The liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Guangdong, south China, has added a new dimension to energy cooperation between China and Australia, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.
Jiang said the project will help China develop its LNG industry and make use of clean energy.
The project is the first that involves overseas LNG imports.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard will pay a working visit to China from June 27 to 29. Howard will attend the ceremony marking the official start of first phase operations scheduled to be held in Shenzhen on Wednesday, and then hold talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. He will also attend a symposium on a China-Australia free trade zone on Wednesday afternoon.
On Sino-Australian relations, Jiang said the relations have been developing very well. Trade volume between the two countries in 2005 reached US$27.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of 33 percent.
The bilateral cooperation in culture and education, science and technology, tourism and consular affairs has become closer, Jiang said.
China considers Australia a good friend, and is willing to make joint efforts to strengthen dialogue and deepen cooperation so as to promote bilateral development in an all-round way, Jiang said.
In response to a question concerning whether a bilateral meeting is to be held between the foreign ministers of China and Japan during an upcoming ASEAN regional forum (the ARF), Jiang called on Japan to make joint efforts to create an "appropriate atmosphere" for contact and for an exchange of visits between the foreign ministers of the two countries at the appropriate time.
"Seasonal contact and visits are of great importance to the improvement and development of Sino-Japanese ties," Jiang said.
The 13th ARF Ministers' meeting, said Jiang, is due to be held in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. China will send a delegation to the meeting.
"China expects to exchange views with relevant parties of the forum on international and regional security situation as well as the blueprint of the forum," Jiang said.
The ARF was established in 1994 as the main forum for multi-lateral security dialogue and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Turning to the abduction and killing of five Russian diplomats in Iraq, Jiang said: "China condemns the abduction and killing of Russian diplomats and hopes that the security of diplomats from all countries in Iraq could be guaranteed."
Four diplomats were abducted in Baghdad on June 3 when their vehicle came under fire from gunmen.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that the four diplomats taken hostage in Iraq had been killed by their abductors. The fifth diplomat was killed in the carjacking.
With regard to the head tax which was imposed by the Canadian government from 1885 to 1923, Jiang said China welcomes all efforts by other countries to help Chinese living abroad integrate into mainstream society.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on June 22 offered a long-awaited formal apology to the Chinese community for the racially motivated tax.
When the head tax failed to curb Chinese immigration, the Canadian government passed a law in 1923 that banned Chinese from settling in Canada. That law was repealed in 1947.
The Chinese government has taken note of this, Jiang said.
In another development, Jiang stressed that all parties involved should maintain open dialogue and peacefully resolve the Korean Peninsula issue, and strive for an early resumption of the stalled nuclear talks.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing held talks with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ban Ki-moon, in Beijing on Tuesday morning.
China is devoted to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and is willing to work with all sides to achieve that goal.
(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2006)