It was 40 years since Australia and the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic relations in 1972. It is an event we celebrate because it was a foundation stone in the history of our two countries. Since that day, 21 December 1972, interaction between the people of China and Australia has blossomed in all facets of human endeavor.
Trade has grown dramatically, of course. But most important, unprecedented numbers of Australians and Chinese are visiting each others’ countries for business, to study and for adventure. These people-to-people links have fostered increased understanding of our respective cultures grown from unique histories and geography.
Australia and China have both changed a great deal in the 40 years since diplomatic relations were established in 1972. On first glance, the changes in China, economically, socially, and politically, are more dramatic. But Australia is also a very different place compared to 1972. Both countries’ economies have enjoyed comprehensive reform in the last few decades and seen real benefits to their societies.
The 40th Anniversary was a chance to reflect on the evolution of the relationship over the past 40 years. It was also an opportunity to build and strengthen that relationship. The Australian and Chinese Governments both share these objectives.
And both countries are looking to the future. It’s a future in which economic challenges abound. Australia needs to plan for a smart economy beyond the resources boom. China is turning from its export and investment led model to an economy driven by domestic demand and a bigger services sector to underpin its continuing development. There’s plenty of scope for mutual benefit beyond the resources trade. By 2020 China’s middle class will number 670 million – a huge group of newly prosperous people keen to travel and study overseas. This is a great opportunity for Australia, but also for the people of both countries, to build closer relationships and...