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Remarks at the Reception on the Occasion of the Assumption of Duty by H.E. Ambassador Cheng Jingye
2016/08/25

25 August 2016, Canberra

Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Distinguished Members of Parliament,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Thank you for attending the reception. Before my arrival in Australia as the new Chinese Ambassador, I had the privilege to receive Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on his visit to China last April and witness a strong and shared commitment of leaders of the two countries to further advancing bilateral relations. I was also deeply impressed by the huge success of the Australian Week in China, the great enthusiasm of Australian people from all sectors for the relationship with China, and the immense potential of China-Australia cooperation. As the 14th Chinese Ambassador to Australia, I am deeply aware of my lofty mission and important responsibilities.

Forty-four years on, rain or shine, China-Australia relations have come a long way. Few could have imagined back in 1972 when the two countries established diplomatic ties that China would one day become Australia's largest trading partner. Next year will mark the 45th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic ties and offer both countries an important opportunity to take stock of the past and look to the future. China-Australia relations started from scratch and have grown from strength to strength, as evidenced by the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership and implementation of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

The core factor underlying this trajectory is the deepening of political mutual trust and common interests between the two countries, which has steered the bilateral relations along the right course of comprehensive, strategic and practical cooperation. It constitutes an important contribution to the peace, stability and development of the region and world at large.

The practical cooperation across the board between China and Australia has delivered enormous benefits to both peoples. China is not only the No.1 trading partner of Australia, but also claims many other No.1 titles for its cooperation with Australia. Despite sluggish world economy, China-Australia two-way trade has seen quite stable growth with improved trade mix and agriculture and services, among others, becoming new areas of growth.

China's sustained development and huge market have driven not only the mining boom that helped Australia ward off the impact of the global financial crisis, but also the boom of innovation, international education and tourism underpinning Australia's economic transition. In the meantime, Australia's quality food, energy and mineral products have also contributed to improving the lives of the Chinese people and expanding businesses of Chinese companies. In addition, China and Australia have seen rapid development of bilateral cooperation in defence, culture, science, technology, education, tourism and closer local and people-to-people exchanges. All this has enhanced public support for China-Australia relations.

As two important countries in the Asia-Pacific, China and Australia enjoy geographic proximity, highly complementary economies and solid basis of common interests. In the context of deep and complex changes in the regional and international situation, both China and Australia have given top priority to development and committed themselves to domestic economic transition through reform and innovation. China-Australia relations are a part and parcel of the Asia-Pacific community of shared destiny. We need to ensure the development of this relationship in the right direction and further deepen our political mutual trust and practical cooperation across the board. It serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, conforms to the general historical trend and meets the needs of regional development.

Given the differences between China and Australia in terms of national conditions, social system and culture, it is natural that the two countries may disagree on some issues.

On his visit to Australia in 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping quoted an Australian saying, "keep your eyes on the sun and you will not see the shadows". There is also a Chinese saying: "we should not be afraid of the floating clouds blocking our view".

I believe that China-Australia relations stand on a solid foundation and the bonds are strong between the two countries. It is crucial for the two sides to take a longer-term, more inclusive and ambitious approach and keep focused on the mainstay and general direction of China-Australia friendship and cooperation. It is important to respect each other's core interests and major concerns, properly manage disagreements through strengthened dialogue, and expand mutually beneficial cooperation so as to advance our comprehensive strategic partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will attend the Hangzhou G20 summit in about ten days' time. It is the first time for China to chair the premier international mechanism for global economic governance. With the theme being "Towards An Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy", the Hangzhou G20 Summit is expected to deliver important outcomes in areas like innovative growth, sustainable development, structural reform, and trade growth.

Given a weak world economic recovery, the summit is all the more relevant and will hopefully become the most fruitful one in the history of G20. China and Australia have maintained in-depth communication and close cooperation over the agenda and outcomes of the summit. China looks forward to working with Australia and other members to build upon the summit to jointly promote regional and global development and prosperity.

While taking an active part in global economic governance, China is sparing no effort to press ahead with its own economic restructuring. This year marks the beginning of the 13th Five Year Plan. The Chinese government is pursuing an innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development with the focus on pushing forward structural reform, that on the supply-side in particular. Painstaking efforts have been made to foster the new economy and growth drivers, and to strengthen financial stability and its role in supporting economic recovery. For the first six months, China's GDP growth reached 6.7% and the absolute growth amounted to that of double-digit growth five years ago. At the same time, the growth model is shifting with new growth drivers replacing the old ones at a pace faster than expected and economic development with more evident features of the "new normal". It is worth mentioning that China's non-financial foreign direct investment reached RMB 580.2 billion yuan for the first half of this year, up by 58% over the same period last year. Though still facing difficulties at home and abroad, the Chinese government has every confidence to deliver on the goals of national economic and social development for this year.

The sustained and stable development of the Chinese economy will continue to make important contribution to regional and world economic growth. Australia's economic development and restructuring will also continue to benefit from the implementation of ChAFTA and the synergy between China's "One Belt One Road" initiative and Australia's development strategy. It is our hope that both sides would work together to stand for trade and investment facilitation and liberalization and against protectionism of all manifestations.

The sound and stable development of China-Australia relations and all-round cooperation would not have been possible but for the strong support of all of you present here. I would like to take this opportunity to salute and appreciate your efforts. I will build on the achievements of my predecessors and join hands with you to push for greater progress in our bilateral ties.

Thank you.

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