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Wen Jiabao Holds Talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard

On April 18, 2005, Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council held talks in the Great Hall of the People with his Australian counterpart John Howard. The two sides exchanged views and reached broad consensus on the enhancement of China-Australia comprehensive cooperative relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest.

Wen made positive remarks over China-Australia relations. He said in recent years, bilateral relations have witnessed remarkable progress. Leaders of the two countries have been exchanging visits frequently and the two sides have achieved encouraging results in the exchanges and cooperation in a variety of areas, such as economy, trade, culture, science and technology. The Chinese government gives priority to developing relations with Australia and regards Australia as an important partner in the South Pacific. As important countries in the Asia Pacific region, China and Australia share broad common interests in maintaining regional peace and promoting common prosperity. Under the current complex and changeable international situation, to deepen China-Australia comprehensive cooperative relations is in the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples and also conducive to the peace and development of the Asia Pacific region. China appreciates the adherence by the Australian government to the one-China policy and its opposition to "Taiwan independence".

Wen pointed out China-Australia relations are facing with new development opportunities. China would like to make joint efforts with Australia to explore new areas and channels of cooperation so as to push forward the continuous development of China-Australia comprehensive cooperative relations. Wen proposed four suggestions on the future development of bilateral ties. First, to enhance political mutual trust. China would like to have closer relations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits and strengthen communication on important issues of common concern in order to enhance trust and reduce skepticism and consolidate the political basis for bilateral relations. Second, to actively and prudently promote the process of bilateral free trade. China agrees to launch negotiations on the free trade agreement between the two countries and would like to realize bilateral free trade arrangements with Australia in the principle of activeness and prudence, mutual understanding and concession as well as mutual benefits. Third, to try to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. China and Australia should try to establish and develop long-term cooperation and actively explores new modes and areas of cooperation. The Chinese government encourages and supports businesses of the two countries to invest in each other. Priority should be given to cooperation in agriculture, energy and resources development to realize complimentary advantages. Fourth, to enhance security consultation. China would like to continue to enhance consultation and coordination with Australia in important international and regional issues in a bid to jointly promote peace and development of the Asia Pacific. China welcomes Australia to play an active role in the regional cooperation within East Asia.

Howard agreed with Wen on his remarks over bilateral relations and his views on the future development of bilateral ties. He said China-Australia relations have witnessed all-round development in recent years. Bilateral cooperation in various areas has been going smoothly. Energy cooperation is particularly effective and has become an important part of the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. The good momentum can be expanded to other fields. As a result, Australia decides to recognize the full market economy status of China and would like to launch negotiations with China on the free trade agreement to deepen bilateral economic and trade relations and cooperation. Australia is willing to work with China with an active and pragmatic attitude and in the principle of mutual benefits to promote further development of bilateral economic and trade relations. Australia is optimistic about the prospect of bilateral cooperation.

Howard said the Australian government has been long upholding the one-China policy, which will not change.

Following the talks, the two premiers attended the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Recognition of China's Full Market Economy Status and the Launch of Negotiations on China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Minister of National Development and Reform Commission Ma Kai and Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai were also present at the talks.

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