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Address by HE Ambassador MA Zhaoxu to Members of the Australia-China Parliamentary Group

Address by HE Ambassador MA Zhaoxu to Members of the Australia-China Parliamentary Group

(27 August, 2014, Australian Parliament House)

The Hon Philip Ruddock MP,

Dear friends of the Australian Parliament,

It is my great pleasure to meet with you all. First of all, let me congratulate you on the formation of the new Australia-China Parliamentary Group. Second, I wish to thank Chairman Ruddock and all members of the Group for your long-standing support to bilateral parliamentary exchanges and the broader China-Australia ties.

In two days, it will be the one-year anniversary of my assumption of office as the Chinese Ambassador to Australia. Over the past year, I traveled to many places of Australia, engaging extensively with politicians, governments, parliaments and different communities. The warmth, hospitality, vigor and pioneering spirit of the Australian people impressed me deeply. Most gratifyingly, under joint efforts, the two countries deepened mutual understanding and friendship, made significant progress in practical cooperation and pushed forward China-Australia strategic partnership. The concept of China-Australia friendship has taken roots in the hearts and minds of both peoples.

One Australian friend asked me how I feel after being Ambassador to Australia for a year. I replied: though different in history, culture, political system and development stage, China and Australia have no fundamental conflict of interests and do not pose a threat to each other. Quite the contrary, the two countries have huge complimentarity and extensive common interests. I strongly believe that as long as we accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, put in perspective each other’s development path and strategy, properly handle differences through dialogue, bilateral ties will continue to advance on a solid footing to the great benefit of both peoples.

China-Australia ties are growing in an all-round manner. The two countries established strategic partnership, leaders’ annual meeting mechanism and important frameworks such as the foreign and strategic dialogue and strategic economic dialogue. There have been frequent exchanges at the top level. President Xi Jinping will attend the G20 Brisbane Summit and visit Australia in November, which will surely give a strong boost to bilateral ties. What’s more, the frequent meetings, phone conversations and exchange of letters by the top leadership have also helped deepen mutual trust and cooperation, charting the course for bilateral relations.

The bond of win-win cooperation is getting stronger. China has been Australia’s largest trading partner, largest source of import, largest export market and largest source of trade surplus. Last year, two-way trade between China and Australia exceeded AUD150 billion, among which Australian export to China reached AUD100 billion. It is estimated that one out of every three dollars of Australian export goes to the China. Fifty-four out of every 100 tones of China’s imported iron ore come from Australia. 47% of Australian wool goes to China and 53% of China’s beef comes from Australia. According to the ACBC, export to China has added AUD13,400 to the annual income of each Australian household, equivalent to earning a new car by each household every year.

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges are increasingly vigorous. Last year, 820,000 Chinese visited China and 730,000 Australians visited China, a total of more than 1.5 million visits, equivalent to 10 flights of Boeing747 traveling between the two countries every day. An Australian friend observes that apart from aiming to attract more tourists from China, Australia needs to be adaptive and build more infrastructures to provide better service for Chinese tourists. Educational cooperation continues to be the highlights of bilateral relations. Last year, 220,000 Chinese students were studying in Australia and over 3000 Australian students in China. With the official launch of the New Colombo Plan, more and more Australian students are expected to go to China for study, which I believe will lead to even stronger bilateral relations in the future.

From the beginning of this year, the pains inflicted by the tragic fate of Malaysian Airlines MH370 and MH17 have bound the hearts of our two peoples. China and Australia’s close cooperation in face of adversity is an epitome of the strategic partnership between the two countries. It again manifests China and Australia as good friends, good neighbors and good partners. In the field of defense, China and Australia both participated in Exercise RIMPAC and will conduct a joint exercise with the US in the coming October. As Australia continues to perform its role as non-permanent member of UN Security Council, China and Australia are having good coordination and communication under the framework of the UN Security Council, APEC, G20, EAS, etc. China supports Australia in hosting the G20 Brisbane Summit and is ready to work with Australia for great outcomes.

Dear MPs, Ladies and Gentlemen,

China-Australia relations have made historical progress since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1972. A sound China-Australia relationship not only serves the interests of the two countries and the two peoples, it also contributes to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region as well as the world. As the world undergoes profound and complex changes, huge potential is yet to be tapped in expanding mutual interests and scope of cooperation on both bilateral and multilateral levels. The future for China-Australia relations holds great promise.

Parliamentary exchange plays an important part in the development of China-Australia relations. China values its exchanges and cooperation with the Australian Parliament, and is ready to further such exchanges with parliamentary leaders, members, special committees and friendship groups, especially young parliamentarians of Australia. In this way we will be able to enhance mutual understanding and learn from each other for better development of both countries. As members of Australia-China group, you can play an important role in promoting mutual understanding between the two peoples and friendly ties between the two countries. I sincerely hope you will continue to care for and support China-Australia ties in all areas. I stand ready to work closely with you.

Thank you.

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