Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Cheng Jingye at the Reception for the Australia-China Council 40th Anniversary
(10 December, DFAT)
2018/12/10

The Hon Warwick Smith,

Deputy Secretary Richard Maude,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentleman,

It gives me great pleasure to join you in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Australia-China Council (ACC).

Over the past 40 years, the ACC has been dedicated to promoting exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia, especially in the fields of culture, education, research and business. It has played a significant role in building a long-term bilateral relationship and enhancing understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

In 1978 when the ACC first established, China just kick-started its reform and opening up. It is fair to say that, along its four decades journey, the ACC has witnessed not only the great changes in China, but also the continuous progress of our bilateral relations.

As a Chinese saying goes, “predecessor trees, descendants cool.” The tree of China-Australia relationship cannot be so flourishing today without those who sowed the seeds of hope and those who have nourished them with care and dedication. On this occasion, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy and in my own name, I’d like to pay my sincere respect to all those who have contributed to the development of the China-Australia relationship.

Specifically, I’d like to express my deep appreciation of the farsighted decision of the Malcolm Fraser government to establish the Australia China Council. And we will surely remember the historic contribution of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam for establishing diplomatic ties with China. Furthermore, I’d like to thank the inaugural chair of the ACC, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, and all his successors, including Professor Mark Wainwright, Dr John Yu, and the current Chair, Mr Warwick Smith, for their remarkable leadership in advancing the work of the Council. My thanks also go to all the board members, past and present and the secretariats for their tireless dedications.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Amity between the people holds the key to state-to-state relations, and heart-to-heart communication contributes to deeper friendship. The strength of China-Australia relationship does not only lie in the robust economic and trade links, but also is reflected in the ever-growing people-to-people connections, which plays an irreplaceable role in its part.

Last year, our people made about two million visits to each other’s country. There are now some 200,000 Chinese students studying in Australia. The “New Colombo Plan” has so far supported over 4,700 Australian students to study in China. More than 160 direct flights are now flying between the two countries every week. This year, the Australian Ballet and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra made successful tours in China. The master bark paintings exhibition organized by the National Museum of Australia is on show in Shanghai after its successful tour in Beijing. The Chinese New Year Concert continues to grow in Australia. Moreover, the community of 1.2 million Chinese Australians has been playing a unique role in bridging the two countries.

The development of China-Australia relations to its root relies on the broad support from people of all walks of life. Therefore, we should broaden and deepen people-to-people links, encouraging more people to support and participate in these exchanges for the benefit of better understanding and more trust. And we should have more exchanges among the younger generations.

Last month, Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Scott Morrison held the 6th annual leader’s meeting during the EAS. Before that, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi co-chaired the 5th diplomatic and strategic dialogue with Foreign Minister Marise Payne. It’s my sincere hope the two sides will build on this positive momentum, view the relationship from a perspective of win-win cooperation and forge ahead the steady development of China-Australia ties.

With such a vision, I hope the ACC in the coming years will make new contributions to the cooperation between the two nations and the friendship between the two peoples.

Thank you.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-62283999, Fax: 0061-2-62283990
E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn
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