Chinese vice president's visit boosts Sino-Australian ties: media

07:45, June 22, 2010      

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The relationship between China and Australia is expected to be further boosted with over 20 documents of cooperation signed during the visit of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, Australia's media reported on Monday.

"The high-level visit of Xi and hundreds of aides has made it clear how keen the two countries are to do business," the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported after the announcement of the deal in Canberra on Monday.

According to AAP, Chinese companies will build mines, railways and port facilities in Australia under a series of deals.

The new agreements are not only in the resources and energy sectors, but also include telecommunications, education and a quarantine protocol for exporting Tasmanian apples to China.

Under one deal, Chinese companies will help fund an 8-billion-U. S.-dollar coal mine, railway and coal-loading terminal near Bowen in Queensland.

The deal would yield 4 billion Australian dollars (3.53 billion U.S. dollars) in exports each year for 25 years, Rudd said.

Another deal commits Chinese experts and engineers to work on the expansion of Fortescue's iron ore projects in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which Rudd said will be worth 5 billion Australian dollars (4.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year in exports.

China Development Bank will also provide 1.2 billion U.S. dollars for a joint venture to build a new port and rail facilities at Oakajee in Western Australia, and invest in Aquila's coal and iron ore projects in the Pilbara.

"This demonstrates the dynamic relations between the two countries in this sector, and the strong complementarity of the two economies," Rudd said in a statement.

AAP said China is Australia's largest trading partner, and its investment on iron ore and natural gas helped keep Australia out of the global recession.

According to ABC Radio, with new agreements signed, and cordial words exchanged, Xi's visit to the Australian capital has " delighted political and business leaders of both countries."

"Vice President Xi has delivered much needed political impetus to the difficult Australia-China free trade negotiations," ABC Radio said.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Xi's visit was a signal that the Australia-China relationship had matured to the point where problems could be worked through.

Smith also said Xi's five-day trip indicated that "some of the difficulties and tensions that we had last year really are now behind us and we're both taking a long-term view of the relationship."

The report said not all of the deals involve resources. Under the agreement, a new quarantine arrangement will allow for Tasmanian apples to be exported to China, while other deals aim at cooperation in education and telecommunications.

"In good news for the industry, it has eased a number of bio- security restrictions which previously made it unviable for Tasmanian growers to export to China," Lucy Gregg, Business Development Manager with Fruit Growers Tasmania, told ABC News.

The Chinese vice president said China and Australia had a lot to offer each other. He also pressed for swift progress on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

"This could mean sweeping changes for sectors like manufacturing and agriculture, as well as for foreign investment and resource exports," AAP wrote, adding that the 15th round of free trade negotiations between China and Australia will take place in China later this year.

On Tuesday, Xi will fly to Darwin, capital city of Australia's Northern Territory, where he will be welcomed by an indigenous ceremony. He is scheduled to visit Kakadu to take a cruise and inspect indigenous rock drawings.



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