China Advanced Leadership Program

Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)


4 November 2013

Good morning, I'm pleased to join you this morning and welcome you to Canberra. Your visit highlights the importance of the relationship between our two countries.

Ambassador Ma, I also acknowledge Mr Yao Yaping, as the head of your delegation and a member of Provincial Standing Committee of Communist Party of China.

Also Vice-Minister and Deputy Head of Delegation, Mr Hu, and my thanks to Professor Allan Fels for convening this program and allowing public sector leaders from both Australia and China to learn more about each other.

And, in welcoming all of you to Australia, I express my hope that this visit is an intellectually-stimulating and professionally valuable experience.

In just four years, the China Advanced Leadership Program has brought together more than 100 public service leaders from Australia, China and New Zealand and has embedded itself as an important part of our bilateral relationship.

As global power increasingly shifts to our region, programs like this are increasingly important – as they allow professional relationships and understanding to be built between partners in the region.

It's just one example of the growing and evolving nature of the ties between our countries.

The new Coalition Government is resolute in its determination to broaden, deepen and diversify the Australia-China relationship.

The Australia-China story is one of vision – from our political leaders, as well as those in business, education and the broader community.

In the 40 years since China and Australia established diplomatic relations, we have built a relationship based on shared desire to deepen our economic, political, cultural and social connections.

Just one example – but possibly the most striking – is the enormous growth in our trade relationship.

China is now Australia's largest trading partner with two-way trade in goods and services valued at over $125 billion last year.

There are around 120,000 Chinese international students studying in Australia – far more than from any other country.

And China is also the second-largest country of origin for skilled migrants to Australia.

And at the political level too, our relations have evolved.

We have established a new bilateral architecture that includes an annual Leaders-level Dialogue between the Australian Prime Minister and the Chinese Premier to provide strategic direction to the relationship.

These bilateral arrangements will strengthen the existing framework of consultations and enable both countries to identify new areas of engagement and manage differences more effectively.

Australia and China also share extensive engagement in regional and global institutions.

The East Asia Summit, Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus, and the United Nations – because we are currently serving as a non-permanent member of the Security Council – and we currently work together to ensure strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

We depend on the effective and resilient global economic governance system, which both China and Australia are helping to strengthen through the G20, APEC and WTO.

But in an increasingly-interconnected and highly-mobile world the relationship is not only forged through diplomatic agreements and multilateral meetings.

Our countries are lucky that our relations are also driven by organisations outside government – by business, by educational institutions, by our cultural organisations and by our civil society.

However, it is the responsibility of government - at all levels – to foster a favourable environment to realise the endless opportunities that exist.

It's in this area that you all have so much to contribute, and I hope the experience of this program will give you some new skills to do so.

Just one example of the natural partnership between our countries is the commodities industry – chiefly iron ore.

Australia's role as a reliable supplier of natural resources has helped China sustain its urbanisation.

China's demands have helped boost Australia's our economy and grow our resources industry.

It's a win-win.

China's extraordinary growth, together with the complementarity of our economies and the quality of our business contacts, has made Australia a key supplier minerals, energy, and increasingly, agricultural products and services to China.

But we are always looking for new ways to diversify our economic relationship and identify and develop new areas of engagement.

Increasingly, this involves providing professional and specialist services.

For example, the Australian company, Marshall Day Acoustics, has been appointed as the acoustics consultant for the Jiangsu Grand Theatre project in Nanjing.

The company has already provided acoustic design services to the Tianjin Concert Hall in the north and the Sichuan Theatre project in Chengdu in the west.

Tourism is also forming a growing part of our services trade.

Last year, China overtook the United Kingdom as Australia's second largest inbound travel market as more than 620 thousand Chinese tourists visited our country, and they are very welcome.

We are hoping that Australia and China are able to conclude a Free Trade Agreement in the very near future, to further strengthen our economic and trade relationship. And we note with some envy that our friends from New Zealand have had a Free Trade Agreement with China since 2008.

Many of you would also be well aware that our relationship extends far beyond just Beijing and Canberra.

Earlier this year the Australia-Guangdong Business Cooperation Council was established – the first of its kind between the Australian Federal and Chinese Provincial governments.

Australia has also recently established another Consulate-General in Chengdu because of our growing ties to this city and Western China more generally.

The relationship between China and Australia is multi-layered, it's dynamic and it is diverse.

Its success has been fuelled by committed leadership – across politics, the public sector, private enterprise, our universities, our cultural institutions and our wider communities.

I hope this experience of the China Advanced Leadership Program gives you a deeper understanding of the still great potential in the relationship between Australia and China, and arms you with new skills and understanding to lead in China in the years ahead. I wish you all the very best on your visit here and safe travels on your trip back to China.

Thank you.

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