Strengthening Win-Win Cooperation for More Promising Bilateral Relations

-   Speech at Australia-China Business Week 2012 Luncheon

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of China-Australia Diplomatic Relations

(Consul-General Shi Weiqiang, 31 May 2012)


The Hon. Ted Baillieu, Premier of Victoria State,

The Hon. Ken Smith, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly,

Mr. Patrick Stringer, Commissioner to Greater China, Victorian Government,

Mr. John Rashleigh, Chairman of Australia Business Forum,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


This year marks the 40th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic relations. It is my great pleasure to join you here to celebrate this great event. First of all, on behalf of Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne, I wish to extend my warm congratulations on the opening of Australia-China Business Week 2012, and pay my tribute to all the people who have contributed their part to the development of bilateral relations over the past 40 years.

In 1972, the leaders of our two countries opened the long-sealed door between us and built a bridge of mutual understanding and cooperation. Over the past 40 years, thanks to our joint efforts, China-Australia relations have seen steady and healthy development. Not only have we increased mutual understanding and mutual benefits, but also greatly strengthened cooperation in economy & trade, science &technology, education & culture

First and foremost, our political ties are further strengthened with frequent exchanges of high-level visits. In April 2011, the Hon. Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited China and attended the 2nd Australia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum. The Hon. Jia Qinglin, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) paid an official visit to Australia. Last year, the 3rd China-Australia strategic dialogue was held in Beijing and the inaugural Australia-China Forum was launched in Canberra. Our political relations have maintained a sound momentum of development.

Secondly, our economies are becoming more interdependent. The economic integration between us has never been so prominent. China is Australia's largest trading partner. Chinese market accounts for one-fourth of Australia's total exports, while 10 years ago it was only 5 percent. As for Bilateral trade, the volume was only 113 million Australian dollars four decades ago; now the figure hit a record high of 113 billion Australian dollars in 2011.

Moreover, two-way investment keeps growing vigorously. According to Chinese Commerce, by the end of 2011, Australia's actual investment in China was about 7 billion US dollars, ranging widely from energy, minerals, manufacturing to finance and other sectors. According to Australian Treasury, in the financial year of 2011, China ranked the third among foreign investors in Australia in terms of annually approved value. Nevertheless the total stock of Chinese investment in Australia is still relatively small. With a share of less than one percent, it is far from matching China's status as Australia's largest trading partner.   

Thirdly, the cultural, educational and people-to-people exchanges between our two countries have yielded fruitful results. To promote mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples, our two governments jointly initiated 'Year of Australian Culture in China' and 'Year of Chinese Culture in Australia'. In 2011, there were over one million mutual visits. Back to 1972, it was fewer than 1000. Currently, China is Australia's fastest growing market of overseas tourists and largest source of overseas students. By the end of 2011, China had set up 12 Confucius institutes in Australia, and 81 Sister-City or State partnership in Australia. There is no doubt that a blossoming relationship between China and Australia has brought tangible benefits to our two peoples, and served the fundamental interests of our two countries.

Looking forward to the next 40 years, we may envision a more mature and cooperative relationship between China and Australia. With a fragile global economy and turbulent international politics, we are facing another critical and historic choice like 40 years ago: What is the prospect of China-Australia relations in the years ahead? What should be done to ensure a thriving development of such relationship into the future?

It is hard to make predictions, particularly about the future. Mr. Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Management, once said 'The best way to predict your future is to create it'. A Chinese saying goes, 'Take history as a mirror and look forward to the future'. In my view, the useful experiences and lessons we have learnt in the past 40 years may give us some key clues to the above questions.

First of all, we need to strengthen mutual trusts. In the past 40 years, we have learnt a profound truth: the foundation of a stable relationship lies with mutual trusts; mutual benefits come only with mutual respects and mutual trusts. The greater the mutual trusts are, the broader the scope of cooperation goes. So long as we view each other positively, treat each other as partners rather than rivals, as opportunities rather than challenges, our cooperation will continue to thrive, our relationship will continue to grow.

Secondly, we need to expand areas of cooperation.  Our two economies are strongly complementary in nature. China is the most populous country with huge market potentials. Australia boasts abundant resources and advanced technologies. We should pursue further cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, infrastructure and tourism. China is undergoing unprecedented process of industrialization, urbanization and modernization, providing huge business opportunities for other countries including Australia. How to grasp these opportunities? How to achieve common prosperity? Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan had already answered these questions at ACBC Breakfast last March in Melbourne: Australia should grasp the chances by being on the right side of the history, just as it did 40 years ago.

Thirdly, we need to enhance people-to-people contacts. The key to sound relationship lies in the affinity between our two peoples. We should work for closer exchanges between our two peoples, particularly the youth, to enhance their sense of togetherness, mutual understanding and friendship. China warmly welcomes more Australians to study in China and participate in "Chinese Bridge Competition". This year, Victoria State launched the Hamer Scholarship Program, encouraging more Victorians to study Chinese in Jiangsu, China. I once again commend the Victorian government for its efforts to deepen bonds between our two peoples. I believe these efforts will definitely turn opportunities into more tangible benefits. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking back at the past years and looking forward to the future, I am convinced a sound and stable relationship between China and Australia serves the fundamental interests of our two countries. Confucius, the greatest Chinese philosopher once said: At the age of 40, one will become more sophisticated hence no longer confused. With abundant experiences gained in the past 40 years, I believe we have enough wisdom to get over any confusion, make the right choice of the history, and join hands to work for a more promising bilateral relationship.

Thank you.
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