Australia and China: Great Potential and Great Prospects
Fudan University, Shanghai
Speech (check against delivery)
18 May 2010
Prof Qin Shaode, Party Secretary of Fudan University.
Australian Ambassador Geoff Raby.
Australian Consul General Tom Connor.
Distinguished guests. Ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you very much for that warm welcome.
I am very pleased to be making my second visit to China as Foreign Minister and my second visit to Shanghai, but my first to Shanghai as Foreign Minister.
I am also very honoured to have this opportunity to address the students and faculty of Fudan University.
Fudan enjoys a well-earned reputation as one of China's most prestigious institutions of learning and research.
I welcome the fact that Fudan and a number of Australia's leading universities have established wide-ranging and productive student and faculty exchanges and other collaborative agreements.
Fudan's Australian partners include the University of Sydney, Australia's oldest university.
In that respect, I welcome the presence here today from the University of Sydney of Professor Hans Hendrischke, the Director of the Confucius Institute and David Morris, Director of Government Relations.
Sydney University was the first University in Australia to teach Chinese language, and one of the first in the world to welcome Chinese students.
The University of Sydney has strong and well-established connections with China, including research partnerships across many disciplines.
Around 5,000 Chinese students currently study at the University of Sydney. The University is also a sponsor of the Australian pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, the opening of which occurred earlier today.
Fudan University and University of Sydney academics and students are working together in areas such as public health and medicine and the training of English teachers.
Through the Confucius Institute in Sydney, a joint project between the University of Sydney and Fudan, Australians are learning about the Chinese language and culture.
I am also particularly pleased to learn that, in partnership with Fudan University and other institutions, the University of Sydney will establish a new China Studies Centre on 1 January 2011 at its Sydney campus. It will draw on 88 research leaders with China expertise to establish the Centre.
This new centre will strengthen understanding between Australia and China through education and research, leadership development, dialogue and outreach, and practical joint projects.
It will build upon existing academic and research partnerships with China and invest in new areas of cross-disciplinary collaboration.
The China Centre aims to be a network for deeper and broader engagement with government, business and civil society, with a focus on local China beyond Beijing.
Australia and World Expo 2010
Expo 2010 is one of the main reasons I'm in Shanghai this week.
This morning I became the first Minister of the Australian Government to visit the Expo.
My visit involved a tour of the Expo and the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the Australian national pavilion.
I was very impressed by what I saw, especially how popular the Australian pavilion is proving to be with the Chinese people and international visitors.
If you want to know more about Australia, I highly commend the Australian Pavilion at the Expo.
With its striking design, engaging exhibits, live entertainment and friendly bilingual guides, it offers a unique opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and flavours of the modern Australia.
Shanghai and Australia
Another reason I've come to Shanghai is because this city plays such an important role in the commercial, financial, cultural and educational life of China.
I'm here because Australian business and investment interests are concentrated here.
In a meeting earlier today, I heard from senior Australian business people about their experiences doing business in this region.
I was encouraged by their sense of optimism about the Chinese economy, and by their very positive assessments of the Central Government's plans for Shanghai to become an international economic, financial, trade and shipping centre by 2020.
Your city clearly has a bright future. I'm sure many Fudan graduates are going to play key roles in shaping that future.
The Australia-China relationship
The Australia-China relationship is, by any measure, a comprehensive bilateral relationship.
It is one of Australia's most important and high profile bilateral relationships.
Its scale, depth and breadth are often, however, underappreciated, both in China and in Australia.
The economic dimension of our relationship is underpinned by profound and growing complementarities.
Mutual benefit as well as mutual dependence flow from these complementarities.
In 2009, China became Australia's largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at A$85 billion.
This growing trade, conducted in accordance with market principles, is unquestionably important to Australia.
It helps Australia maintain low unemployment. It contributes to Australia's prosperity.
This trade is also important to China, which increasingly looks to Australia as a reliable source for the diverse array of raw materials, energy and food China needs to sustain high rates of economic growth.
Two-way investment links are an increasingly prominent element of our economic relationship.
Australia maintains, as it has for many years, a consistent, open and welcoming stance towards foreign investment, wherever it comes from.
