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Building a strong Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Between China and Australia
2019/08/21

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and the 47th year since China and Australia established diplomatic ties in 1972. And we have just entered into the fifth year since our bilateral relations was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership during President Xi Jinping's state visit to Australia in 2014. China Australian relations have attracted much media attention recently. As the new Chinese Consul-General to Perth, I wish to present some of my thoughts and observations.

The past 70 years has been an extraordinary journey for the Chinese people. Thanks to their hard work, China has gone through an industrialization process that took many other countries several hundred years. More than 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty, contributing more than 70 percent of the global poverty reduction endeavor. People's average life expectancy has grown from 35 to 77 years. We have achieved free compulsory primary and middle-school education nationwide and established the world's biggest social welfare system. Today the Chinese people feel more secure and have a greater sense of fulfillment and contentment.

Looking into the future, our goal is simple and clear. That is to live up to the aspirations of Chinese People for a better life and to realize the rejuvenation of the nation, while making even greater contributions to the world. The Chinese government has set two Centenary Goals. The first is by 2020, 100 anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, China will have developed its society into a moderately prosperous one in all respects with absolute poverty eradicated. We are now striving to alleviate the remaining 16.6 million people out of poverty as the final and decisive step. The second Centenary Goal is by 2049, 100 anniversary of the People's Republic of China, we will have built China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious.

China's fast development could not have been possible without a peaceful and stable external environment. From the scourge of WWII and a brutal civil war, the Chinese people have learned too well that peace and stability is of paramount value. Taking a people-centred approach, the Chinese government is committed to building a community of shared future for mankind and an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys peace, universal security and common prosperity. China is dedicated to upholding peace and justice, following a win-win strategy of opening up and pursuing common development and prosperity with all other countries.

China's development has greatly benefited the world. Since China's reform and opening up, Chinese economy has maintained an average annual growth rate of 9.5% for the past 40 years. Statistics of WTO, World Bank as well as OECD shows that China accounts for 35 percent of global manufacturing output from 2000 to 2017. China is now the largest export market for 33 countries and the largest source of imports for 65 countries. According to McKinsey's 2018 Global Consumer Sentiment Survey, driven by continuing urbanization and rising income, total Chinese consumption can rise by more than 6 trillion US dollars between 2015 and 2030. The trade war may hurt China in the short run, but China will eventually rise above it and become stronger.

China stands as a responsible global player. From 2019, China has become the second largest contributor to the United Nations regular budget, with its share rising to 12.01 percent from 7.92 percent for the 2016-2018 period. China remains the largest peacekeeping force provider among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. China took the lead in signing the Paris Accord on Climate Change. At the end of 2017, China cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 46 percent from the 2005 level, fulfilling its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 40 to 45 percent from the 2005 level by 2020 three years ahead of schedule. The latest report by the UN's renewable energy advisory body REN21 shows that China has led renewable energy investment worldwide for the seventh successive year, contributing to almost a third of the global renewables investment in 2018 at 91.2 billion US dollars.

China and Australia have a lot to offer each other economically. China is Australia's largest trading partner and major buyer of iron ore, coal and international education services. In 2017-18, China contributed 194.6 billion Australian dollars worth of imports and exports, which is more than the combined value of Australia's trade with Japan and the US. Last year, Australia attracted over 1.3 million Chinese tourists, accounting for more than 15 percent of its total inbound market. China is Australia' biggest international education market, occupying over 30 percent of Australia's international enrollments.

China and Australia are both Pacific countries. We fought shoulder to shoulder in two world wars and jointly uphold world peace and human justice. We have no historical problems or conflicts of fundamental interests. Maintaining stability and prosperity in the region and more widely in the world is in the interests of both countries and our peoples. We have every reason to go beyond a commercial partnership to become true comprehensive strategic partners.

As President Xi Jinping observed in his address to the Australian parliament in 2014, China and Australia differ in history, culture, social system and stage of development, so it is natural for us to have disagreements. It is important we talk to each other candidly, seek common ground and meet each other halfway. We should respect each other's core interests and major concerns and appropriately handle differences. As long as we have long-term and larger interests in mind, increase positive factors and remove obstacles, we will forge a closer and more dynamic comprehensive strategic partnership between us.

Western Australia has always played a positive and pioneering role in our bilateral relations. Its export to China accounted for 58.2 percent of Australia's total in 2018. China remains WA's largest trading partner, export market and import source for many years. As premier McGowan tweeted, 25 percent of the WA economy is based on trade with China. While 63% of China's import of iron ore comes from Western Australia.

During the past 3 months since I arrived, I have been deeply impressed and encouraged by the importance attached to this relationship by the state government, by the enthusiasm of the business community, as well as the good will of the people.

I visited the Australia China Friendship Society WA branch, many of its members are over 80 years now. They shared touching memories of friendship with Chinese people and love for Chinese culture dating back before our diplomatic relations were established. They are the ones who help shape the past of our 47 years of diplomatic relations.

I visited the local primary school which introduced immersion Chinese language courses into WA in 2013, and heard their success story of student enrollments almost doubling since then and overall academic achievement climbing to top 5 in the state. The teachers and students conduct exchange visits with their sister school from Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province, every year. They are the ones who will shape the future of our relations to a even closer partnership.

I've met the CEO and senior officials from FMG, which has exported 1.1 billion tons of iron ore to China during the past 11 years and continues to have confidence and optimism in the Chinese market. I have just visited CITIC Pacific Mining's Sino Iron Project, which has maintained 3000 jobs over the years, 95 percent taken by local Australians. The Project has also generated thousands more jobs indirectly. The business community from both China and WA are the driving force that binds our interests together.

I attended an Australian Football match which invited a Chinese Taiji Master to do the coin toss before more than 50 thousand audience. And I was overwhelmed by the passion for Australian footie here in WA and the hospitality of the management of the West Coast Eagles.

I have received a letter from the Mayor of the City of Bunbury, who invites me to visit and is keen on promoting sister city relationship between Jiaxing and the broader Bunbury Geographe. I have met with representatives from ethnic Chinese community, who are keen on attracting more tourists from their hometown to Perth.

It is the people, young and old, from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds from both sides, who give me confidence and belief in this comprehensive strategic partnership. They are the silent majority who are building this partnership. During the past 47 years, our relations have gone through ups and downs, but its foundation is always there. Looking into the future, our common interests will only grow broader, our people interact even more closely. That's the trend of the times that no one could possibly reverse, including those physically living in the 21st century but sticking to the zero-sum Cold War mentality. So I feel reassured and I am confident, that this comprehensive strategic partnership will eventually mature and grow stronger. I feel lucky and proud to witness and be part of the process.

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