FOREIGN MINISTER JULIE BISHOP I am delighted to welcome to Sydney and to Australia Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the delegation from China. It is indeed an honour to have the Foreign Minister visit for the second Australia–China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue.

We are very pleased to be meeting at this time, for President Xi Jinping will be visiting Australia in November. We very much look forward to welcoming President Xi to Australia, and our meeting today in part will be an opportunity to discuss the visit. It will be a very important occasion for Australia to have President Xi visit us.

The strength of our relationship is evidenced by the high level meetings that have occurred recently including Prime Minister Abbott’s very successful visit to China in April.

The Australia-China relationship is strong, it is mature and it is growing. Today we will have an opportunity to further deepen and broaden our relationship as we discuss a wide range of topics. Our strategic partnership is based on the fact that we have a very strong economic relationship, for China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner. We are on track to sign a free trade agreement with China later this year which will further strengthen this relationship.

We have a very dynamic and robust people-to-people relationship as evidenced by the fact China will join Australia’s New Colombo Plan next year which will see Australian students living and studying in China.

While Australia and China are able to embrace many exciting opportunities we also meet at a time of great global challenge. The conflict in Syria and Iraq affects both our nations, for foreign fighters are leaving our shores to take part in the brutal and bloody conflict in the Middle East.

Australia and China will stand firm against terrorism and extremism, and our meeting today affords us an opportunity to discuss ways that we together can combat terrorism and extremism such as we’ve seen with the emergence of ISIL.

Personally I’m delighted to welcome the Foreign Minister here. We have had a number of very productive, constructive, comprehensive meetings in recent months and today affords us another opportunity to talk about matters of shared interest, our common approach to many challenges and of course deepening this relationship that is very much based on mutual respect.

FOREIGN MINISTER WANG YI It’s my great pleasure to come to Australia at the invitation of Foreign Minister Bishop to attend the second China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue.

Australia is a regional power with international influence and it is a key cooperation partner for China in its extended neighbourhood. China welcomes and supports Australia to further understand Asia and to integrate into Asia and of course would also like Australia to play an active role as a bridge and a link between the East and the West.

China and Australia have different histories, different cultural traditions and different social systems but it is because of all the difference that the world is such a colourful and dynamic place.

Ancient Chinese wisdom teaches that two gentlemen with different characters can have a harmonious relationship. Given all the differences it is still possible for us to admire each other and embrace each other and seek a higher level of agreement on longer term goals. And China and Australia can do just that - recognise our differences and go beyond our differences, try to understand each other and respect each other and on that basis show greater mutual trust and mutual support. China may not be Australia’s closest friend at the moment but we can surely become your most sincere friend.

The China-Australia relationship is in good shape and I fully agree with the Foreign Minister’s assessment of our relationship. For many years China has been Australia’s largest economic and trading partner. And in recent years China has become Australia’s largest source of international students and largest source of tourism revenue. Our cooperation is broadening and the interests of our two nations are increasingly intertwined.

I’m coming to Australia this time to attend the second Foreign and Strategic Dialogue. In this dialogue I look forward to working with Foreign Minister Bishop and the Australian side to discuss ways to consolidate and keep our mutually beneficial cooperation in the various traditional fields but at the same time we hope to identify new areas of cooperation that will help take forward our relationship for years to come. And most importantly we look forward to deepening our political trust and carry out strategic cooperation so that we can lay a solid foundation and provide more lasting driving force for the longer term and more stable growth of our relationship.

For the China-Australia relationship to really take off like a bird it needs the two wings - one mutual benefit, the other mutual respect. Only with both can our relationship soar higher and go farther.

And for that purpose I would like to work with the Foreign Minister and with the Australian side to have an in-depth discussion on a new definition for our strategic partnership, a new blueprint for our trade and investment cooperation and a new plan for our people-to-people and cultural interactions.

Just now the Foreign Minister mentioned that President Xi Jinping will visit Australia later this year and to attend the G20 Leaders’ Meeting in November and we have already received a formal invitation from the Australian side for President Xi to pay a state visit to Australia in conjunction with that. And I’ve just heard the Foreign Minister reaffirming the welcome that Australia will extend to my President. Thank you for that.

We look forward to working with our Australian colleagues in that direction and to prepare the ground well for the Presidential visit so as to make sure my President’s historic visit to Australia will be a resounding success. That the visit will, not just help to take this relationship to the next level, but also be an opportunity for our two countries to contribute to peace and development in our region and the world at large.

Thank you all.

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