Opening remarks at the Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue

  • Speech, check against delivery
Beijing, China

Thank you, State Councilor, and thank you for your opening remarks. And can I say to you, and to your delegation how pleased I am to be here in Beijing, in person, on the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic ties.

We appreciate the invitation and we welcome the opportunity to build on Prime Minister Albanese and President Xi’s constructive exchanges in Bali.

On this day, as you say, an historic day, we also pay tribute to the enduring contributions that so many others who've gone before have made to this relationship.

This includes former President Jiang Zemin, the first Chinese President to visit Australia in 1999. I again extend my condolences and those of the Australian Government on his passing.

Over these past 50 years, China has grown to be one of the world's largest economies, and Australia's largest trading partner.

That trade as well as cultural, educational, people-to-people links have expanded these connections and the friendship between our two countries and as you say, our two peoples.

We believe we can realise even greater potential for our peoples under our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

When we last spoke, State Councilor, you said a sound Australia-China relationship is not in contradiction with safeguarding national interests.

I agree - we can grow our bilateral relationship and uphold both of our national interests, if both countries navigate our differences wisely.

With that in mind, today I would like to discuss in the course of this meeting several issues of importance to Australia, which include consular matters, trade blockages, human rights and the global rules and norms that underpin our security and our prosperity.

When Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam moved for Australia to establish diplomatic ties to the People's Republic of China some 50 years ago, he observed that close cooperation between our two peoples was both natural and beneficial.

That was at a time when nations had to work together to prevent geopolitical competition from descending into conflict and chaos.

50 years on we again find ourselves facing great challenges, including contest, climate and of course Covid-19.

We believe dialogue better enables us to manage these challenges.

In my recent visit to Washington I spoke of the need for guardrails between the United States and China.

And I've also just travelled to Japan, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

The middle and smaller powers of our region have a fundamental interest in pressing for responsible management of competition.

State Councilor, we all share an interest in a region that respects sovereignty, that is peaceful, that is stable, and is prosperous.

Through a more stable relationship between Australia and China, we too can help ensure our people, our region and the world can enjoy peace and security.

So I thank you very much for your warm welcome. And I also want to take this opportunity, if I may, to thank you for your personal contribution to the stabilisation of the relationship between our two countries this year - and to congratulate you again on your appointment to the Politburo.

I look forward to our dialogue.

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