It’s a great pleasure to be in your company here in this most extraordinary of cities.
It is a very particular honour to be here as Prime Minister 50 years after Gough Whitlam became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China.
Establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic was one of Prime Minister Whitlam’s priorities when he came to power, followed by the signing of the first trade agreement between our two countries.
It was a turning point in the long story between our nations.
And the beating heart of our relationship is conversation. Australians and Chinese, talking to each other.
Few things help that better than travel to each other’s countries. To get a glimpse into each other’s lives and cultures, to see the places we have built, and the landscapes that have helped to shape us.
That is just one of the reasons tourism is so important.
In 2019, China was Australia’s No 1 tourism market. With the travel between China and Australia resuming this year we are so excited about the return of Chinese travellers – you have been greatly missed.
That’s why we launched our tourism global tourism campaign here. Our message to travellers is to ‘Come and Say G’day’ – to experience our unique natural beauty, to taste the flavours of Australia and, of course, to meet our people.
We look forward to welcoming you to Australia.
Tourism, of course, is one facet of the economic ties that are the keystone of our relationship.
China is our largest trading partner and will remain so for the foreseeable future, even as we – like all countries – work to diversify our trade.
Since the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement’s entry into force, Australian exports to China have more than doubled – while Chinese exports to Australia have increased by 78 per cent. This has benefitted businesses and consumers in both countries.
Our economic relationship has raised living standards for both of us.
Indeed the story of China’s development is extraordinary – and I’m proud to say Australia has been a part of that story.
Chinese consumers have long been enamoured with Australian goods and services – from our resources, to our high quality foods, to our education system.
Consumers here have high expectations – and they know they can be confident Australia will meet those expectations.
The ongoing strength of our economic partnership means we have a stake in China’s future success.
Foreign investment from China will also continue to contribute to Australia’s growth and the creation of Australian jobs.
Australia is committed to free, fair and open trade. And just as we welcome companies from all over the world, our companies want to compete on a level playing field no matter where they do business.
It is in both our countries’ interests for any impediments to be removed. Importantly, progress has been made, and I am pleased by China’s recent decisions on Australian barley and hay, and that we are now on a path to restore our wine trade.
But there is more work to do.
I am here to talk to my counterparts about where we can co-operate:
- To tackle climate change
- To innovate to deal with shared challenges in our agriculture sectors, and
- To build on our longstanding collaboration in the arts sector.
As we look to the future, we must always bear in mind how much we can do together.
In the 50 years since our two nations resumed their conversation, the relationship has grown and changed. But it remains a relationship based on respect, maturity, and mutual benefit.
Australia will co-operate where we can, disagree where we must and engage in our national interest.
Engaging is crucial. We will keep talking because dialogue is fundamental to building understanding and making our respective views clear.
Dialogue with China is vital to helping secure peace, prosperity and security in our region and globally, and to navigate the challenges and opportunities our region will face this century.
Our two nations have shown what we can do when we work together. We have shown it in the past, I know we can show it even more compellingly in the future.