10 April 2014
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared “Team Australia” is in China to “help build the Asian century” in his address to the Boao Forum.
The gathering, on the island of Hainan, rivals Europe’s Davos forum in showcasing the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr Abbott told the gathering he was being accompanied on his trip to China by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade Minister Andrew Robb, five of Australia’s state premiers, and 30 of the country’s senior business executives.
“It’s one of the most important delegations ever to leave Australia,” the Prime Minister said.
He said Australia’s resources had played a part in lifting Chinese living standards.
“The rest of the world is rightly in awe of the way these countries have lifted hundreds of millions of people into the middle class in just a generation,” he said.
“This is the greatest and the quickest advance in human welfare of all time.
“It’s happened because governments have allowed individuals and families to take more control of their own futures.
“I am proud that Australian coal, iron ore, gas and services exports have helped to drive this prosperity.”
Mr Abbott said Australia’s size meant it had the potential to be a “valuable” partner to China but “not a dominant one”.
He highlighted the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which Australia was leading, as an example of what the countries of the region could achieve when they worked together rather than apart.
Mr Abbott is hopeful of progressing Australian-Chinese talks on a free trade agreement, after signing one in South Korea and negotiating one with Japan this week.
But he said Australia was motivated by more than just dollars.
“Australia is not in China to do a deal, but to be a friend,” he said. “We don’t just visit because we need to, but because we want to.”
Courtesy of ABC News