Thank you Nancy for your kind introduction, Vice-Governor Gan Lin, Vice-Mayor Zhu Zhihing friends of Australia, friends of China.

Australia has had a diplomatic presence in China for over 40 years and our embassy opened in Beijing in 1973.

The fact that we now have a permanent Consul-General in Chengdu and the Sichuan Province indicates how far our relationship has developed over those 40 years.

Australia and China share a broad, strategic, economic, comprehensive relationship.

China is now Australia’s largest two-way trading partner with two-way trade valued at about $150 billion.

Over the last few days I have been in Beijing meeting with senior representatives of the Chinese Government including Foreign Minister Wang Yi and State Councillor Yang.

During the course of our discussions we have observed how strong and deep and diversified the Australia-China relationship has become.

The extent of our partnership is evidenced by the fact that Australia now has very strong relations with a number of provinces, particularly with Sichuan Province.

Indeed the trade between Australia and Sichuan Province is significant and as the southwest of China continues to grow, Australians continue to build relationships through companies, businesses and people in this part of China.

I’m particularly delighted that our Consulate-General office is in Chengdu for Chengdu is a sister city of my home town of Perth in Western Australia.

This morning I met with representatives of Australian businesses operating here in Chengdu and Chinese businesses operating in Australia.

This is part of the Australia-Sichuan Trade and Investment Roundtable, an initiative to promote greater trade and investment ties between Sichuan and Australia.

There are a significant number of Australian businesses well known in our country, but making a name for themselves here in the Sichuan Province who were represented at the roundtable today, including Place Design, ANZ Bank, Goodman and Rheem.

I hope there will be opportunities for many more Australian businesses to open offices here to continue the dynamic trading relationship between the Sichuan Province and Australia.

As with any dynamic and vital relationship it’s far more than just trade, commerce and investment

There are increasing ties in education, science fields, tourism and cultural exchange.

Australia is working very hard to encourage more people from Sichuan Province to come to Australia as tourists.

The strength of our relationship will be underpinned by the people-to-people links.

I’m particularly pleased that there are connections between Australian universities and universities here in the Sichuan Province.

Indeed, Nancy Gordon our Consul-General, has organised an initiative called the Panda-Koala English Speech Competition which gives young students an opportunity to write in English about the Australia-Sichuan relationship.

I feel very confident koalas and pandas will be friends! This symbolises the friendship between the Sichuan Province and Australia.

I am particularly pleased there are now direct flights from Chengdu to Melbourne, Australia on Sichuan Airlines.

This kind of connectivity is very important for the enduring nature of our relationship. It also gives our Consulate-General  more work to do!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be here today to open our permanent presence here in Chengdu in Square One on level 37.

I’m sure that the very best days of the Australia-China relationship lie ahead of us.

Allow me to declare open the permanent Australian Consulate-General office in Chengdu.

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