This policy is well known and of long-standing.
Australia has made itself into a well-developed and prosperous nation by being both a successful trading nation and an attractive place for foreign capital investment.
Australia's welcoming policy towards investment from China is borne out by the facts.
Since the Rudd Government came into office on December 2007, Australia has approved around A$60 billion (US$54 billion) of Chinese investment, including investment in Australian businesses and real estate investments.
Over 160 Chinese proposals to invest in Australian businesses have been approved during this period.
Only five of these 160 approvals involved undertakings, conditions or amendments.
None has been rejected.
Alongside our economic ties, our extensive people-to-people links provide a firm basis for the long-term development of the bilateral relationship.
Today China is an increasingly important source of both tourists and migrants to Australia.
In 2009, Chinese visitor arrivals to Australia surpassed 350,000.
Together, Chinese dialects are the second most commonly spoken language in Australia after English.
Our people-to-people links are made up of diverse networks and relationships.
Australia and China have established more than 75 sister city and sister state relationships.
Australian institutions of all kinds — Universities, scientific academies, cultural and sporting groups, professional associations and Non Government Organisations — are all forming partnerships with their counterparts in China.
This is a very welcome development, particularly in the context of Prime Minister Rudd's commitment to make Australia the most Asia-literate nation in the West.
It also underscores another point: Chinese are welcome in the modern multicultural and tolerant Australia.
Today Australia is home to 600,000 people of Chinese descent, with Chinese migration to Australia extending back as far as the 18th century.
Australians of Chinese heritage continue to make vital contributions in all walks of life, from sports to academia, from medicine to politics.
Education and training
Education and training links are an important element of the Australia-China relationship.
If you are considering continuing your education or research overseas, you need to give serious consideration to the benefits of an Australian education.
China is Australia's largest source of overseas students, with 154,000 enrolments in 2009, almost a quarter of all Australia's international student enrolments.
Last year 16 Chinese students came to Australia under Australia's prestigious Endeavour Scholarship awards, while 10 Australian students won Endeavour Scholarships to study in China.
In science and research collaboration, there are four Australia-China Joint Research Centres.
These research centres are undertaking research in areas where Australia and China have specific expertise and common interests — phenomics, stem cells, light metals and water resources.
Our bilateral relationship is also defined by our shared foreign policy interests — in supporting stability and prosperity in our own region and in addressing global challenges.
In the 21st century, the focus of global economic, strategic, political and military influence is shifting to the Asia-Pacific.
And in the 21st century, the security and economic challenges demand coordinated regional and global action.
It is in Australia's and China's national interests to strengthen our practical cooperation in a wide range of areas, working together and with others in the regional and international community to meet these challenges.
It is hard to think of a single international issue of importance to Australia where China is not a key player on the world stage.
In October last year, during Vice Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Australia, our countries issued a joint statement that set out some of our bilateral priorities and interests.
That statement committed Australia and China to “continue to strengthen communication and coordination” in multilateral and regional groupings, including the United Nations, G20, APEC, East Asia Summit, and the Pacific Islands Forum.
It also called for “enhanced consultation and cooperation” in responding to the global financial crisis, addressing climate change, controlling communicable diseases, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and combating transnational crime.
We are now implementing that.
We are working together in the WTO to secure the conclusion of the Doha Round, and in the G20 to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy.
Australia is committed to a positive, forward-looking and mutually beneficial relationship with China.
Our foreign policy approach to China reflects our values and virtues as well as our national interests.
We recognise that our two countries have different histories, different values, different societies and different political systems.
As a rule, China places a high priority on public unity and consensus.
Australia, on the other hand, is a robust Parliamentary democracy.
In Australia, our system of Government requires public debate.
In Australian politics we often have spirited disagreements. Policy alternatives can be weighed up in public and public views taken into account and decisions reached.
Australia and China sometimes have differences of view on important issues.
What is important is that we deal with those differences calmly, sensitively and appropriately.
This requires us to be aware of each other's interests and concerns, but also to be able to agree to disagree on the basis of mutual respect.
This is how we approach differences on sensitive issues, such as human rights.
