Senator Bob Carr has called for broader military ties between Australia and China before his first official Chinese visit as Australian foreign minister.
The successor of mandarin-speaking Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, will visit China next week for three days at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.
Carr told Xinhua that the bilateral relationship between Australia and China needed to be deepened beyond what he called " the transactional economic agenda" by creating confidence-building measures that included military co-operation.
Carr said, "I'm open to any approaches, any ideas from our Chinese partners in an expansion of points of contact between Australia and China and there is already a level of military to military co-operation between Australia and China and that's in the interest of both countries and I want to see that broadened.
Carr's first visit to China as foreign minister comes at a time of growing regional disquiet at Australia's strategic stance,with 2500 U.S. marines taking up a controversial new deployment in Darwin, a deployment that the foreign minister was keen to play down.
"The U.S. troop presence is a rotating troop presence - not a base," he said.
"Those troops are in, they do training, they do joint exercises and then they're out. It's not a base. The numbers are small -- 2500, at the present time 250 -- those numbers are so small as to render that presence insignificant."
China has swiftly become Australia's key trading partner.
Enhancing that trade will be a key objective of Carr's visit, as he battles a growing perception in Chinese business circles that Australia is ambivalent toward foreign investment after highly publicized Federal government intervention in investments and contracts involving companies like mobile giant Huawei.
Carr said that perception was mistaken and Australia was open to Chinese investment and wanted more.
"Chinese investment in Australia has grown. It's grown in strategic sectors of the economy - for example in mining. There are huge Chinese in now in the mining sector.
"Australia's got a very open investment climate. And this is true of foreign direct investment originating in China we want to see more Chinese investment in Australia,"he said.
Carr will also seek to reassure Chinese students after a vicious attack in Sydney last month left one Chinese national with a broken cheekbone and caused a furor on micro-blogs around the region.
He said, "Australia is one of the safest places to live in and to study. I'm very proud that Australia offers a safe environment for overseas students, Chinese students to live in and work in."