MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
7 July 1999
Visit To China
From 11-16 July, I will visit China, including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Discussions will be held with my host, China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, and a number of other Chinese leaders in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Australia's bilateral relations with China are currently at their most constructive since formal diplomatic relations were established in 1972. Prime Minister Howard's visit to China in March 1997 made significant progress on security and human rights issues and my visit presents an opportunity to further develop the bilateral relationship.
A key objective will be to build on the already substantial dialogue established between the two Governments. The Asian economic crisis has demonstrated not only our common interests and concerns in the Asia Pacific region, but also the contribution Australia and China can make to maintaining regional stability.
Ways to advance our bilateral trade relationship with China will also be on the agenda. China is Australia's fifth largest merchandise trade partner and our seventh largest export market. Recent successes include the in-principle conclusion of our bilateral market access negotiations relating to China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Australia's recognition as an officially approved destination for Chinese tourists and the agreement on a model wool contract during Mr Fischer's visit to China in May as Minister for Trade. My visit will build on these achievements and further promote Australia's capabilities in areas as diverse as liquified natural gas (LNG) and financial services.
My visit to Hong Kong takes place
at a time of economic and political challenge for the Special
Administrative Region, which recently celebrated the second anniversary
of its return to Chinese sovereignty. Hong Kong is an important
base for Australia's business interests in China and the region.
It is our eighth largest export market and third largest source
of foreign investment. Some 45,000 Australians live and work
in Hong Kong. I will be underlining Australia's continuing high-level
commitment to the bilateral relationship through my meetings
with the Acting Chief Executive Anson Chan, the newly appointed
Convener of the Executive Council C Y Leung, the Acting Chief
Justice Ching, and the business community.
Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Tony Melville 02 6261 1555
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