In three years as Chinese ambassador to Australia, I have witnessed the rapid development of China-Australia relations. Forty years after our two countries established diplomatic relations, a strategic partnership and the annual leaders meeting are important milestones in the development of bilateral ties.
China-Australia co-operation has yielded fruitful results across the past three years. Bilateral trade grew by 38.8 per cent from $US88.1 billion in 2010 to $US122.3bn last year. Australian exports to China grew by 38.9 per cent from $US60.9bn to $US84.6bn. A recent report from the Australia China Business Council shows that each Australian household benefits to the tune of $14,500 a year from bilateral trade with China.
China’s demand for mineral products such as iron ore, coal and copper remains strong despite the impact of the global financial crisis. Between 2009 and last year, Australia’s export of these products to China increased by 11.3 per cent, 30.7 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively. Australian exports of meat, wheat and cotton to China had an even more stellar performance, rising by 147 per cent, 215 per cent and 319 per cent respectively across the past three years.
Finance, tourism and education also have grown strongly. After signing the bilateral currency swap agreement in March last year, the central banks of the two countries opened direct trading of currencies in April, making it easier for people and businesses to use each other’s currency.
Last year alone, 729,000 Chinese tourists chose Australia as the first stop in their travels, an increase of 33.7 per cent compared with 2010. China has become the largest contributor to Australia’s tourism revenue and third largest contributor of tourists. On average, each Chinese tourist spends more than $6000 in Australia.
Despite higher costs due to the strong Australian dollar, the number of Chinese studying in Australia has risen from 160,000 in 2010 to 210,000 last year. Each student spends more than $20,000 a year, on average, boosting Australian industries such as education, housing and retail.
China-Australia co-operation spans all states. For example, China is the biggest trading partner for NSW, which exported $6.07bn worth of goods there last year, an average annual growth of 21.9 per cent for the past five years. Chinese coal projects such as Yanzhou Coal Mining in NSW used technical innovations to avoid the closure of old coalmines, saving hundreds of jobs.
Last year, China and Queensland trade reached $13.26bn, an increase of 16.5 per cent on a year-on-year basis. Chinese companies such as CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC are involved in the development of Queensland liquefied natural gas. The Pacific LNG project has created 6000 local jobs. Recently, China Southern Airline began direct flights from Guangzhou to Brisbane and Cairns, further helping trade and cultural ties. The China-Australia free trade agreement negotiation also has made progress.
Co-operation in the past three years has also matured. Our countries are more interdependent and our interests more intertwined. These achievements were only possible thanks to the concerted efforts of both governments and people at various levels.
As I bid Australia farewell I am confident that, as long as both sides work together, we can create an even better future.Chen Yuming is the outgoing Chinese ambassador to Australia Source: The Australian – China-Australia friendship keeps blooming
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