Respectable Vice President Madam ZHANG Yan Ling, Board Chairman LIN Ai Hua,
Respectable General Manager WU Shi Qiang, Counselor ZHU Xiao Chuan, Managing Director HUANG Zhi Jian,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On the occasion of the founding of Bank of China (Australia) Co. Ltd., on behalf of Ambassador Madam Fu Ying and all the staff at Chinese Embassy in Australia, I am delighted to extend our warmest congratulations to you all.
The initiation of Bank of China's business in Australia dates back to 1942. Its growth has epitomized the endeavor of modern China to enter the Australian market and embrace the world.
Since it reopened its business at Sydney Branch in 1985, BOC has been maintaining its leading position with largest investment scale and assets as well as highest profits among Chinese-invested ventures in Australia, serving effectively as a bridge linking financial sectors between the two countries..
Today, the founding of Bank of China (Australia) Co. Ltd. marks a significant milestone in BOC's drive to further strengthen its Australian operation. It is our sincere hope that BOC will continue to grow its business and achieve greater success in Australia as well as other parts of the world.
The growth of BOC in Australia is an integral part of the constantly growing China-Australia relations. It has showcased the friendly cooperation between our two countries that is rapidly expanding and deepening.
Over recent years, we have witnessed the frequent exchange of visits between the top officials in China and Australia. This year, Prime Minister John Howard, Deputy Prime Mister and Minister for Trade Mark Vaile, Treasurer Costello and quite a few Cabinet Ministers have visited China. Right at this moment, General Governor His Excellency Jeffery is having a state visit to China.
Our two countries are also developing tremendous economic cooperation in a wide range of areas. In the first half of this year, the volume of bilateral trade reached 12.3 billion US dollars, a rise of 37.9 per cent over the same period of last year and the highest growth rate among China's major trading partners. The official launch into the negotiation of Free Trade Agreement between us has reflected further efforts by both sides to enhance cooperation to mutual benefits and make us both winners.
People-to-people links between our two countries are also strengthening. Last year, the number of Chinese Students studying in Australia topped about 70,000 while there have been 250,000 Chinese tourists traveling to Australia. Several weeks ago, China's Disabled People's Performing Arts Troupe touring Australia has captivated and moved the Australian audience with their display of superb artistic creativity and noble human spirits. We are planning a project titled "Tour of Chinese Culture to Australia" for next year with the hope that such a program would further promote the amiable feelings between China and Australia and between the people in the two countries.
Despite our differences in political systems, values and beliefs as well as cultures and customs, we have been able to transcend the obstacles and seek common grounds for growing our relations. Dialogue and cooperation have always been the fundamental features of our relationships.
Clearly the China-Australia relations are gaining new momentum. With the transition from a major two-way trade-orientation to the parallel developments of diversified collaboration, our relationships have stepped into a new stage. More and more Chinese enterprises are expanding in diverse Australian industries such as mining and smelting in the forms of share holding or joint ventures. By the end of 2004, China has accumulatively invested in more than 250 Australian projects with contracted value amounting to 2 billion US dollars. Some influential Chinese companies are assessing the possibilities of buying into some leading industries in Australia, thereby benefiting from its operation and experience.
In line with the constant progress of our friendly relations, the deepening of economic cooperation as well as the widening of association between the people in our two nations, it is beyond doubt that BOC is going to face more demands of its service in Australia with greater promise of growth. On its way of further development, we are confident that BOC Australia will as always commit itself to offer better financial services to those companies, enterprises, communities and individuals that are legitimate start-ups and operations devoted to the friendly development of our mutual cooperation.
We shall bear in mind that, in the final analysis, the flourishing business growth of BOC in Australia and in the world as a whole is attributed to the increasingly opening-up and rising of our motherland--China.
The 5th plenary session of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China recently held has put forward the major goals for China's economic and social development in its "11th Five-year Plan" for the period between 2006 and 2010. China will continue carrying forward reforms in all fields ranging from economy, politics, finance to society and culture, aimed to build a harmonious society. On the basis of optimizing the structure, improving performance and reducing the energy-consumption of the economy, we are striving to realize our goal of doubling per capita GDP in 2000 to about USD1700 in 2010.
Thanks to the expansion of market economy guided by the principle of building a open, harmonious society, the development of China is in full swing against the backdrop of globalization. Adhering to peaceful rise and seeking the common growth and progress along with other nations in the world is the only choice we have. Just as Prime Minister John Howard pointed out in his address to Asian Society in New York, "China's progress is good for China, and good for the world".