Joint Press Conference after fruitful talks between Premier Wen Jiabao and Primer Minister John Howard
Visiting Woodside Hydrocarbon Research Facility, Perth
Fu Ying Sydney 2006-4-11
Thank you Mark Toohey (the Chair),
Minister Cai Wu,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
First I want to join Mr. Mark Toohey in thanking all those people who have worked very hard to make this forum possible.
I also want to express our appreciation to the co-organizers of the Forum: Australia-China Business Council and Global Televisions Limited.
Our appreciations also go to the Hong Yang Industry, Omnilab Group, Pheonix TV and Intercontinental Hotel, which are our sponsors
For today's topic, I want to focus on the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's successful visit to Australia last week.
In his 53 hours in Australia, he had 19 official functions, including substantive talks with federal and state leaders, and visiting industry and research projects.
My feeling is that this visit will be recorded in both countries as an important political dialogue, at a key juncture of our relations, on how we understand each other, and where our relations is heading for.
As was observed by Prime Minister John Howard: of all the important relationships Australia has with other countries, none has undergone a greater transformation over the last decade or more, as has the relationship with China.
Many feel the changes. Our trade, tourists and students have all grown by three folds in 6 years. The transformation is not only reflected in the traffic of exchanges, but also in our views of each other.
Premier Wen took an interview with the Australian before coming here. It was a very comprehensive talk by a Chinese leader on relations with Australia. Many are encouraged when he said: together our two nations have a prosperous future.
It was very clear during the visit that, there is also consensus on both sides of the Australian political spectrum that the fast growth of China is seen as a positive development for Australia and for the world.
This gives the two countries a high degree of comfort in deciding where our relations should go.
Premier Wen proposed for the two countries: to build cooperation partnership in the 21 century.
He also suggested for the two sides to have regular leaders meeting, to speed up FTA negotiations, to expand exchanges in science & research, education and culture, and to have closer coordination on regional and international affairs.
Prime Minister Howard responded positively and added his ideas about how to move our relations forward.
Their fruitful discussions were reflected in the 8 documents signed during the visit.
Among them, the one on the peaceful use of nuclear energy seem to have got most of the media coverage.
For China, the signing of the two documents has opened the way for commercial negotiations, which will take place at some later stage. Australia has a good legal environment and rich reserves. It is therefore one of the options for China when considering uranium import.
According to our 11th Five Year Guidelines, nuclear power will grow from 2 to 4% in the national energy mix, which would probably need 30 new nuclear power plants in the next 10-15 years and the import of uranium will be arranged accordingly. We have not yet made any plan to invest in Australia's uranium mines.
As this is a strategic trading, when making a decision, we have to carefully examine both the hard and soft environment for the purchase, taking into account the acceptance level of the local government and people.
Premier Wen emphasized on quite a few occasions that the uranium we import would be used only for peaceful purposes and that we will keep to our commitments and international obligations.
Premier Wen was also interested in look for partnership with Australia on other renewable energies.
The 6 economic documents signed at the meeting between Minister Vaile and Makai are of no less importance. They cover wide areas and the total value involved amounts to 5.4 billion Aus $.
For example, one of the documents was on the purchase by China National Chemical Corporation (CNCC) of Qenos producing polyethylene, which I visited in March.
It is interesting to observe the psychological atmosphere around China mergers in the world. Should it be a good deal, there would be political obstacles and if China got it, it maybe a worthless project.
But I found this is a sound purchase. Apart from making profit, it is a well-managed plant. Its 1237 days of no casually record on the day of my visit was impressive. Its equipments and technology spread from 1960s to 1990s, and all of them are functioning well. Its environmental standard is high too.
By purchasing the plant, CNCC not only will make profit, but also learn and copy its management skills in CNCC plants in China.
The reason they won over many other bidders is because it wanted to run the plant not to resell it, which was important for the plant and its 900 workers.
The Harbin Power Engineering Company's agreement with HRL is on IDGCC power plant in Melbourne. It is a commercial test plant with the technology of cleaner use of brown coal. Its success will enable the partners to reproduce it in China and other parts of the world.
The Weppa Aurukun bauxite project will be the largest resources investment from China.
The significance of these deals is that they herald a new era for our relations. I will not be surprise if investments grow in both directions in the coming years.
One issue often raised with China is the status of state owned enterprises. Maybe I should explain a bit about why many years after reform the state owned enterprises remain a big part of our economy.
In the late 80s and early 90s, there was consistent effort to reform the state owned enterprises and their management and financial responsibility are completely reversed to follow the rules of market economy.
However, the ownership transfer has been a point of debat