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China-Australia relations can go far with economic complementarity

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-06-16 11:49
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The Chinese and Australian national flags in Sydney, Australia. [Photo/Xinhua]

 In the course of history, China and Australia have long been forging ahead side by side, and have benefited greatly from win-win cooperation.

However, in the past decade, bilateral relations have faced challenges. Influenced by external pressure, some Australian politicians have viewed China's rise as a threat, leading to unfavorable actions such as banning Chinese companies from Australia's 5G network and joining the AUKUS partnership on nuclear-powered submarines.

These actions have disrupted the positive trajectory of China-Australia cooperation, causing economic and trade tensions. Controversies have erupted within Australia's political sphere, with former Prime Minister Paul Keating criticizing the government for antagonizing China by following Washington's geopolitical agenda.

There is no reason for strained relations, as China and Australia have no historical conflicts and do not compete economically. Instead, they have significant economic complementarities, and there is huge potential for economic and trade cooperation.

Since 2009, China has been Australia's largest trading partner, export market and import source for 15 consecutive years. In 2023, bilateral trade in goods increased 4.1 percent year on year, while Australian investment in China increased 11.7 percent compared to the previous year. China is also the main importer of agricultural and mineral products from Australia.

Fortunately, high-level exchanges have brought bilateral ties back to the right track, paving the way for a rebound in trade and investment.

In November 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Indonesia, and reached important consensus on accelerating the improvement of bilateral relations. Almost a year later, Albanese visited Beijing and attended the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

In April, Australia terminated its anti-dumping measures against Chinese wind towers after the World Trade Organization ruled that Australian duties on Chinese steel products were flawed. China for its part has canceled anti-dumping duties on Australian wine and dropped its ban on a number of the country's beef and lamb exporters. More good news on trade is expected.

"Economic complementarity lies at the heart of the bilateral relationship. A focus on areas of common beneficial interest is conducive to a positive atmosphere for dialogue to continue to broaden and enhance bilateral relations," said Warwick Powell, adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology.

"There's also a large amount of knowhow that's being developed in China, ranging from renewable energy solutions, new materials, biotechnology, healthcare and nutrition solutions to name a few, that can benefit Australian enterprises, researchers and consumers," Powell said.

The evolving relationship between China and Australia over the decades highlights that avoiding external interference and pursuing win-win cooperation, rather than confrontation, serves the best interests of the two sides.

Just as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed during his visit to Australia in March, to keep China-Australia relations on the right track, both sides must strive for steady and sound progress in the right direction.

On the basis of mutual respect and with economic complementarity at heart, China and Australia are looking at unlimited potential and prospects for cooperation.

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