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Statement by Consul General Dong Zhihua at the 9th Australia-China Emerging Leaders Summit
2019/07/30

(25 July 2019, Perth )

Mr. Cameron Hee, ACELS Executive Director,

Ms Kate Longhurst, State Director at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Mr Adam Handley, President of ACBC WA

Ms Erin Watson-Lynn, Head of Programs at the PerthUSAsia Centre

Ms Ying Jiang, Director at the Confucius Institute

Mr Mark Beeson, Professor of International Relations at UWA

Mr Alan Smith, Former Director of Strategic Partnerships at Rio Tinto

Mr Li. Bowen, President of Anhui Association of Australia

Distinguished ACELS delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

I am very happy to join you today at the opening ceremony of the 9th Australia-China Emerging Leaders Summit. I am delighted to see the ACELS is being held in Western Australia this year. I would like to extend my warm welcome to all the delegates who have traveled afar. I hope you fully enjoy the distinctive beauty and serenity of Perth. As emerging leaders, you are to play a crucial role for the future of our two nations as well as our bilateral relations. Special thanks to Rio Tinto. You have been so wise to sponsor today's Summit, to invest on the younger generation.

The Australia- China Youth Association as the organizer has chosen a good topic for the Summit, "Australia-China: The Road to 50 years of Diplomatic Relations",and has done excellent homework by highlighting all the monumental diplomatic events in China-Australia relationship in the Topic Summary. I would just touch upon some of the most fundamental issues.

China and Australia have entered into diplomatic ties for almost half a century now. How to define our bilateral relationship? President Xi Jinping noted in his address to the Australian Parliament in 2014 that "China has always viewed Australia as an important partner". It is during President Xi's state visit to Australia in 2014 that our bilateral relationship was officially elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the China-Australia FTA negotiations was formally concluded. President Xi's address comprehensively elaborates China's vision and position on our bilateral relations, which still prevails today. I strongly recommend you to read his address to get the full picture.

In my diplomatic career, I have witnessed various dimensions of our bilateral relations from both the rosy and tough sides. The breadth of China-Australia bilateral relationship can be demonstrated by the range and diversity of consultation mechanisms established. China and Australia have also interacted frequently in the multilateral mechanisms like the UN, APEC and G20. In a world that is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges, we have no other choices but cooperation between our two countries. We don't agree on everything, but we can talk frankly and find common ground, and cooperate on the basis of that.

As Consul General I am engaged in bilateral relations from the grassroots level. And it's so fascinating to get to know the people from all walks of life, do concrete things to promote practical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, which forge the very foundation of our relations. I must admit that I have not come at the best time, our bilateral relations are still faced with difficulties and challenges. But I have come at the right time. After all, this is what diplomats are meant for. And I promised that I will do everything I can to strengthen our relations and friendship. I have high expectations on you and hope that as emerging leaders, you could take the lead in breaking the barriers and bring fresh insights and new impetus into our bilateral relations in the years ahead.

First, break the psychological barrier. Does China's rapid development present opportunity or constitute a threat? Why some people in the West are so uncomfortable and suspicious about China's rise? History has proven that Chinese people have no genes of aggression or intervention. The Chinese government takes as it's mission the well-being of the Chinese people and the great revival of the Chinese nation. China is willing to join hands with all other countries to build a community of shared future for mankind. I hope you have the courage and ingenuity to make judgments based on your own observations rather than parroting what you have been told. I hope you are capable enough to get to know a real China and tell the world what you really see.

Secondly, break the ideological barrier. China and Australia differ in history, culture, social system and stage of development, thus it is natural for us to have different perspectives and even disagreements. But we should not allow these differences to prevent us from having a shared vision or pursuing common interests. China and Australia are not burdened by historical problems and do not have any conflict of fundamental interests. We should respect each other's core interests and major concerns. Our two countries can draw upon each other's strengths and work towards common benefits. I hope you will be broad-minded, have long-term and larger interests in mind.

Thirdly, break the institutional barrier. China and Australia are both important countries in the Asia-Pacific. There is huge potential for our bilateral cooperation, which will benefit not only our two countries but the region and beyond. Our trade relations budded here in WA in 1994 with iron ore have rapidly developed to cover a wide range of commodities and services. Since the entry into force of China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, our two way trade volume has reached a record of AUD214.6 billion in 2018, with an annual increase by more than 10%. Added together an increase of almost 50% over the past 5 years. China's development has made a significant contribution to Australia's 28 years of consecutive economic growth, and Australia's resources and energy have facilitated and powered China's urbanization and modernization. Together we can enlarge the pie of common interest and achieve win-win results, and build a harmonious and prosperous Asia-Pacific. As young people and emerging leaders, you should be the vanguards to open new frontiers, take new initiatives and create new platforms to expand our cooperation.

Dear young friends,

President Xi Jinping has pointed out that "it is the steady streams of mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples that have created the vast ocean of goodwill between China and Australia". It is incumbent on you to help forge bridges of mutual understanding and amity between our peoples. I hope you will carry the torch of China-Australia friendship and push our relations to go from strength to strength.

Without further ado, I declare the ninth Australia-China Emerging leaders Summit now open. I wish the summit a complete and great success. And I wish the fabulous black swans here in WA not only delight you but also inspire you to always expand your knowledge of the world with your own eyes and think outside the box.

I thank you!

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