(29 May 2012)
The Hon Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Opposition,
The Hon Coalition Members and Senators,
Let me first thank Ms Julie Bishop for the kind invitation.
It's a pleasure for me to join you all at this Conversation in Diplomacy and to exchange views with you.
I highly appreciate the importance the Coalition attaches to China-Australia relations and the important contribution you have made over the years.
I am ready to work with you to promote greater development of our relations.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic relations.
In the past 40 years, our relationship has withstood the test of time and the ups and downs of the international situation.
We have travelled a momentous course and made historic achievements.
First, both the Chinese and Australian governments place great importance on bilateral relations and have maintained regular exchanges at both the top and other levels.
Each year a member of China's top leadership came to visit Australia.
All the Australian prime ministers since the opening of diplomatic ties have visited China and the ministerial visits from Australia to China are simply too many to count.
We have put in place a full set of dialogue platforms that include strategic dialogue, inter-party exchanges, high-level economic dialogue, strategic defense consultation and human rights dialogue.
We have also maintained good communication and coordination at the UN, G20, EAS and other international and multi-lateral mechanisms.
Second, we have unlocked the great potentials of our economic complementarities and set new records in mutually beneficial cooperation.
Our trade volume has increased by 1,000 times to over 100 billion US dollars in 40 years, making China Australia's largest trading partner, export market and source of imports.
Our mutual investment is growing fast.
We are now each other's important source of overseas investment.
In addition to our traditional cooperation in energy and resources, we have recently signed a currency swap agreement worth 30 billion Australian dollars and an MOU on infrastructure cooperation.
China is also Australia's fastest growing export market for dairy and wine products.
Third, the rapidly growing people-to-people exchanges have cut short the distance between our peoples and brought our hearts and minds ever closer.
An Australian scholar once said to me that 30 years ago, he dared not tell his family and friends he was traveling to China.
Now, China is Australia's largest source of international students and fastest growing source of overseas visitors.
Each year over a million visits are made between our two sides.
And the "cultural year" we have successfully held in each other's country has taken the people-to-people exchanges to a new height.
The fundamental reason that China-Australia relations have grown so rapidly in the past 40 years is that we have broad and important common interests.
In the "Asian century", our common interests will grow even bigger and spur further growth of our relations.
At the same time, we need to enhance strategic mutual trust and cement the political foundation of our relations, for it holds the key to faster and better growth of China-Australia relations in the next 40 years.
We want to do business. But we can't do business only. Without mutual trust, we can't do business well either.
If China-Australia relations is a plane, it needs both a robust engine and a broad and strong body to fly well. Otherwise, it will be bumpy and unsafe at times of turbulences.
As to how to enhance strategic mutual trust, I would like to make two observations:
First, we need to take a rational view of each other's strategic intention and should not see each other as a threat or a rival.
China welcomes Australia playing an active and constructive role in regional and international affairs.
Australian leaders have also stated on many occasions that China's development is good for Australia, the region and the whole world.
China is committed to the path of peaceful development. It strives to secure a peaceful international environment for its development, and, in turn, contributes to world peace through its development.
Historically, hegemonism is never part of Chinese culture.
Our territory today is about the same size as in the Western Han Dynasty over 2,000 years ago.
We didn't pursue hegemony even during our prime time of the Tang Dynasty when China's GDP took up one third of the world.
In recent years, China has resolved almost all the border issues with its neigbours through diplomatic means.
We also advocate peaceful settlement of territorial water disputes through dialogue and consultation.
China considers Australia a partner for comprehensive cooperation and believes that Australia can take an objective and rational view of China's foreign policies and development orientation.
Second, we need to work together to build a peaceful and inclusive security order in the Asia-Pacific, not the opposite.
China never seeks or carves out spheres of influence.
We are against building an exclusive regional order and wish to live in peace and work closely with other countries to build a cooperative, prosperous and stable Asia Pacific.
China will not do things harmful to other countries' interests and expects others to respect its legitimate interests and requests.
It is important for Asia-Pacific countries to enhance mutual trust and promote regional and common security through cooperation, rather than blindly pursue military alliance at the cost of the security interests of other nations.
This is of vital importance to the future of Asia-Pacific countries and the Asia-Pacific situation.