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Queen’s representative backs AIIB

Li Xiaokun and Zhao Yinan
Updated: Mar 31,2015 9:23 AM     China Daily

Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove gave his support on March 30 to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

He was speaking a day after Australia announced it was applying to join the bank, even though the United States has tried to persuade its allies to avoid the project.

The governor-general is the representative of the Australian monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.

March 31 is the deadline for prospective founding members to apply to join the bank, which is intended to provide financial support for infrastructure projects across Asia. More than 40 countries are seeking to become founding members.

“Australia expects the AIIB to operate well,” Cosgrove told Premier Li Keqiang when they met on March 30 at the Great Hall of the People.

Cosgrove is in China on a state visit and to attend the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia. This is his first state visit since he took office in March last year.

“Our economies are highly complementary. We have concluded the substantial negotiations on the free trade agreement, which will increase our trade and economic exchanges. I have full confidence in the outlook for China’s relations with Australia,” Li said.

President Xi Jinping told Cosgrove he expected both states to take advantage of “important opportunities to develop bilateral ties, promote development and meet the mutual expectations of the two peoples”.

In Canberra, Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb said that joining the bank will encourage economic growth and trade within the Asian region.

“There is $750 billion of infrastructure needed in our region, and improved infrastructure will help to drive growth and demand in Asia-Pacific countries that offer strong future trade and investment prospects for Australia,” he said.

Zhang Jianxiong, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said allies of the US continue to knock on the door of the AIIB.

“It’s a natural outcome. They will not abandon their massive interest in the bank and sacrifice the potential for deeper cooperation with China, the world’s second-largest economy, just to please some other country,” Zhang said.

Cosgrove told China’s leaders that Australia is in the process of approving the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and he believes it will bring major benefits to both countries if it is implemented.

The two sides agreed to deepen cooperation on legal enforcement and measures to tackle corruption, as well as military exchanges. China has asked for assistance from Australia to catch corrupt officials who have fled abroad.

Xi and Li also met Zambian President Edgar Lungu on March 30. Lungu is making his first visit outside Africa since taking office in January.

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