By Zhai Kun
President Hu Jintao is paying a state visit to Australia and is
to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. This
is President Hu's second visit to Australia since 2003, which shows
that China attaches great importance to promoting Sino-Australian
The in-depth development of the China-Australia cooperative
partnership will largely help better the Asia-Pacific strategic
environment in which China and Australia find themselves.
Australia is part of the Asia-Pacific region. The country's
strategic focus has shifted to Asia-Pacific since Australia
introduced in the 1980s the idea of integrating into Asia.
Australia's chief areas of concern include the South Pacific,
Southeast Asian and Northeast Asian areas and, therefore, the
country is enthusiastic about getting involved in relevant security
China, Japan and the United States are the three primary trade
partners of Australia. And Australia is trying to forge free trade
areas with various countries in this region. For example,
Australia-America and Australia-Singapore free trade agreements
have been signed. Australia-China, Australia-New Zealand and
Australia-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are
currently afoot. Australia-Japan talks on Free Trade Agreement
(FTA) have been launched. And FTA negotiations with South Korea and
India are in the pipeline.
Australia is also playing an active part in economic cooperation
in Asia-Pacific. It was one of the sponsors that initiated the
founding of APEC in 1989, for instance. It has also got involved in
pan-Asian cooperative mechanisms, taking parting in the ASEAN forum
in 1994 and the East Asia Summit in 2005. Besides, Australia is
getting more and more extensively and intensively involved in
exchanges with Asia. For example, Australia's national soccer team,
as a member of the Asian Football Confederation, took part in the
Asia Cup tournament this year. In the context of Asia's rise and
the orders in Asia-Pacific being realigned, Australia, relying on
its own efforts, is becoming a member of Asia, showing ever
stronger Asia-Pacific attributes.
Australia is one of the primary economic players in
Asia-Pacific. The nation's GDP ranks seventh in the region, after
the United States, Japan, China, Russia, India and ASEAN. The
country abounds in iron ore, coal, uranium and natural gas
resources. The rapid growth of the Chinese and Indian economies
serves to enhance Australia's status as a big resources supplying
Australia is pushing for ideas of sustainable development and
plays a constructive role in tackling global environmental
problems, through international organizations and regional
Australia is one polar of the Asia-Pacific strategic framework.
The Australian-US alliance, for example, is becoming increasingly
consolidated and Australia and Japan are "best friends" in Asia.
Australia and China is working together to bring about an
all-around cooperative partnership. Australia and ASEAN signed a
statement on all-around partnership in July this year. Also,
Australia and India echo each other in making efforts to reinforce
the partnership between them.
Other parties are also wooing Australia in their efforts to make
the latter a strategic factor balancing other players. This finds
expression in the introduction of US-Japan-Australia and
US-Japan-India-Australia strategic-dialogue mechanisms.
Viewed from a wider strategic perspective, Australia has become
a sub-geopolitical center in Asia-Pacific in the context that the
economic and strategic gravity of the world is shifting to
Sino-Australian cooperation facilitates the improvement of
Asia-Pacific's strategic environment. Both countries are newly
emerging forces in the area. Their development is good for each
other. China, for example, is becoming a primary dynamo powering
the growth of the Australian economy. Bilateral trade was US$32.95
billion last year. China is now Australia's second largest trade
partner and Australia ninth largest of China. Chinese professionals
in various fields can help relieve Australia's manpower shortages.
And Australia is China's major supplier of energy, resources and
high-tech products and also an ideal venue for China's exports and
Besides, both countries can draw upon each other's strong points
and advantages in their common undertakings of tackling the
worsening environment, global warming and energy shortages and
tapping nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In this way, they can
help power the progress of various cooperative mechanisms in
Asia-Pacific such as APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, President Hu, during
his trip to the APEC meeting in Sydney, will propose the
establishment of a management network involving forest renewal and
sustainable development in Asia-Pacific in a bid to bring into play
the role of forests in cushioning global warming.
Australia recognizes China's status as a market economy, is open
to bilateral free-trade talks, refuses to join the United States
and Japan in their lobbying the European Union for an arms embargo
against China, and is opposed to "Taiwan independence".
The reinforcement of China-Australia ties facilitates the
further enhancement of Australia's strategic standing in the
Asia-Pacific framework. Meanwhile, the voice inside Australia that
the country serves as a bridge between China and the United States
and between China and Japan is getting increasingly louder.
All taken, China-Australia cooperation, which manifests mutually
sharing benefits, developing hand in hand, powering each other
along and jointly coping with challenges, is conducive to driving
the prosperity of Asia-Pacific. It is hoped that President Hu's
Australia visit will help promote the two countries' mutual trust,
expand their consensus and deepen their cooperation to bring about
a better future for both.
The author is a researcher with China Institute of
Contemporary International Relations.
(China Daily September 4, 2007)