Scholarship and Young Leaders Program of the Victorian government have all boosted the exchanges and mutual understanding between the Chinese and Australian peoples.

After forty-five years into diplomatic ties, China and Australia are now standing at a new starting point in their relationship.

China today is entering a new era in building a modern socialist country in all respects. Last October, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was successfully convened in Beijing, which drew a blueprint for China's development in the coming decades, with focus on building a better life for its people. It is envisaged that we will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, basically realize modernization by 2035, and then, by the mid of this century, turn China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.

China stays committed to the path of peaceful development and the win-win strategy of opening up, and is ready to work with the Australian people and people of other countries to build a community of shared future for mankind.

The new starting point in the new era means new opportunities for China-Australia relations.

Opportunities come with Chinese people's pursuit of a high-quality life. China has by and large achieved moderate prosperity. The Chinese people, wanting to lead a better life, have broader demands than ever. They have not only growing material and cultural needs, but also greater demands for rule of law, better security and environment and good health.

In this connection, some Australian industries can fit in very well. For example, Australia's export of wine, dairy, agricultural and health products to China has soared in recent years and it has become a popular destination for Chinese students and tourists. Victoria is a state of education and the cultural and sports capital of Australia, and Melbourne a city well known for technological innovation. The prospects of their cooperation with China are boundless.

Opportunities come with the deepening of comprehensive reform in China. China's economy has shifted from high-speed growth to high-quality growth. We will follow a new development vision and pursue supply-side reform as a main task to achieve better quality and efficiency of growth and foster new growth drivers. We will make China's economy more innovative and competitive and create more cooperation opportunities and development dividends for the world. The Chinese government will vigorously promote the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Economic Zone, Xiongan New Area and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, build world-class city clusters and foster new sources of growth.

Opportunities come with China's win-win strategy of opening up. China is committed to opening up and will adopt policies that promote high-standard trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. We will fully implement the pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list system, significantly ease market access, and further open the service sector.

We will implement the "Belt and Road" initiative as a priority, during which we will promote infrastructure and connectivity building on the basis of joint consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, strengthen coordination on economic policies and enhance complementarity of development strategies to promote new progress in China's all-round opening up and set up new platforms for international cooperation. This is an initiative that is put forward by China, but belongs to the world. It is rooted in history, but oriented toward the future. It focuses on the Asian, European and African continents, but is open to all partners.

Opportunities come with the expanding of the Chinese market and Chinese economy. Growing by an average annual rate of 7.2% and contributing to more than 30% of the global economic growth in the past four years, China has become a powerhouse of the world economy. In the next 15 years, it is expected to import USD 24 trillion worth of commodities, attract USD 2 trillion of FDI, and make USD 2 trillion of ODI. In November next year, the 1st China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai, which will provide another cooperation platform for exploring the Chinese market.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

The business communities have been the forerunners and a main driving force of China-Australia cooperation, playing an important role in promoting bilateral relations in the past 45 years. Standing at the starting point of a new journey, the business communities will undoubtedly make new contributions to bilateral cooperation.

When it comes to engaging with China, Victoria is leading Australia. Premier Andrews was the only Australian state leader who was invited by the Chinese government to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last May. This adds special significance to our dialogue here today in Melbourne.

The people's desire for a better life will drive our governments to work together in building an even brighter future for China-Australia relations. The new phases in China's modernization drive and the advancement of international cooperation on Belt and Road will surely open up a broader vista for business cooperation. I hope that friends from the business communities will seize the historical opportunity and expand our practical cooperation to mutual benefits. Let's work together for our common prosperity and development.

To conclude, I wish this dialogue a complete success!

Thank you.

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