MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER




FA 83
22 August 1996


AUSTRALIA AND CHINA AGREE ON AUSTRALIAN CONSULATE-
GENERAL IN HONG KONG AFTER JULY 1, 1997


Australia and China have today initialled an agreement on Australia's Consulate-General in Hong Kong after 1 July, 1997.

I am delighted that Australia is one of the first countries with a substantial presence in Hong Kong to have settled this important matter.

In reaching this agreement, Australia and China are recognising the mutual interest we have in Australia's continuing presence and representation in Hong Kong.

The return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty is a significant event for China, Hong Kong and the region.

Australia has a long, rich and diverse relationship with Hong Kong. Our relationship has grown to the point where Hong Kong is Australia's eighth largest export market and home to more than 30,000 Australians.

The agreement the Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and I have reached today is evidence of the great future of this relationship and reflects Australia's long-term commitment to Hong Kong.

Australia believes this agreement provides a sound basis for this relationship into the future and for the contribution Australia and Australians make to Hong Kong's continuing prosperity.

With more than 350 Australian companies represented in Hong Kong, it is a major business centre for us and, in particular, a vital element in our commercial relationship with China.

In 1995-6 Australian exports to Hong Kong grew by 16 per cent to more than A$3 billion. Hong Kong and Australia are also major sources of investment in each others' economies.

Australia has also recently become the number one destination for Hong Kong students enrolling in universities overseas.

Our agreement today strengthens and deepens these strong links which I am confident will continue to grow in the future.

(The agreement was initialled today in the presence of China's Foreign Minister, Mr Qian Qichen, and Mr Downer, by China's Assistant Foreign Minister, Mr Yang Jiechi, and the Australian Ambassador to China, Mr Ric Smith.)

BEIJING