Gillard lands a big one with China deal
April 10, 2013
Chief political correspondent
Australia and China have formally committed to new annual leadership talks giving Canberra greater access than the Asian superpower has granted to virtually any other Western nation.
With countries across the world clamouring for the ear of the world’s second-largest economy, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has landed the foreign policy triumph of her leadership, signing off on the new strategic partnership with her Chinese counterpart, Premier Li Keqiang.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard with year 11 students at Chenjinglun High School in Beijing. Photo: Pool
Under the agreement, annual meetings will now take place between the prime ministers of the two governments – an arrangement that exists as a formal process between China and only two other countries, Germany and Russia, as well as with the European Union.
Its formal completion follows months of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations and came on the last day of Ms Gillard’s five-day visit to China in a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.
A buoyant Ms Gillard emerged from her bilateral talks with Mr Li describing the agreement as ”a breakthrough”.
”When the history of this relationship is written, I think this will be remembered as the day that a big step forward was taken,” she said.
”I’m obviously pleased for our country . . . and now with this agreement we know we will command attention here in China.
”Naturally, new architecture will not do the work for us or make hard problems in our relationship easy,” Ms Gillard said. ”What it will do is elevate our existing habits of dialogue and co-operation.”
While her government’s electoral stocks remain disastrously low with few tipping a rebound solely on the basis of abstract foreign policy architecture, however historic in nature, Ms Gillard confidently claimed that voters intuitively recognise the strategic and economic importance of China and would come to appreciate what had been achieved.
”I think people in Australia understand how important China is to our economic future, I think they understand that very deeply,” she said.
Ms Gillard said it was clear that many countries around the world were eager to get their issues aired before the Chinese leadership but Australia had positioned itself at front and centre.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has welcomed an agreement for annual talks with China, saying Australia had neglected the relationship before Ms Gillard’s visit.
”When I was in Beijing last July I very strongly urged that there be an annual leadership dialogue at the top level of business and politics between Australia and China,” Mr Abbott told Melbourne radio on Wednesday. ”It seems like the idea has come into fruition, so it’s great.”
The annual forum will be supported by additional permanent resources as well as annual meetings at sub-leadership level, involving both foreign ministers.
A new ”strategic economic dialogue” is also a key underpinning to be led by Australia’s treasurer and trade minister, and on China’s side, by the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, regarded by close China watchers as among its most influential economic positions.
Free trade talks with China, which have been stalled now for some years, may get a boost with the next meetings to take place in May.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson, said Mr Li had ”looked around for the trade guy” during the meeting, suggesting trade liberalisation was a higher priority for the new leadership than the previous one.
The two governments also signed into law the start of direct trading of Australian dollars and the Chinese currency, removing the need for an intermediate transfer into US dollars.
Fairfax believes the push to establish the new strategic partnership, a long-held Australian ambition, was accelerated last year by Ms Gillard, who believed the looming change in China’s leadership from then president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao to Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang respectively, presented a new opportunity.
After writing to Mr Hu in April of last year, she dispatched to Beijing one of Australia’s most senior bureaucrats, Dennis Richardson, to build the case.
China’s recognition of the relationship with Australia as a ”strategic partnership” reflects the rapidly growing two-way trade, running at nearly $130 billion a year, as well as the leadership roles played globally and regionally by both countries.
Australia and China are co-members of the UN Security Council (China as a permanent member), the powerful G20, APEC and the East Asia Summit.
Australia has established comparable agreements with Indonesia and India, the latter inaugurated by Ms Gillard last year.
Yesterday’s signing ceremony also formalised agreements for co-operation and co-ordination of development aid by both nations in the Asia Pacific region.
PM puts name on board and gets relationship on track
April 10, 2013
China correspondent for Fairfax Media
Julia Gillard has not been known as an international stateswoman and nor is she a Sinophile but on Tuesday she ended years of leadership neglect and policy confusion to put the China relationship on track.
Which is just as well.
These days China not only underwrites the Australian economy, it sits at or near the centre of all the global challenges that matter to us most.
The centre pole of the new ”architecture”, as diplomats like to call it, is a three-point annual dialogue involving the Australian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Treasurer.
And if anyone needs a refresher on the breadth of issues at stake they need only look at the myriad agreements signed after Prime Minister Gillard and Premier Li Keqiang’s meeting – with full military honours – at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday night.
There is an agreement to trade Chinese renminbi directly in Australian dollars, only the third such agreement China has entered into.
There was a pilot program to allow Chinese arrivals – and there were 650,000 last year – to electronically swipe their passports through customs in Australia’s otherwise unwelcoming airports.
There was an agreement on climate change, with ambitions to connect carbon trading markets in both nations.
There was a crucial agreement to link the aid bureaucracies as they plan public health programs in the South Pacific, which could be crucial for regional stability.
There was even a defence strategy forum that will allow the Australians to ease Chinese fears.
When Gough Whitlam turned Australian foreign policy on its head in 1972 he dispatched inaugural ambassador Stephen FitzGerald with the instructions: ”We seek a relationship with China based on friendship, co-operation and mutual trust comparable with that which we have or seek with other major powers.”
FitzGerald watched Whitlam’s successors pursue those goals until, bizarrely, China’s potential as a global power became reality.
”Australia has to have a China strategy, but it has to think about China itself before it can have a China strategy,” he wrote in a scathing essay in February this year. But now, after ambassador Frances Adamson rang to walk him though the detail, he’s ready to give his highest possible endorsement.
”We’re getting there on China,” FitzGerald said. ”These are the things that we’ve wanted to happen for a long time. I think Gough would be pleased.”
2013年04月09日 22:24 中国证券网
North Korea closes China border to tourists
April 10, 2013 – 1:25PM
The biggest border crossing between North Korea and China has been closed to tourist groups, a Chinese official says, as nuclear tensions mounted, but business travel was allowed to continue.
“Travel agencies are not allowed to take tourist groups to go there, since the North Korean government is now asking foreign people to leave,” the official at the Dandong Border Office said.
“As far as I know, business people can enter and leave North Korea freely,” added the official, who declined to give his name, without making clear which country had ordered the move.
North Korean soldiers patrol along the bank of the Yalu River in the North Korean town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese city of Dandong. Photo: AFP
China is North Korea’s sole major ally and the provider of the vast majority of its trade and aid, with most of the business passing through Dandong.
A woman surnamed Wu at a travel agency in the town said municipal authorities told it on Tuesday that because of tensions in Pyongyang, Dandong travel firms would not be able to take tours into North Korea from Wednesday.
“It was absolutely North Korea’s [decision] because the travel bureau told us ‘North Korea is now no longer allowing tour groups to be taken in’,” the woman said.
An AFP photographer at the border on Wednesday saw cars and a larger vehicle passing over the bridge crossing the Yalu river that marks the frontier, in both directions.
On Tuesday, Pyongyang advised foreigners to consider leaving South Korea, warning that the Korean peninsula was headed for “thermo-nuclear” war.
Last week, North Korean authorities also warned embassies in Pyongyang to consider evacuating as it would be unable to guarantee diplomats’ safety in the event of conflict, but the statement was largely dismissed as empty rhetoric.
Most governments made it clear they had no plans to withdraw personnel.
The Korean peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military tensions since the North’s third nuclear test in February, which drew toughened UN sanctions.
Pyongyang’s bellicose rhetoric has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, with near-daily threats of attacks on US military bases and South Korea in response to ongoing South Korean-US military exercises.