Australian Prime Minister visits China: Woos China for its investment

Australian Prime Minister visits China: Woos China for its investment

How an opposition leader ‘s views are changed when that person becomes the Prime Minister. The glaring example is Australian right-wing Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The visit to China was described as the toughest leg of his tour because his comments as the opposition leader were highly critical about China. Earlier he visited Japan and South Korea.

He arrived in China on 9th April for a three-day visit. He touched down on the resort island of Hainan in the south of China.

As opposition leader, Abbott’s speech caused consternation from Chinese and Australian business leaders, who were concerned about his policy position on foreign investment from China.

Furthermore China was annoyed further because soon after the Abbot government came to power last September, his foreign minister Ms. Bishop made adverse statements on the establishment of China’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea. . The move caused a diplomatic ruckus in China.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang called Australian Foreign Minister Ms. Bishop’s statements on the ADIZ ‘irresponsible…China cannot accept them.’ He called on Australia to ‘immediately correct its mistake, so as to avoid damaging China-Australia relations.’

However to get the votes, Abbot made an election commitment in August last year that his government would wrap up regional free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China within 12 months of taking office which will boost exports from Australia to those countries..

As Prime Minister, he saw the ground reality and the need of China’s cooperation for Australia’s economic progress. Exports to China helped Australia escape the worst effects of the global economic meltdown over the past years.

Abbott decided to include China that during the North Asian tour. On April 9th Abbott and China’s premier Li Keqiang spoke about the free trade agreement during a meeting.

Abbott said in China that he recognised that Chinese state investors behave like “commercial enterprises” and compared them to Japanese and Korean companies that worked closely with their respective governments. “We welcome Chinese investment, we want to offer Chinese investment the same kind of access to Australia that our other free-trade partners do get,” he said.

“I have to say that one of the things that I’ve learned better over the last few years is that Chinese state-owned enterprises are highly commercial operations. They don’t normally operate in the kind of way that a nationalised industry might have operated back in Australia and one of the points that I’ve been reiterating again and again here in China is that no SOE foreign investment application has ever been knocked back.”

The prime minister said major Chinese foreign investments had been approved since last September’s election, including investments by state owned enterprises.

Boosting economic interests of Australia:

The PM travelled to Shanghai on 10th April ahead of the start of the first Australia Week in China, modelled on the US cultural exchange, where he met with state and territory leaders and the remainder of a 600-strong business delegation to open an Australian expo.

The Chinese would like more scope to invest in Australia without having to run the gauntlet of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (Firb) scrutiny. The prime minister said when it came to the China free trade talks, the government was “optimistic but not certain of success”.

Tony Abbott has compared his free trade negotiations with China with a World Cup final. Abbott emphasised that he was in China to deepen the friendship, not simply cut a trade deal, but kicking off the Shanghai leg of the trip on 11th April. Abbott told business leaders there was “extraordinary potential” in the bilateral free trade pact with Beijing.

“It’s a bit like being in the middle of a World Cup grand final – those are the stakes we’re playing for,” Abbott said. “We’ve scored two goals, but it will only be a draw if we don’t score the third goal.“That’s what we’re shooting for – the third goal that will make this a historic win for our country.”

It’s a bit like being in the middle of a World Cup grand final – those are the stakes we’re playing for,” Abbott said. “We’ve scored two goals, but it will only be a draw if we don’t score the third goal. “That’s what we’re shooting for – the third goal that will make this a historic win for our country.”

The soccer analogy references the two other trade pacts the Abbott government tied up before his China’s visit- one in Japan and the other in South Korea. On the Abbott analogy, finalising the China deal would turn a “draw” into a “win”.

The prime minister suggested Australia must lift its game to achieve success in the China FTA undertaking, but he said the onus was also on the Chinese to see the benefits in coming to the table with an agenda to open market access for Australian exporters.

“It is at least as much about them, and what we have to offer them is a much better future. We can give them the resource security, the energy security and above all else, the food security that they rightly crave,” the prime minister said.

He was interested more about an agreement between China and Australia to make Sydney a trading hub for the yuan. The treasurer, Joe Hockey, confirmed that Australia and China reached an in-principle agreement to “enhance offshore market development” of China’s currency.

Arriving in Boao in southern China with 30 Australian CEOs, his Foreign Minister and Trade Minister for an economic forum, the Prime Minister said he would try to accelerate a trade deal with China. He said that Team Australia was in China to help build the Asian Century. China, after all, has taken to heart Deng Xiaoping’s advice that “to get rich is glorious.. And China should be richer still, thanks to Premier Li’s reforms. To be rich is indeed glorious — but to be a true friend is sublime.

“The rest of the world is rightly in awe of the way China lifted hundreds of millions of people into the middle class in just a generation. “This is the greatest and the quickest advance in human welfare of all time. I am proud that Australian coal, iron ore, gas and services exports have helped to drive this prosperity.”

On 11th April, Tony Abbott has met with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing on the penultimate day of his tour of China. Journalists were told the discussions were varied, but it is understood Abbott raised recent regional tensions, which follows his earlier comments that such disputes should be resolved in a peaceful and legal way. He passed the final day of his visit on 12th April sightseeing tour of Beijing.


The purpose of the visit to China by the Australian Prime Minister was firstly to mend its relations with China. Secondly China happens to be largest trade partner of Australia (bilateral trade $121 billion as of 2011) and if a free trade agreement is executed between Australia-China, it would accrue tremendous economic benefits to Australia at a time when its resources boom has been tapering of.

For the Abbott government it is a challenge whether the relations have been mended sufficiently to conclude the free trade agreement with China in November when Chinese President is scheduled to visit Australia.

Place your ads here!

No comments

Write a comment
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Write a Comment