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UPDATED: December 16, 2014 NO. 48 NOVEMBER 27, 2014
Oceanic Opportunities
President Xi deepens both political and economic ties with Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in a constructive visit
By Yu Lintao

CULTIVATING FRIENDSHIP: Chinese President Xi Jinping plants a tree with students of a primary school in Tasmania state, Australia, on November 18 (RAO AIMIN)

Professor Kerry Brown, Executive Director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney, believes the FTA offers the Australian business circle good opportunities to readjust their trade structure with China.

"The FTA is a powerful symbol that the two countries now have economies that are closer to each other and should serve to make Australians think more deeply about areas where they can now engage economically with China beyond resources. It offers the service and finance sectors in Australia some good opportunities. The Australian business community needs to think much more about what they might be able to do in China," said Brown in an e-mail interview with Beijing Review.

Meanwhile, Brown said that, as the two countries now have the economic and cultural infrastructures to work more closely with each other, it is the right time to seek deeper engagement.

Maintaining momentum

In a signed article published on the New Zealand Herald before his arrival, Xi wrote that China is ready to move forward hand-in-hand with New Zealand as effective partners for win-win cooperation, working together toward an even better future for bilateral relationship.

New Zealand holds many "firsts" in China's diplomacy. For instance, it is the first developed country to reach a bilateral agreement with China for China's accession to the WTO in 1997. It also led other developed countries to recognize China's market economy status in 2004 and to sign and implement an FTA with China in 2007.

Chen Mingming, former Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand, said that the China-New Zealand FTA has played an important exemplary role for the establishment of the China-Australia FTA.

"In a sense, if there were not the China-New Zealand FTA, there would not be a China-Australia FTA," Chen was quoted by The Beijing News.

After the completion of the China-New Zealand FTA, China has provided New Zealand with a huge market. Over the past five years, New Zealand's dairy and meat product exports to China have increased more than 500 percent, with timber exports rising by 300 percent. The number of exported product categories from New Zealand to China has also increased from dozens to more than 200. In 2013, China replaced Australia to become New Zealand's largest trading partner.

In addition to robust economic links, the two have also fostered close cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The bulk of international study abroad students in New Zealand now come from China.

Fiji was the last stop of Xi's South Pacific trip. It is the first time a Chinese head of state has visited the Pacific Island country since the two countries established diplomatic relationship in 1975.

Fiji is an important country in the South Pacific and the first in the region to forge diplomatic ties with China.

China-Fiji relations have progressed steadily and demonstrated increasingly positive signs of growth in recent years. The two sides have witnessed continuous growth in trade and investment. China has assisted in the construction of hospitals, houses and hydro-power stations, as well as road renovation in Fiji. Cooperation between the two countries on agricultural projects plays a concrete role in improving the livelihood of the island people.

Huang Yong, Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, told the media that the comprehensive growth of China-Fiji ties has not only brought tangible benefits to the two countries and two peoples, but also helped to ensure peace, stability and development in the South Pacific. President Xi's latest trip succeeded pushing bilateral ties to a new level.

 Email us at: yulintao@bjreview.com

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