I would like to acknowledge members of parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Chinese communities here and other distinguished guests for attending today’s reception. My thanks also go to my embassy colleagues for their hard work and thoughtful arrangements.
Two and a half years ago, when my wife and I arrived at Sydney Airport early in the morning on 29 August 2013, I had a firm and strong conviction that I, as the 13th Chinese Ambassador to Australia, would do my best and contribute my share in promoting the steady and sound development of China-Australia relations, to the benefit of our two peoples.
Today, when I am about to leave the country, what I want to say most is that I have every confidence in this relationship. Two and a half years is just like a split of a second. But I do have a lot of fond memories and I enjoyed each and every meaningful day of the past 889 days here.
In the past two and half years, I witnessed President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Australia. It was broadly recognized as a very successful historic visit that had helped the two countries establish a comprehensive strategic partnership, marking a new high in our relations. I witnessed the conclusion of the 10 year long negotiations for the China-Australia free trade agreement.
I witnessed China becoming Australia’s largest trading partner for 9 years running, largest export market, largest destination for agricultural and services exports, and largest source of imports, trade surplus, new foreign investment, new migrants, tourism value and overseas students. It shows the high level of China-Australia relations.
On 19 November 2014, when President Xi was about to leave Sydney concluding his state visit, he said that China-Australia relations had never been better. It is true today our relations are as high, broad and deep as ever.
When Australia ran into economic difficulties in 2008, it was China’s robust demand that had ushered in a mining boom for the country. Australia was among the lucky few that had gone through the global financial crisis unscathed. When the global economy was confronted with yet another challenge in 2013, it was negotiations on free trade agreements like ChAFTA that had lent fresh impetus to the Australian economy. We are expecting an agriculture boom, infra-structure boom and services boom in this country. In 2014, China-Australia annual trade volume totaled 150 billion Australian dollars and China’s investment here already hit 100 billion Australian dollars. Australia has already become the second largest destination of China’s overseas investment. Chinese companies not only channeled new investment here, but also increased welfare for the local and aboriginal communities.
At the same time, Australian products are very much well-received among Chinese consumers. China has an enormous demand for Australian products. Australia has contributed to and benefited from China’s success and it continues to have such a role to play for its own good.
Cooperation benefits both countries. Australia has played a major role in China’s reform and opening up endeavor. The restructuring of the Chinese economy will bring both challenges and opportunities to the Australian economy. Opportunities are always there and the only question mark is on whether you can seize it or not. Opportunities lie in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, in the implementation of China’s Silk Road Initiative, in the day-to-day life of the Chinese people and in the development of the North of Australia.
It might not be easy to find two countries as different as China and Australia. We differ in history, culture and institutions. We even live in different hemispheres. It would be hard to imagine that we could see eye to eye on all issues. On the other hand, we all live on the same planet and we do have broad common interests. We have seen mutual understanding and trust on the increase. 240,000 Chinese students are now studying in Australia and over one million Chinese tourists visit the country this year. Seeing is believing. They play a bridging role in enhancing understanding between the two peoples.
I am convinced as long as we work in the same direction with good will, respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and concerns, talk candidly and increase understanding, we can reduce and resolve differences and build a better future for China-Australia relations.
I would like to thank all my friends and colleagues who are committed to our relations and who have selflessly helped me in my duty. I am more than proud to have lived and worked through this amazing part of history in our relations with all of you.
May I wish a stronger China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and everlasting friendship between our two peoples.