(26 August, 2014)
Senator Sam Dastyari,
Dear friends from the Australian Parliament,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you at the Chinese Embassy. I wish to congratulate you on your election to the Parliament and express how happy I am to get acquainted with you all.
As a Chinese saying goes, “Don't forget the well-diggers when you drink from the well”. When it comes to the Australian Labor Party and China-Australia relations, I can’t help but think of former Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Gough Whitlam. As leader of opposition, he resolutely and determinedly paid a historic visit to China in July 1971 despite enormous pressure. China and Australia established diplomatic relations on 21 December 1972. Then in October 1973, he paid an official visit to China as Prime Minister. Mr. Whitlam is true founder and pioneer for China-Australia relations. He led the Australian Labor Party in making historic contribution to the development of bilateral ties.
Over the past 42 years, China-Australia relations have made huge progress. Last year when former Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard visited China, the two countries established strategic partnership, leaders’ annual meeting mechanism and important fameworks such as the diplomatic and strategic dialogue and strategic economic dialogue, elevating bilateral relations to a new high. For many years in a row, China has been Australia’s largest trading partner, and largest source of trade surplus. Last year, two-way trade between China and Australia exceeded AUD150 billion, among which Australian export to China reached AUD100 billion. It is estimated that one out of every three dollars of Australian export goes to the China. Fifty-four out of every 100 tones of China’s imported iron ore come from Australia. According to the ACBC, export to China has added AUD13,400 to the annual income of each Australian household, equivalent to earning a new car by each household every year. Bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the people-to-people, educational, local and defense fields have also made significant progress. Last year, there were 220,000 Chinese students studying in Australia, second only to the number of Chinese students going to America. Every year, more than 1.5 million visits were made between the two countries. Furthermore, there are now more than 90 pairs of sister cities and state/provinces between the two countries. China and Australia have also carried out close cooperation in the search for the Malaysian Airlines MH370 and on major international and regional issues. China supports Australia’s role as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and host of the G20 Brisbane Summit.
The journey of bilateral relations in the past 42 years shows that a sound China-Australia relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples, but also contributes to peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. China-Australia friendship, a concept already deep-rooted in the hearts and minds of both the Chinese and Australian people, is in keeping with the trend of the times. No individual or organization could deny or block it. Of course, we should not lose sight of the differences between the two countries on some issues, which is only natural when taking into account our differences in history, culture, political system and development stage. China and Australia have no fundamental conflict of interests. Our common interests far outweigh differences. Our bilateral ties have big potential and enjoy bright prospects. I strongly believe that as long as we respect and treat each other equally, accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, and properly handle differences through dialogue, China-Australia ties will continue to advance on a solid footing.
All of you present today are elite members of the Labor Party, including veteran politicians, outstanding youth leaders, famous social activists and knowledgeable policy advisors, representing the interests and voices of different communities and sectors of the Australian society. China and Australia have close party-to-party and inter-parliamentary ties, which have been part and parcel of bilateral relations, playing a unique and positive role for deeper mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries. At present, China-Australia ties are at an important stage of building on past progress and ushering into the new era. I welcome you to visit China for better understanding of the country and experience the Chinese people’s goodwill toward the Australian people by yourself. I hope you could continue to care for and support the development of bilateral ties. I also look forward to welcoming and hosting you more in the Chinese Embassy and listening to your views and insights on China-Australia relations. Let us work together for greater progress for the China-Australia strategic partnership!