1. We have seen frequent exchanges of visits between top officials in China and Australia over recent years. What benefits this has brought about to the development of bilateral relations? What are the specific significance and purposes of Premier Wen's visit to Australia?
Over recent years the frequency of high-level reciprocal visits between leaders in China and Australia has been on the increase. In 2003 President Hu Jintao paid a visit to Australia, followed by the visit of Mr. Wu Banguo, the Chairman of China's National People's Congress in 2005. Prime Minister John Howard has visited China for five times since he was in power. In addition, President Hu and Premier Wen have respectively met with Australian leaders on a number of international multi-lateral occasions. With the increasing frequency of mutual contacts, leaders in both countries have been able to exchange their views in-depth on bilateral relations and on a wide range of issues of mutual concern. This has greatly facilitated the understanding and trust between the two nations while giving a strong boost to the mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields.
In a few days time, Premier Wen Jiabao is going to make an official visit to Australia upon invitation of Prime Minister John Howard. They have met with each other on quite a few previous occasions, therefore, it can be said that they are old friends. The China-Australia relations has been gaining momentum these days so positively both sides are looking forward to continuously deepening the cooperation to mutual benefits..
The purposes of Premier Wen's visit are to strengthen the political mutual trust under the new circumstances, and promote all-round cooperation between the two nations on the win-win basis of mutual benefits, thus steering our bilateral relations to a new high.
During Premier Wen's visit, he will meet with PM John Howard as well as other leaders in the Australia.. Premier will also take the opportunity to associate with Australian people in all walks of life. In the meantime, the relevant ministries of the two countries will sign a series of cooperative documents and we will also witness the signing of numerous important agreements in relation to economic and trade cooperation between the companies of our two countries. Leaders of both nations will also exchange their views on a variety of regional and international issues of common concern. Foreign Ministers and Ministers in charge of economy of the two sides will also hold independent meetings between them.
In short, both China and Australia have paid significant attention to this visit and placed great hope on the fruitful outcome of this visit. I entertain a firm belief that the visit of Premier Wen is going to be a complete success, producing active and far-reaching influence over the long-term and stable development of China-Australia relations.
2. The economic and trade relations between the two countries have been growing exponentially in recent years. To put economic and trade cooperation in perspective, what is your view in relation to its importance and roles in terms of the overall relations between China and Australia?
China and Australia established formal diplomatic relations in 1972. It took 24 years for the bilateral trade volume to total USD5 billion and 6 years to grow from USD5 billion to USD10 billion. However, from USD10 billion, it only took 2 years for it to breakthrough the USD20 billion. In 2005, with bilateral trade volume reaching USD27.25 billion, China has become both the second largest commodities trade partner and export market of Australia. By the end of 2005, there have been 7401 Australian invested projects in China with contractual investment of USD14.745 billion and paid-in amount of USD4.486 billion. On the other hand, Chinese companies have invested in 272 projects in Australia with realized value of USD500 million. These figures will carry on their growth this year.
In the meantime, the development of bilateral economic and trade relations have given an impetus to the exchanges and cooperation in the fields such as education, tourism and cultures. In 2005 nearly 300,000 Chinese tourists visited Australia. China is now Australia's fourth largest source of tourists in the world and the largest source of tourists in Asia. China is also Australia's largest source of foreign students, with the number of Chinese students' (from mainland?) enrollment exceeding 80,000 in 2005. This year, "Chinese Culture Australia Tour" has been actively promoting a series of colorful cultural exhibitions and exchange activities across Australia.
The development of China-Australia economic and trade relations is attributed to the stable and solid political relations between the two countries. It has been conducive not only to enhancing people-to-people contacts but also deepening the understanding between the two countries. With it being the key driver of the overall growth in China-Australia relations, a virtuous development model underlined by the mutual facilitation between political and economic orientation in our relations has taken shape.
3. The dramatic growth in bilateral economic and trade relations have lasted for several years now. Is such a momentum of rapid growth going to continue? If yes, why?
China and Australia are highly complementary economically. The economic structure of Australia is distinct in its dumbbell shaped feature, i.e., "strong-on-both-ends & weak-in-the-middle". In other words, Australia has advanced upstream resources sector and downstream Hi-Tech industries with relatively small scale of processing and manufacturing in the middle. Comparatively, China is known for its decent scale of processing and manufacturing, rich labour resources and the corresponding international competitiveness. The mutual complementarities are just like two engaging gear wheels, offering a constant motive force to the growth of bilateral economic and trade relations. As long as we make joint efforts in creating desirable environments conducive to the further development and expanding our fields of cooperation, the momentum of rapid growth in our economic and trade relations can surely be maintained.
4. In terms of both its depth and scope, can you envisage the future trend in the development of economic and trade relations between China and Australia? What are the fields that you think would become sparkling spots for cooperation that would offer great opportunities for both sides?
Understandably, with the constantly developing China-Australia relations and enhanced mutual understanding, new opportunities and new fields for cooperation have kept on emerging. While the trade of commodities keeps expanding, service trade, mutual investments, joint-effort R&D and exchanges in technological and management experience are also on the increase in terms of their proportion in the bilateral economic and trade relations. Diversification and sustainable development will feature in the future trend of China-Australia economic and trade cooperation.
In fields such as energy mining, energy saving, environment protection, recent period has witnessed the great strides into the Australian markets made by the Chinese enterprises. China National Chemical Co. acquired all the shares of Qenos, Australia's only manufacturer of polythene with AUD232.5 million (about USD174 million), resulting in the largest acquisition project so far by a Chinese company in Australia. China's Harbin Power Station Engineering Co. Ltd. signed memorandum of cooperation with HRL Australia in relation to a joint project of