Given the breadth of our shared interests and the scale of our bilateral relationship, it is vital for Australia and China to chart a steady course in the long term.
Australia recognises the historic changes that have taken place in China since the beginning of the reform and opening period, three decades ago.
After more than two decades of growth of around 10 per cent per year, up to 500 million people have been lifted out of poverty and nearly half of China's population now live in urban centres.
China has become the world's second largest economy and the world's third largest exporter of goods and services.
These developments mean that China is now a major stakeholder in and contributor to the current global order.
This has important implications and consequences for China's engagement with the world.
As a trading nation, China has a vested interest in the stability of world markets and in open international trade.
As a country committed to maintaining regional security, China has a special role to play in ending the stand-off over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
On climate change, Australia has taken note of China's commitments to a 20% energy intensity target in the current Five year plan and to 40–45% emissions intensity reduction by 2020 in the Copenhagen Accord.
China — as a country vulnerable to the impacts of global warming — is taking significant steps to address its own emissions reductions and develop renewable energy.
It is also appropriate that China — as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter — and as a country vulnerable to the adverse impacts of global warming — takes on a greater leadership role on climate change.
Australia understands the priority that China places on its own domestic economic growth.
Australia acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead for China's development, including managing environmental and population pressures.
Australia welcomes the significant economic and social progress China has made on many fronts, and we look forward to its continuation.
As China's economy grows, of course, so too will China's strategic influence.
China's growing strategic influence inevitably brings greater expectations of China taking up its rightful share of responsibility to contribute constructively to managing issues of regional and global concern.
On 23 April Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave a landmark speech on China.
In a speech, entitled “Australia and China in the World,” Mr Rudd noted there was “great interest throughout the world as to what role China sees for itself in the future.”
The Prime Minister called for a more balanced, mature and sophisticated approach to China — one that builds on a legacy of decades of Australian scholarship and engagement with China, and understands “China more deeply.”
He went on to describe Australia-China relations in terms of a sincere friendship.
And as true friends, he said, we needed to move beyond the old conceptual relic of the Cold War of either being anti-China or pro-China.
He said that genuine engagement needed to be based on trust, commitment and a frank and open dialogue.
I couldn't agree more.
I look forward to working closely with my Chinese counterpart Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on the basis of mutual respect and trust in the period ahead.
My visit is one of many high-level visits in both directions scheduled this year.
Last week I met with General Guo Boxiong, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission during his four day visit to Australia. General Guo also met with Prime Minister Rudd and Defence Minister Faulkner.
My colleague, Trade Minister Simon Crean, visits Shanghai later this week.
On the economic front, both countries are committed to a comprehensive, high quality, balanced and mutually beneficial bilateral Free Trade Agreement which serves the interests of Australia and China.
On the education front, as part of Australia's drive to promote 'China literacy' in Australia, Prime Minister Rudd recently announced the establishment of a new 'Australian Centre on China in the World' at the Australian National University.
Our aim is for it to become a pre-eminent global institution for the integrated understanding of contemporary China in all its dimensions, including China's regional and global engagement.
On the public diplomacy front, Australia — under the auspices of the Australia International Cultural Council — is mounting a Year of Australian Culture in China promotion in China in 2010-11.
This will be followed by a Year of Chinese Culture in Australia promotion in Australia in 2011-12.
Together these two programs will strengthen the already considerable cultural and people-to-people ties.
Finally, our two governments will jointly establish a new informal one and a half track dialogue to look at the entirety of the bilateral relationship.
This will be a forum that will bring together key business people, academics, senior officials and leaders to explore opportunities to forge deeper bilateral connections.
Looking back at what has been accomplished since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972, it is remarkable how far Australia-China relations have come.
Looking ahead, Australia's policies towards China will continue to be constructive and forward-looking, informed by our long-term strategic interests and our sense of optimism about this, the Asia-Pacific Century.
With far-sighted leadership in both capitals, with the goodwill of the Australian and Chinese people, and with the support of future leaders such as yourselves, I am confident the Australia-China relationship will continue to grow, fully reaching its great potential and its great prospects.