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China to Strengthen Relations with Australia

China will work with Australia to promote the further development of bilateral relations in all fields on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing Monday.


Wen made the remark during talks with visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who started his working visit to China Sunday evening at Wen's invitation.


The premier said China attaches importance to its relations with Australia and has set the policy of developing relations of overall cooperation with Australia, while Australia has taken a strong Australia-China partnership and strategic economic relationship as one of the priorities of its foreign policy.


Such policies show the far-sightedness of the two countries and conform to the interests of their people, said Wen.


Wen said China and Australia, both important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, have made positive contributions to the stability and economic and social development of the region.


He said bilateral relations have progressed steadily on a solid basis since the two countries established diplomatic relations more than three decades ago, and the frequent high-level contacts in recent years have helped enhance mutual understanding, consensus and cooperation in various fields.


China appreciates Australia's principle of mutual respect, frankly admitting differences and firmly promoting common interest in developing its relations with China, said Wen.


Mutual respect should be the pre-condition for the development of state-to-state relations, and both sides should seek common ground while reserving differences and expand cooperation on this basis to achieve common development, he said.


Talking about bilateral economic and trade relations, Wen said that mutual benefit is an important principle in furthering such relations.


The premier said trade and economic relations between the two countries have kept a sound momentum for development, citing last year's bilateral trade volume which exceeded US$10 billion and the 31.9 percent year-on-year increase in the first half of this year.


This indicates the great potential for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and meanwhile, bilateral cooperation in other fields has also been expanding, added Wen.


Wen expressed thanks for Australia's adherence to the one-China policy and its support for China in international organizations and on the Taiwan issue.


Howard said this is his fourth visit to China since he became prime minister, and in the past years of bilateral diplomatic ties, especially during his tenure, political mutual trust has been strengthened, people-to-people contacts have increased, and economic and trade relations have witnessed a strong growth.


He said the Australian government attaches great importance to its relations with China and is confident in China's future development.


Australia will continue to abide by the one-China policy and will take measures to enhance bilateral constructive relations, Howard said.


He congratulated China on its victory over severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and expressed admiration for China's economic vitality despite the SARS epidemic.


(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2003)

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