MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
2 December 1997
TRAVEL TO CANADA, UNITED STATES, CHINA AND HONG KONG (SAR)
I will be travelling to Canada, the United States, China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) from 2-12 December.
In Canada I will, on behalf of Australia, sign the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction - also known as the Ottawa Treaty - when it is opened for signature in Ottawa on 3-4 December. Over 100 countries are expected to sign the Convention on that occasion.
During my brief visit to the United States from 5-6 December, I will address the Pacific Council of International Policy at the University of Southern California on the issue of meeting the challenges of the Asia Pacific region.
I will visit China from 7-12 December. My visit will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the communique establishing diplomatic relations between Australia and the People's Republic of China.
During my visit, my second to China since I became Foreign Minister, I will underline the importance the Government attaches to Australia's relationship with China. The Government's White Paper on Foreign and Trade Policy identifies our relationship with China as one of Australia's four priority relationships. There is no doubt that China's growth and renewed role in the region is a development of importance for Australia and the East Asia region.
The past 25 years have seen an extraordinary growth and expansion of our relationship with China. In 1972, bilateral trade totalled less than $A 160 million; last year, it exceeded $A 8 billion. We had little or no contact with China before 1972. We now have a strong political dialogue, with frequent and senior visits both ways. The Prime Minister completed a successful visit in late March during which he reaffirmed the importance of a strong and cooperative relationship based on mutual benefit and mutual respect.
In the last year alone this Government has established a series of new bilateral senior officials talks on human rights, defence, regional security (the first round of which will take place the day before my visit) and consular issues.
I look forward, in my talks with senior leaders in Beijing, to addressing the very full range of our bilateral, international and regional interests.
I will also take the opportunity to visit Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province, on this occasion.
I will visit Hong Kong (SAR) from 7-9 December, and again on 12 December. The main purpose of my visit is to open the `Face to Face' photographic exhibition on 8 December, showing the cultural diversity of Australia. I will also meet Hong Kong Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa and Democratic Party Chairman, Mr Martin Lee.
For further information contact: Innes Willox 02 6277 7500 /