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Free trade stressed in promoting relations with Australia, NZ

Updated: Mar 31,2017 2:19 PM

Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia jointly meet the press and answer questions after the fifth China-Australia Annual Prime Ministerial Meeting on March 24, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]

The two articles penned by Premier Li Keqiang published in newspapers in Australia and New Zealand at the time of his visits show his determination to forge ahead with bilateral relations with the two countries.

Against the backdrop of a sluggish global economic recovery, the pushback against globalization, and rising protectionism, Premier Li offered his answer to where China and Australia are heading, in an article titled, “We want to work with you for progress and peace,” published in the Australian newspaper.

“‘Advance’ is a key word in both the Chinese and Australian national anthems. I am fully confident that China and Australia will continue to move forward in our own way while working with each other, and jointly help to counter global instability with the stability that is created through our steady development and cooperation,” said the Premier in the article.

Premier Li and Bill English talk to the press after concluding a meeting in Wellington on March 27.[Photo/Xinhua]

In an open letter published in the New Zealand Herald under the title, “To New Zealand, with Love,” Premier Li quoted sources from both countries to express his confidence that China-New Zealand relations will scale new heights.

“Aim for the highest cloud, so that if you miss it, you will reach a lofty mountain,” wrote Premier Li, quoting a Maori proverb.

“It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves,” quoting well-known New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary.

He also cited a Chinese poem: “Try to ascend the mountain’s crest: it dwarfs all peaks under our feet”.

“For China-New Zealand relations and cooperation to go further, we cannot rest on our laurels. Rather, we need to fully harness our comparative strengths, and unleash our potential for common development by synergizing our development strategies,” the Premier stressed in the article.

Despite its trade deficit with Australia and New Zealand, the Premier pledged during the trip that China remains committed to seizing the opportunity of FTA upgrading negotiations to facilitate greater mutual openness in our markets.

“I have come for free trade,” said the Premier at a welcome ceremony hosted by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra on March 23.

Premier Li also said, at the news conference after the fifth round of China-Australia prime ministers meeting, that free trade is the solution for world economic recovery, and trade imbalances must be addressed by expanding trade, rather than closing the door.

Since the implementation of China-Australia FTA more than a year ago, trade dividends continued to be released. Under the joint witness of the two prime ministers of China and Australia, the two ministers of commerce from both sides signed a new statement on trade issues.

New Zealand is the first Western developed country to have signed and implemented bilateral trade agreements with China. “The China-New Zealand FTA is one of the highest-standard signed agreements between China and developed countries. Both countries have established long-term trade relations, with bilateral trade growth outpacing our economic growth,” Premier Li said.

During Premier Li’s visit, China and New Zealand announced talks on upgrading the free trade agreement (FTA), which will give a vigorous boost to bilateral trade growth, and send a positive signal to the region and the world that the two countries are committed to free trade.