Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, as spring is in the air, my colleagues and I are delighted to have all of you here to celebrate together the 67th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China. I wish to thank you, friends from across the sectors, for your longstanding commitment to the China-Australia friendship.
Over the past 67 years, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people, with their hard working and pioneering spirit, have turned China into the world's second largest economy from a once poor and backward country. Over 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty and the lives of the 1.3 billion population have been significantly improved in the past more than three decades. Nowadays, China's yearly economic increment is tantamount to the economic aggregate of a medium-sized economy and its contribution to world economic growth has been at around 25%.
This huge achievement is attributable to multiple factors, the most important one being that China has found a development path suited to its national conditions and in keeping with the trends of the times, namely, "socialism with Chinese characteristics". We will unswervingly follow this path as it has the broad support of the Chinese people.
China now stands at a new historical starting point. Our near-term objective is to succeed in comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society by 2020 on the centenary of the Communist Party of China. This means to double the 2010 GDP and incomes of both urban and rural residents. It also means over 57 million rural population living below the current poverty line will all be lifted out of poverty.
To this end, we will deepen reform in an all-round way and accelerate economic transformation and upgrading. We will open up wider to the world and be fully involved in economic globalization. China will firmly follow the path of peaceful development and is committed to developing friendly and cooperative relations with all other countries.
At the G20 Hangzhou Summit concluded earlier this month, a broad consensus was reached to foster an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy. During the Summit, President Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. This was the first meeting between our leaders since the new Australian government took office. The two sides agreed that it serves the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples to deepen political trust and push for sound and steady development of bilateral ties.
After the Summit, Prime Minister Turnbull made a stop at the headquarters of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba, where Alibaba and Austrade signed a MOU on strategic partnership. At the signing ceremony, Mr. Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, told a story about his bond with Australia.
Back in the early 1980s, as a teenage boy who wanted to improve his English, he met an Australian boy who was on holiday in China with his family. They later became pen pals. In 1985, Jack Ma was invited by his pen pal's father to visit Australia. Unexpectedly, he was rejected for an Australian visa for six times. But he did not give up and was finally allowed to visit his pen pal. He spent 29 days in Newcastle, New South Wales. According to Jack Ma, that visit opened his eyes and changed his life.
31 years later, the young kid has become a leader in China's e-commerce industry. Currently, more than 1300 Australian brands sell through Tmall and Tmall Global, Alibaba's cross-border e-commerce platform. The MOU between Alibaba and Austrade will help increase opportunities for Australian goods to reach Chinese consumers.
Jack Ma's special bond with Australia is, to some extend, just a reflection of the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries and two peoples in the past several decades. It also foretells the prospect of our relations.
In the mid-1980s, there was no visitor visa arrangement between the two countries. Last year, over one million Chinese tourists came to Australia, while more than 600,000 Australians visited China.
Apart from tourism, the two countries have developed and maintained strong cooperation in trade, business, education, culture, investment, science and technology, law-enforcement, and innovation. This is also true with exchanges between political parties, legislatures and local authorities. Even in defense area there are close interactions. Moreover, the two sides share a lot in common in such multilateral frameworks as G20, UN and East Asia Summit. The comprehensive strategic partnership established in 2014 and the free trade agreement ChAFTA implemented in 2015 clearly speak volumes of the breadth and depth of our bilateral relations.
That said, there is no denial our two countries do have some disagreements. And there could be discordant noises or even impediments now and then in the course of development of our relations. But overall, the China-Australia relationship is on solid ground based on shared interests and with broad public support.
As long as we follow the principle of mutual trust and mutual benefit, keep the development of the bilateral relationship on the right course, our exchanges and cooperation will continue to deepen, our common interests will continue to expand, and our comprehensive strategic partnership will continue to grow.
I have every confidence in the future of this relationship. As Xin Qiji, a famous poet in China's Song Dynasty, once wrote, "Thick mountains could not stop the river from flowing into the sea."
Today, I am happy to see some familiar faces from the Chinese communities. In a sense, Chinese immigrants in Australia have been forerunners of our bilateral relations. Over the years, they have developed their careers by working hard through thick and thin, and actively integrated themselves into the Australian society, thus making unique contributions to the social and economic development and cultural diversity of Australia. They have also played a positive role in promoting China-Australia relations.
The famous Australian writer Eric Rolls once said "Without the Chinese, Australia will be a lesser country". Prime Minister Turnbull also said that "the Chinese communities are one of the most successful communities in Australia; they serve as a strong bond between the two countries".
Here, I would like to pay high tribute to the Chinese communities in Australia. I believe the Chinese communities will be further integrated into the Australian society and continue to serve as a bridge for better understanding and stronger cooperation between the two countries.
Now, I wish to propose a toast,
To the 67th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China,
To an even brighter future of China-Australia ties, and
To the health of all of you present today.