Remarks by Ambassador Xiao Qian at the New Year Reception of Chinese and Australian Media

2024-01-18 15:02

Friends from the media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning! On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to extend my New Year greetings and best wishes to all of you. Thank you for coming to the reception, and for your attention and support to the friendly relations between China and Australia.

At the beginning of the new year, I would like to briefly review the development of China-Australia relations in the past year. 2023 was a year of exchange, dialogue and improvement for China-Australia relations. With the joint efforts of both sides, we have embarked on the right path of improving and developing our bilateral ties, reflected in the following areas:

First, the leaders of the two countries have steered the course for China-Australia relations. On the basis of the Bali meeting between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Albanese in 2022, the high-level exchanges between the two countries in 2023 were highlighted. In September, the meeting between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Australia PM Albanese in Jakarta, Indonesia was fruitful and constructive. In November, PM Albanese paid a successful official visit to China that coincides with the 50th anniversary of PM Gough Whitlam’s official visit. President Xi Jinping and PM Albanese had an exchange of views on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of the long-term development of China-Australia relations and offered important strategic guidance. Premier Li Qiang and Chairman Zhao Leji also had in-depth exchanges of views with Prime Minister Albanese on bilateral relations and issues of common concern. PM Albanese’s visit is of great significance in promoting the healthy and stable development of China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, providing an important opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made together and chart the course for the future. The leaders of the two countries also had active interactions on summits such as APEC and G20.

Second, dialogue and cooperation across the board have been resumed. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Australian Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong met on bilateral and multilateral occasions. Chinese officials such as Tie Ning, vice chairperson of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress, Gao Yunlong, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Huai Jinpeng, Minister of Education, Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Ma Zhaoxu, Executive Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Ma Youxiang, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs visited Australia. Australian Trade Minister Senator Don Farrell and the premiers of Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland also visited China respectively. The 7th Meeting of China-Australia High-level Dialogue was successfully held in Beijing. Exchanges between the two countries among political parties and local areas as well as those in economy, education, military and tourism have gradually resumed, laying a good foundation for the all-round development of bilateral relations in the next stage.

Third, practical cooperation has yielded fruitful results. Two-way trade hit a historic high. According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, from January to November last year, the total trade in goods between Australia and China was 281.263 billion Australian dollars, an increase of 8.52 percent year-on-year; while Australia's exports to China reached 184.734 billion Australian dollars, an increase of 17.79% year-on-year, accounting for 35.96% of Australia's total exports of goods trade. Australia's imports from China amounted to 96.529 billion Australian dollars, accounting for 24.09% of Australia's total merchandise imports.

Investment cooperation has made positive progress. According to Chinese data, China's investment in Australia has exceeded 100 billion US dollars. According to Chinese data, from January to November last year, Australia's investment in China reached 410 million US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 9%. Earlier last year, Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board approved the 2 billion US dollar West Range iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia jointly developed by China Baowu and Rio Tinto, paving the way for a long-term strategic partnership between the two companies.

The two sides properly addressed each other's legitimate trade concerns on the basis of mutual respect. Australian coal, logs, barley, hay and other products have returned to the Chinese market, and Australia has granted the commercial lease of the Port of Darwin to Chinese-owned company again. The two countries have reached a principled consensus on properly resolving trade disputes over Australian wine exports to China and Chinese wind towers to Australia.

Fourth, the momentum of cultural and people-to-people exchanges is improving. China remains Australia's largest source of overseas students. As of September 2023, the number of Chinese students in Australia has increased by 5% compared to the same period last year. Scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries in astronomy, clean energy, biotechnology, digital technology, water and environment, advanced materials and manufacturing has made steady progress. In the first three quarters of last year, more than 380,000 Chinese tourists visited Australia, and the air capacity between China and Australia has recovered to 87 percent of the pre-COVID-19 level. A series of cultural activities such as "Happy Chinese New Year", "China Film Festival" and "China-Australia Cultural Exchange Photography Exhibition" were successfully held, and received positive responses from friends from all walks of life in Australia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,

Through the joint efforts of both sides, our bilateral relations have embarked on the right path of improvement and development. We need to work on the basis of the results yielded by PM Albanese's visit, fully implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and jointly pursue a bilateral relationship that features treating each other on an equal footing, seeking common ground while shelving differences and mutually beneficial cooperation. This serves the common interests of the two countries and peoples.

As 2024 marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the development of China-Australia relations faces important opportunities. We are willing to work with Australia to promote the continuous development of China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. I would like to share with you my following expectations.

First, maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges. This year, China and Australia will engage in a series of important events on the political agenda. The Australian side has invited Chinese leader to visit Australia at a mutually convenient time, the leaders of the two countries also have opportunities to communicate and exchange on bilateral and multilateral occasions. The two sides need to maintain communication on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-Australia relations, focus more on the positive agendas, view each other in a rational, friendly and inclusive manner, pursue a proactive, pragmatic and objective policy, work in the same direction, expand cooperation, properly handle differences, and ensure a sustained, sound, and stable development of China-Australia relations.

Second, strengthen exchanges and dialogue in various fields. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties more than 50 years ago, the two countries have established a series of exchange and cooperation mechanisms covering various fields. The two sides should work together to implement the spirit of the Statement on joint outcomes of the China-Australia annual leaders' meeting, including to resume China-Australia Annual Leaders' Meeting, Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue, China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, China-Australia Joint Ministerial Economic Commission and other intergovernmental dialogue mechanisms. We should actively promote exchanges between our counterparts in culture, sports, education, innovation, academia, aviation, health, tourism, security, police and law enforcement, host a new round of China-Australia High Level Dialogue, and make full use of these mechanisms in enhancing mutual understanding, resolving differences, building consensus and exploring cooperation.

Third, deepen practical cooperation. The economies of China and Australia are highly complementary and have huge potential for cooperation. The two sides should make joint efforts to follow the market principles, strengthen cooperation in traditional fields such as energy and mining as well as emerging fields such as green development, digital economy, scientific and technological innovation and health industry, refrain from politicizing economic and trade issues and overstretching the concept of security, so as to achieve win-win development and promote regional prosperity.

Fourth, advance cooperation in international and regional affairs. China and Australia share common interests and responsibilities in maintaining regional stability and promoting common development. China welcomes Australia to play a more constructive role in the region. We should strengthen coordination within organizations such as UN, G20 and APEC, step up communication on climate change and support for the sustainable development of Pacific island countries, further promote trade and investment liberalization, provide a environment for regional economic integration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,Dear Friends,

Both China and Australia are important countries in the Asia-Pacific region. At present, we are experiencing profound changes unseen in a century. Humanity is standing at the crossroads of history. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping reiterated China’s willingness to work with other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind, put forward China's solution to the questions of what kind of world to build and how to build it, and proposed to build an orderly and equitable multipolar world and inclusive economic globalization.

China and Australia share broad common interests and enjoy cooperation. China is ready to strengthen dialogue and exchanges with Australia and other countries in the world, join hands to advance on the road of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and make unremitting efforts to achieve common prosperity and development and promote human progress.

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,

Two weeks ago, the world just entered the New Year, and next month we will usher in the Chinese Year of the Dragon. In Chinese culture, the dragon is a symbol of auspiciousness and prosperity.I hope that in the new year, China-Australia relations will see sustained, sound and steady development and our countries and peoples will enjoy more happiness, and prosperity. Finally, let's raise a toast to your good health and successful career, to China-Australia friendship, Cheers!