On March 22, 2017, a signed article titled “We want to work with you for progress and peace” by Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, was published in Australian newspaper The Australian.[Photo: The Australian]
WE WANT TO WORK WITH YOU FOR PROGRESS AND PEACE
We live in a world with growing uncertainties and a sense of disorientation. Given the less than desirable global economic recovery, the push-back against globalisation, rising protectionism, heightened geopolitical rivalry and local conflicts, the existing international order and system is being called into question. Against such a backdrop, where are China and Australia headed respectively? What can China and Australia do together to cope with such a situation? People are looking for answers to these questions. They are also topics for discussion during my upcoming visit to Australia.
I was told that for its national emblem, Australia picks a kangaroo and an emu, two native Australian species. Neither of the two likes moving backward but only forward, symbolising a dynamic country that always moves forward in progress. As the Australian national anthem puts it, let every stage in history’s page advance Australia fair. We in China truly admire the Australian people for your perseverance and the courage to forge ahead.
In the long course of history, we Chinese have seen the flames of war and the sunshine of peace; we had periods of great openness and yet also opted to cut ourselves off from the world. While isolation and complacency brought upon us untold sufferings in modern times, reform, opening up and the path of peaceful development have enabled China to benefit from and contribute to globalisation through win-win co-operation. We have seen in practice how the trend of economic globalisation has become closely interconnected with, even inseparable from, peace, development and cooperation. Self-isolation will never lead one to the land of happiness. Cutting oneself off could neither ensure success of one’s own endeavour nor peace and development of the world at large. A trade war will not make trade fairer. Protectionism offers no genuine protection.
History cannot be turned back, just as the trend of the times cannot be reversed. We must overcome difficulties and solve problems in the course of moving forward and keep on advancing. In this spirit, China firmly commits to building a peaceful and stable environment regionally and globally, opening the door to the outside world and warmly stretching out our hands for co-operation. We stand ready to work with other countries to support economic globalisation and free trade, improve the global governance system and facilitate progress of mankind.
“Advance” is a key word in both the Chinese and Australian national anthems. I am fully confident that China and Australia will continue to move forward in our own way while working with each other, and jointly help to counter global instability with the stability that is created through our steady development and co-operation.
Over the past 45 years of our diplomatic ties, rising above differences in national conditions and systems, China and Australia have gradually built up trust and properly managed disagreements in the spirit of equality and mutual respect. Bilateral relations and cooperation, as a result, have made substantial and steady progress. Defined by strong complementarity, our practical co-operation has delivered fruitful outcomes and promises bright prospect for greater synergy between our development strategies. Since coming into effect, the China-Australia free trade agreement has yielded continuous dividends, as evidenced by the more than 50 per cent year-on-year growth in Australian exports of milk powder, red wine and dietary supplements to China, which are among the most sought-after overseas products for Chinese consumers. Building on that, we may further open up our markets to each other to generate greater FTA-driven prosperity and make our economic co-operation and trade more diverse and sustainable. More co-operation can be explored in new areas such as industrial capacity and third-party markets, energy and mining technologies, infrastructure, agriculture and animal husbandry, which will bring more benefits to our peoples and help boost world economic growth.
Both China and Australia are fascinating lands for each other’s people. Just like Australian friends often speak to me fondly about the majestic Great Wall, cute giant pandas and delicious Chinese cuisine, the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef, magnificent Uluru and adorable koalas are some of the favourites among Chinese tourists. I hope our two sides will take the China-Australia Year of Tourism as an opportunity to further facilitate two-way flows of people. I am confident that with more cultural, educational and youth exchanges, China-Australia friendship will strike deep roots among our peoples and be passed on from generation to generation.
The Asia-Pacific is where China survives and thrives. It is also the common home of China and Australia. It is the shared desire of China, Australia and our neighbours to see the Asia-Pacific enjoy stability and order, development and prosperity and continued regional integration. Under the current circumstances, China and Australia should follow the region’s trend of peace, development and co-operation, join hands to take concrete actions and send positive signals to stabilise market expectations, convey confidence and contribute our share to the region and beyond.
Hopefully, when we look back at this particular moment in China-Australia relations, we can say proudly that we have, with selfless sharing and enormous courage, turned challenges of our time into historic opportunities; and we have, in a disoriented era beset by uncertainties, contributed the impetus needed for China-Australia relations and the world to move forward.