Rudd highlights shared wishes

By Jiao Xiaoyang and Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-11 07:35

China and Australia Thursday agreed to foster long-term cooperation "from a strategic perspective", despite having different points of view on Tibet.

In a talk with visiting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Premier Wen Jiabao called for fresh efforts to develop bilateral relations, including promoting negotiations for a free trade agreement, seeking "win-win" energy and resources cooperation and working more closely together on climate change.

Rudd said Australia is willing to be China's "reliable" long-term partner in the energy, resources and manufacturing industries, and hopes to expand cooperation in service industries such as finance and telecommunication. China overtook Japan last year to become Australia's biggest trading partner.

The former diplomat stationed in Beijing acknowledged the rapid growth in bilateral relations and the development China has achieved.

"When I was with my wife in the car this morning - she's not been here for 20 years since we lived here - she said: 'This is a very different Beijing to the one we lived in'," Rudd said in his opening remarks at the talks.

"She is a very good case study of how much China has changed."

The two sides also issued a joint statement Thursday agreeing to step up negotiations to meet the obligations included in the Bali Roadmap and to cooperate on clean coal technology, renewable energy, agriculture and other areas.

Rudd reaffirmed in the statement his promise to devote $20 million Australian dollars ($18.7 million) to a bilateral clean coal technology program.

Australia is the world's largest coal producer, while China is the largest coal consumer.

Tibet remained a sticky issue between the two sides.

Rudd said in a speech at Peking University on Tuesday that he would have a straightforward discussion on Tibet with Chinese leaders "as a long-standing friend to China".

In yesterday's talks, Wen briefed him on economic developments, human rights and culture in Tibet.

However, at a press conference later Thursday, Rudd reiterated his concerns about alleged human rights problems in Tibet.

Meanwhile, he said Australia recognizes China's sovereignty over Tibet and opposes boycotting the Beijing Olympics.

"Kevin Rudd's position on Tibet is basically the same as that of many Western countries, but his rhetoric is more tactful and less nasty," Zhang Jie, an associate researcher of Asia-Pacific studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.

"Although Rudd speaks Chinese, his position on Tibet is different from China's."

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