Sino-Aussie ties warmer as Gillard visits China

08:28, April 27, 2011      

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Relations between China and Australia get a boost when the two countries' prime ministers agreed to forge closer trade and investment links, for the benefits of tens of millions in the two biggest Asia-Pacific states.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao told visiting Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Beijing yesterday that the two countries ought to set up “long-term and stable strategic cooperative relationship”.

"Our relationship with China is in good shape," Gillard told reporters. "Of course, our economic relationship is a vital one for Australia's national interest, and it is growing in leaps and bounds."

Gillard said her talks focused on trade and investment, and also speeding up negotiations on a free trade agreement.

Under the auspicious of the two leaders, ministers of the two governments signed signed a series of cooperation agreements, which are intended to strengthen economic ties. The deals signed cover cooperation in trade, tourism, science and mining.

China buys more than a quarter of Australian exports, having overtaken Japan as the country's largest trading partner in 2009. Two-way annual trade has now passed A$100 billion (US$107 billion), up from A$57 billion in 2009.

Opening their discussions, Wen reaffirmed the importance of China's relations with Australia, saying that "we have always seen Australia as an important partner in our win-win relationship".

He also encouraged bilateral cooperation in the research, development and utilization of new, clean and renewable energy, and in the fields of information networks, rail systems and ports.

Gillard's trip is her first to China since taking her post in June and seeks to set a new tone for relations following some spats over human rights and Chinese businesses' investment in Australia under her predecessor, current Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

Gillard said that Australia welcomes more Chinese students and tourists and greater investment, despite a number of controversial incidents in the past.

In 2009, China Nonferrous Metals Mining Group Co Ltd was blocked by Australian government from buying a controlling stake in rare earths miner Lynas Corp.

Australia also stymied China Minmetals Corporation's bid for Oz Minerals' Prominent Hill copper and gold mine because the mine was believed to be too close to a defense rocket range.

Gillard is the first Australian prime minister to visit China in three years.
By People's Daily Online
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