Historic breakthroughs in China-Australia win-win cooperation

Updated: 2014-11-17 13:59


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BEIJING - China and Australia entered a new era of mutually beneficial interaction on Monday as they embraced an epochal, twin upgrade of bilateral cooperation.

Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have declared that the two Asia-Pacific giants have practically completed bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) talks and have also decided to lift their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

The two breakthroughs are of milestone significance, as they have placed Beijing and Canberra on a new starting line to further consolidate and enrich their relations for the interests of both countries.

From a broader perspective, the landmark attainment in the China-Australia FTA process sets a good example for other countries committed to promoting Asia-Pacific regional integration and galvanizing the global recovery.

Given the friendly and fruitful cooperation between the two countries over the past decades, the latest progress is only natural. On the political dimension, bilateral ties have been advancing on the fast track since they agreed in 2013 to build a strategic partnership.

On the economic and trade dimension, bilateral intertwinement and interdependence have markedly increased. Now China is Australia's largest trading partner, export market and source of imports, and Australia is China' s eighth largest trading partner and an important source of the raw resources China needs to sustain its development.

The two economies are highly complementary, and more than 20 rounds of negotiations over the past nine years have put the two sides on the same page about what they need to do to make full use of the complementarity to boost their respective development.

The progress is also hard-earned. China and Australia do not always see eye to eye, and their FTA process was full of twists and turns. But the fact that they have overcome various hurdles and reached the present stage amply demonstrates that they have both the will and the wisdom to chart a win-win course for bilateral engagement.

It is indeed a moment of victory, yet it should not breed complacency. The inspiring achievement today is just a stepping stone for larger achievements tomorrow.

That is particularly true as China is forging ahead with broader and deeper reforms, and its economic development has been shifting from an investment-driven model to a consumption-driven one.

That means a change from the past, ore-heavy pattern of bilateral trade, but has opened up a promising prospect for China-Australia cooperation in a host of other areas. For starters, agriculture and animal husbandry.

Thus China and Australia should keep up the momentum and roll out more practical measures to build an ever closer partnership. It is time for them to explore the larger treasure hidden in their interaction.