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Foreign Exchange China's Own Issue: Global Foundation Official

Overseas critics of China's foreign exchange system should refrain from interfering in the country's policy-making process, a senior official with an Australian elite business and international affairs society said.

China's foreign exchange policy is a matter for China to resolve," said Steve Howard, secretary of the Global Foundation, a Melbourne-based forum for Australia's global affairs and development.

"People should be careful not to be premature in expressing their opinions," Howard said, referring to calls for modifications to China's forex administration mechanism and, in some cases, calls for a full flotation of the renminbi, China's currency.

He spoke in advance of a single-day meeting with its partner organization, the China Institute of International Studies, to be held tomorrow in Beijing. China's macroeconomic issues, which also include development in banking and in various trade sectors, are a major part of the agenda.

The Australian side wants to know more about the economic policy development goals of the Chinese Government.

The Australian delegation consists of two dozen members. Most of them are senior executives from major Australian corporations. The entourage also includes government officials and scholars.

Howard said the foundation attaches great importance to China's emerging significance in world affairs and to China-Australia relations.

Trade relations between the two countries have been progressing very smoothly, Howard said.

Australia's business community is "very much encouraged" by the two countries' decision announced earlier this year to build closer trade and economic relations, he said.

China is likely to become Australia's biggest trading partner in 10 or 15 years, he said. China is now Australia's third biggest import-export partner. Australia is now China's eighth biggest.

Howard said he hopes Australia will continue to be a "reliable source" of raw materials, such as minerals and gas, for China.

He said opportunities for business co-operation exist in service industries such as tourism and education.

In addition, he said Australia now has 35,000 Chinese students studying there, which creates an annual revenue of 500 million Australian dollars (US$320 million) per year.

Howard said he also hopes Chinese entrepreneurs will find Australia a good place to invest as a growing number of Chinese companies look for investment opportunities abroad.

(China Daily September 1, 2003)

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