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Week's special: Cementing and developing friendly Australia-China ties

China and Australia have witnessed a rapid development in terms of bilateral ties such as in economic and trade cooperation, in education, and in tourism since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries thirty-five years ago. At the invitation of People's Daily Online, on May 29th, Australian ambassador to China, Dr. Geoffrey William Raby, paid a visit to the Strong China Forum in Beijing, during which he spoke freely about the current issues of common concern and answered questions raised by netizens on the subject of "Cementing and Developing Friendly Australian-China Relations."

Australia and China great cooperation partners

The ambassador regarded China and Australia as complementary in terms of economic cooperation, and the economic partnership between the two countries should be based on the availability of rich natural resources in Australia, and the great demand of raw materials and resources from China.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations thirty-five years ago, the economic trade relationship between the two countries has witnessed considerable development, particularly the volume of trade which has made great strides forward.

At present, Australia exports some 8 billion Australian dollars worth iron ore to China annually, taking up a considerable share of the total volume of trade between Australia and China.

Apart from cooperation in the above-mentioned sectors, there are also many new areas in which the two can collaborate. For example, they can work together in the environmental arena, particularly in the area of clean coal technology.

China has great demand for Australia's natural resources, and in 1998, China poured its initial batch of foreign investment into the establishment of an iron mine in West Australia in 1998. The ambassador voiced his confidence in the collaborative efforts of Australia and China in this area.

Tourism brings Australia and China closer

"First of all, I'd like to say, welcome to Australia!" said the ambassador humorously.

In the past ten years, more and more Chinese tourists have visited Australia. At present, the number of Chinese tourists in Australia has hit 400,000, and is growing steadily. Generally speaking, Chinese tourists stay much longer in Australia than tourists visiting from other countries do. Currently, Chinese tourists visit Australia mainly to go sightseeing, visiting such places as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, where they can enjoy sunshine, the beach, fresh air, and other things typically Australian.

China in the eyes of ordinary Australians

The ambassador noted that China is a large country, as well as an amazing "neighbour" in the eyes of Australians. Australians from all walks of life are willing to lend their support to China's growth and development. As a diplomatic messenger, the ambassador also voiced his eagerness to see the improvement of living conditions for the Chinese people.

"Chinese people are friendly, and China has a time-honored history and splendid culture. As far as I know, the first group of Chinese to settle in Australia dates back to some 150 years ago," the ambassador added.

As for the years of reciprocal exchange of cultural events, the ambassador recommended that cultural institutions take initiatives in organizing various cultural events such as one held last year in Sydney, featuring Chinese culture. The cultural exchange between Australia and China has always been very active and positive, and both individuals and private organizations have helped to facilitate the cultural exchanges.

Beijing to present the best ever Olympic Games

As for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, that have drawn the attention of the whole world, the ambassador said he believed Beijing would present the world with the best ever sporting event.

"Since we held the Games in Sydney years before, we fully understand the Chinese people will be passionate, proud and happy in preparing and hosting the 2008 Olympic Games," said the ambassador.

The ambassador also stated that apart from being an international sporting event, the Olympic Games also have a unique way of presenting the host country with an opportunity to demonstrate its extraordinary national traits and culture.

Since Australia and China share few similarities in terms of social patterns and historical background, the Beijing Olympic Games will definitely be different from the Olympics held in Sydney. However, they hold one thing in common: an ardent love for sports shown by the people of both countries.

A rosy picture for education, cultural cooperation

The ambassador said there were already three Confucius Institutes and that more will be established in the future; a move that will be very positive in promoting traditional Chinese culture and values in Australia. As China becomes more active in the international arena, increasingly more people will develop an interest in, and as a result learn about, Chinese culture and language.

As for the issue of education, there are currently some 70,000 Chinese students studying in Australia and 30,000 Chinese students studying in Australian-run academic institutions, bringing the total number of Chinese students who are receiving an Australian education to over 100,000.

For Chinese students who study in Australia, they enjoy favorable policies. For example, the Australian government permits students to apply for paid employment, which will consequently improve their living conditions. Many students consider Australia as their first choice when studying abroad, where they will enjoy cheap tuition and a sound academic environment. The ambassador further added that Australia welcomes Chinese and all foreign students to study in the country.

By People's Daily Online

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