Australian firms expect strengthening China-Australia ties amid Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit
Nations have great cooperation potential in mining, farming, clean energy
Published: Mar 17, 2024 09:20 PM
China Australia Photo: VCG

China Australia Photo: VCG

Australian companies have expressed high hopes for Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Australia, saying that they hope to expand their presence in the Chinese market and strengthen mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation with their Chinese partners.

As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership, the development of bilateral relations faces important opportunities, Chinese observers said, noting that there is great cooperation potential in sectors including mining, agriculture, clean energy and the digital economy.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay an official visit to New Zealand and Australia from Sunday to Thursday. Wang will hold the seventh China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue during his visit to Australia with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced on Thursday.

"Foreign Minister Wang's visit to Australia is expected to stabilize and strengthen China-Australia relations, which have seen improvement since May 2022," Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The status quo of bilateral ties does not conform to the comprehensive strategic partnership due to damage caused by the previous Australian government, Chen said, noting that the important visit is expected to ensure the return of the real comprehensive strategic partnership and promote bilateral ties toward a new height.

Australian companies expressed high hopes for Wang's visit, underscoring the importance of win-win cooperation and the promising Chinese market.

"We welcome the Chinese Foreign Minister's visit and hope it will lead to a strengthening of trade ties between Australia and China," a Woodside spokesperson told the Global Times on Friday.

Woodside has long-standing relationships with Chinese counterparties that have been mutually beneficial. The first Australian liquefied natural gas cargo was supplied to China in 2006 from the Woodside-operated North West Shelf Joint Venture, and those supplies of reliable energy continue today. 

Woodside has also undertaken a large scope of work in Chinese shipyards with the construction of offshore facilities for our Sangomar and Scarborough projects,the spokesperson said.

Fortescue Metals CEO Dino Otranto told the Global Times on Saturday that China has been and will continue to be an important market for Fortescue. 

We see the energy transition as a significant opportunity to cooperate with China. And we also look forward to attending the Boao Forum for Asia later this month, seeing it as an important platform to further strengthen Australia's business and political relationships with Asia, Otranto continued.

China is Australia's most important trading partner, accounting for more than 25 percent of Australia's exports, said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during his visit to China in November 2023.

Since taking office in 2022, the Albanese administration has remedied its predecessor's irrational anti-China policies, prompting a positive response from the Chinese side. Hence, bilateral ties have gradually bottomed out, recovered and stabilized.

In the first two months of 2024, bilateral trade declined by 2.9 percent year-on-year to $37.03 billion, according to data released by Chinese customs on March 7.

As there are some signs of a reconciliation between China and Australia in economic and trade exchanges, it's expected that the two sides may achieve some progress in areas including mining and technology during Wang's visit, Sun Chang, a research associate at the Institute of Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The two sides may also conduct dialogue in tourism since Australia reportedly hopes for China to be its top tourism market again, according to Sun.

As for the much-watched anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian wine, He Yadong, a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said at a regular press briefing on Thursday that China will make a final review and ruling in accordance with the investigation procedures.

China has serious concerns about Australia's trade remedy measures against China's wind towers, and hopes that Australia will respect WTO rules and properly address China's concerns, He said.

China and Australia still have some disagreements in trade and political matters, Chen Hong,of East China Normal University, said, noting that Wang's visit will help manage differences.

Chen noted the importance of Australia adopting an open and sincere attitude toward Chinese investment, without succumbing to politically driven motivations influenced by the US over the so-called national security reasons. 

This open and sincere attitude is crucial for fostering a healthier and more sustainable future in bilateral relations, he said.