By Zha Peixin
China and Australia established diplomatic relations 35 years
ago. Since then, remarkable achievements have been made in various
fields due to the joint efforts of our two governments and peoples,
which have brought tangible benefits.
The past 35 years have witnessed frequent high-level visits
between leaders of the two countries, as a result, mutual trust has
been strengthened. This week, President Hu Jintao is paying a State
visit to Australia for the second time while attending the APEC
meeting. The high-level exchanges and contacts will definitely
inject new vigor into our bilateral relationship.
Cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and investment has
been developing rapidly. In the early 1970s, what we had was a
limited amount of trade in wheat and wool. Today, China has become
Australia's second largest trading partner, the fastest growing
export market and the second largest export destination, while
Australia ranks as China's ninth biggest trading partner and the
biggest supplier of wool.
The total trade volume of the two sides increased to nearly
US$33 billion last year, at a growth rate of 20.9 percent compared
with the same period the year before. The negotiation on
China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has entered a
substantial stage. Mutual direct investment has reached a new high,
and continues to gain new momentum. Cooperation in the fields of
science and technology, education, culture, and tourism has also
been developing steadily. In February, China-Australia Agreement on
Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and Agreement on
Transfer of Nuclear Material came into force.
Today, nearly 100,000 Chinese students are studying in
Australia. Each year, about 800,000 people from both countries
visit each other and China has become the country with the fastest
growth in the number of foreign tourists visiting Australia.
Besides, the two countries have maintained good consultation and
coordination on regional and international issues. Foreign
ministers of the two countries have established very good working
relations by holding meetings and exchanging views from time to
All these achievements indicate that there is still great
potential to be tapped in the bilateral relations.
Firstly, China and Australia have neither historical grievances
nor conflicts of fundamental interest. On the contrary, our common
grounds have been increasing. For example, in the area of security,
the post-Cold War era is characterized by a mixture of traditional
and non-traditional security threats. Terrorism has become one of
the biggest threats. No single country can deal with them
successfully alone. They call for joint efforts and cooperation
As important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, both China
and Australia have the responsibility of maintaining peace and
stability and promoting prosperity in the region. We have all the
reasons to frequently exchange views on important international and
regional issues and coordinate and cooperate in whatever area where
there is a possibility.
Secondly, our two economies are highly complementary to each
other, and there exists great potential for further cooperation in
the fields of economy, trade, energy and resources.
Though Sino-Australian economic and trade relations have been
expanding rapidly, however, the trade volume between the two
countries is still relatively small in comparison with the size and
scale of the two economies. For instance, our two-way trade only
takes up less than 2 percent of China's total foreign trade.
Australia is rich in natural resources. Its iron ore, aluminum,
grain products and wool have great market potential in China.
Long-term, large-scale and stable cooperation could be reached in
the fields of energy and resources.
Thirdly, there are many other areas where we can cooperate such
as economic management, education, science and technology.
Australia has sound macro-economic management and rich experience
in continuous micro-economic reforms. It has adopted best
international practices to raise productivity and has a
sophisticated business and financial sector, a highly developed
service industry, a strong scientific and technological research
All this is useful to China, a country in reform and
development, to overcome its weak points and break the bottlenecks
it encounters. Each country has its own strengths as well as
weakness. It is highly appropriate to cooperate with each other
toward a win-win outcome for both.
I believe now is the most opportune time for the further
development of Sino-Australian relations.
First, economic globalization has deepened inter-dependence. In
the era of economic globalization, what happens in one country is
no longer irrelevant to the other. If one is doing well, the other
will benefit, likewise, if one is doing poorly, the other will also
suffer. It is of utmost importance to give full play to one's
comparative advantages, cooperate with other countries to make a
win-win situation for all. With the established links between China
and Australia, economic globalization will draw the two countries
even closer and open up new opportunities for the further
development of all-round cooperation and exchanges.
Secondly, we are living in an era where science and technology
are making rapid progress. International cooperation in science and
technology has become a trend of our times. Australia is well
advanced in quite a number of fields. Although China is still a
developing country, it is also making huge progress in the
development of science and technology. There are indeed many areas
where our two countries can cooperate.
Thirdly, the fast emergence of Asia on the world economic scene
has provided good opportunities for China-Australia relations.
Australia, as a country in the Asia-Pacific region, is closely
connected with Asia. Its economy is complimentary to that of Asia.
So the future prospect of Australia is undoubtedly closely
connected with Asia.
Last but not least, China's industrialization, urbanization,
marketization and integration to the world economy have created
enormous opportunities for the development of our bilateral
The author is a former Chinese ambassador to
(China Daily September 3, 2007)