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Hu Begins State Visit to Australia
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Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Perth on Monday for a state visit to Australia, where he will also attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Sydney on September 8-9.
During his visit, Hu plans to discuss with Australian leaders ways of furthering the development of bilateral relations, as well as major world and regional issues of common concern.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Australia. In 2006, the two countries agreed to cooperatively develop comprehensive ties for mutual benefit in the 21st century.

"China and Australia are important countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the past 35 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have treated each other as equals with mutual respect and actively promoted friendly exchanges and win-win cooperation, and their relationship has maintained a strong momentum of growth," Hu said in a written statement issued upon arrival.

In recent years, cooperation between the two countries has expanded steadily in such fields as economy, trade, energy, environmental protection, culture, science and technology, education, and tourism.

China is the second largest trading partner for Australia while Australia is China's ninth. In 2006, bilateral trade amounted to US$32.9 billion, up 20 percent from the previous year.

In the first six months of 2007, bilateral trade reached US$19.5 billion, a 35 percent increase over the corresponding period of 2006.

"I am visiting Australia to increase mutual trust, expand common ground, deepen cooperation, and boost the growth of China-Australia ties," Hu said in the statement.

Soon after his arrival, Hu met with West Australia Premier Alan Carpenter.

China has become West Australia's largest export market and its second largest trading partner. In recent years, China and Australia's resource-rich state have carried out a series of large cooperation projects in the fields of energy and natural resources. These projects "have provided resources necessary for China's economic construction while vigorously driving the economic growth in West Australia," Hu said.

"Meanwhile, the two sides have also expanded cooperation in education and scientific research," he added.

China stands ready to work with West Australia to bring the level of dual-track cooperation to a new height, he said.

Carpenter said he was delighted to see the sound and mutually beneficial cooperation between West Australia and China and hoped the cooperation would deepen in trade, infrastructure, science and technology, and personnel exchanges.

Perth, capital of West Australia, is the first leg of Hu's weeklong trip, which will also take him to Canberra and Sydney.

"President Hu's visit to Australia will help boost friendly relations, intensify high-level exchanges, and consolidate pragmatic cooperation between China and Australia, " Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei told a press conference in Beijing last Tuesday.

In Sydney, President Hu will attend the 15th Economic Leaders Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and meet with leaders of other APEC members on the sidelines of the meeting.

APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Since its birth in 1989, APEC has grown to encompass 21 members spanning four continents, representing the most economically dynamic region in the world.

The 21 APEC member economies are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, China's Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.

(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2007)

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