Review the Past, Look into the Future, Open a New Chapter for China-Australia Relationship
Speech at the National Conference of Australia China Friendship Society by Ambassador Xiao Qian
11 June 2022
Madam Robin Matthews, National President of the Australia China Friendship Society,
Honourable Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia,
Mr Lin Songtian, President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries,
Members of the Australia China Friendship Society,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
It’s my great pleasure to attend the National Conference of the Australia China Friendship Society (ACFS). To all of you present today, and to all friends who have long been committed to China-Australia friendship, I would like to express my appreciation and sincere thanks.
For more than 70 years in the past, ACFS has been playing an important role in promoting mutual understanding between the people of our two countries and in enhancing the friendly cooperation between our two countries. I would like to express my appreciation and sincere thanks.
Under the strong leadership of Premier McGowan, West Australia has achieved outstanding progress in its economic and social development and has made great contribution to the economic prosperity of the Commonwealth of Australia. WA has been the major driving force in, and great contributor to the substantial cooperation between China and Australia. I would like to express my appreciation and sincere thanks.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia. Looking back, China-Australia relations is a successful story of friendly cooperation. Mutual benefit has been its overarching theme.
Over the past 50 years, our two countries respected each other, sought common ground while shelving and resolving differences, enhanced mutual understanding and mutual trust. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Australia in 2014, our relationship has been upgraded to comprehensive strategic partnership, setting a milestone in China-Australia relations.
Over the past 50 years, our two countries have complemented each other’s strengths in practical cooperation. In 2021, the trade in goods between China and Australia reached 265.88 billion AUD, more than 1,350 times that of 1972. Since 2009, China has been Australia’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. Our practical cooperation has not only given a strong boost to China’s reform and opening-up as well as economic and social development, but also brought prosperity to Australia’s mining, agriculture, education, tourism among others, and played an indispensable role for Australia to weather through several global or regional economic and financial crises. The ore and energy trade between China and WA is an exemplary model of win-win cooperation. China is WA’s largest export market for iron ore, the second largest export market for oil and gas, and the third largest export market for gold products. The relevant trade not only supports industrial development in China, but also brings considerable trade surplus, fiscal revenue and job opportunities to WA and the entire Commonwealth.
Over the past 50 years, China and Australia have strengthened cultural and people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning. We have established over 100 pairs of sister provinces/states and cities. Prior to COVID-19, there were nearly 200 direct flights between China and Australia every week, carrying some 2 million passengers across the equator every year. China has long been Australia’s largest market of overseas tourists and top origin of international students. There are now 1.2 million overseas Chinese and Chinese Australians in this country, making important contributions to Australia’s economic and social development as well as multiculturalism.
Over the past 50 years, China and Australia have maintained close communication and coordination, and supported each other in regional and international affairs. Our two countries have cooperated closely under the frameworks of the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, APEC and G20, and in international organizations such as the United Nations. We have strengthened communication and coordination on regional economic integration, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, combating cross-border crimes, disaster prevention and relief, poverty reduction and relevant regional hotspot issues, which has maintained and promoted peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.
In short, during the past five decades, China has always been looking at China-Australia relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, and committed to friendly exchanges and cooperation with Australia in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This policy remains unchanged.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Today’s world is witnessing great transformations unseen in a century. The international political and economic landscape is undergoing profound and complex changes. The China-Australia relationship is at a new juncture, facing many opportunities.
Opportunity of jointly promoting economic growth. China has an enormous market, capabilities in research and development, innovation and manufacturing. It has formed a new normal of medium-to-high-speed economic growth, with its quality and efficiency constantly improving. Australia is a world leader in agriculture, energy and mining industries, and has first-mover advantages in financial, technological and other sectors. We can continue to deepen traditional cooperation, and at the same time explore emerging cooperation in green technology, new energy, healthcare, digital economy, creative industries etc.
Opportunity of jointly promoting transitioning of growth models. China is comprehensively deepening reforms, advocating the new concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. To address climate change, China announced to increase its nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and strive to achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. Australia’s new administration is committed to fostering a diversified and sustainable growth pattern, and has set a target of reducing emissions by 43% by 2030. China and Australia can align green development strategies and establish a closer cooperative relationship of mutual benefit.
Opportunity of jointly promoting diversity and inclusiveness. Australia has long been committed to building a diverse and inclusive society. People from different parts of the world come to Australia to study, work and live, and they become members of Australia Family. Diversity and inclusiveness are also important to state-to-state relations. China and Australia are different in many aspects, but we could and should coexist in harmony. It’s important to respect the diversity of civilizations, respect a country’s choice of development path in accordance with its own national conditions, and make exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations a powerful bond for maintaining world peace and promoting common development.
Opportunity of jointly promoting international governance. Both China and Australia are committed to addressing the major global issues. As open economies, our two countries have broad consensus on reforming the international financial system, advancing global trade negotiations, and promoting regional trade liberalization and integration. China attaches great importance to Australia’s traditional ties in the Pacific islands, and is willing to maintain communication with Australia, engage in active discussions on how to better support the sustainable development of island countries and on trilateral cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
The healthy and stable development of China-Australia relations is in line with the fundamental interests and shared aspirations of our two peoples, and conducive to peace, stability, development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. So long as both sides stick to the right direction of our relationship, uphold the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, strengthen dialogue and communication, properly handle differences, China-Australia relations will surely embrace an even brighter future.
The friendship between our two peoples lays the foundation for the relations between our two countries. I strongly believe that the ACFS will build on past achievements and make further contribution to China-Australia friendship and cooperation. I strongly believe that WA will continue to play the role of pacesetter and promote cooperation between our two countries. My Embassy and the Chinese Consulates-General in Australia stand ready to work with the Australian federal government, state governments and friends from all walks of life to move forward China Australia relationship along the right track to the benefits of our two countries and two peoples.