China-Australia Energy Talks

The Australia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum was hosted in Beijing on 26 April 2011, and positive agreements and relationships were built during the course of the meetings held. Talks held between Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, and Li Keqiang, Vice Premier of China, were directed at developing the relationship between the two countries in regard to resources and energy to more than the buyer-seller agreement that already exists. Li Keqiang stressed that both China and Australia should strive to develop long term agreements and a more stable bond in regard to energy and resources.

Approximately six hundred leaders of government attended the talks, in which Li addressed the audience in regard to finding ways to establish cooperation between the two countries that will be mutually beneficial. During the years 2009 and 2010 almost half of the exports made to China from Australia were of iron ore. Other energy and resource products that carry the relationship between the two countries include natural gas and coal. Within the above mentioned years, Australia benefited by the agreement with trade that amounted to over a hundred billion Australian dollars, and Gillard commented that the relationship with China is still good. The talks were also directed to other industries, as China put forward proposals within the service industry that included tourism, medical care, finance and food safety. Education and tourism are high on the priority list, as in 2010, Australia welcomed almost four hundred and fifty thousand tourists from China, while Chinese student enrollments increased to 167 000 last year.

Even though there is room for Australia and China to look towards creating more stable agreements in various areas such as technology and infrastructure, Gillard spoke to the press and confirm that she did raise concerns that Australia has in regard to religious freedom, human rights and ethnic minorities. She would not comment any further, but said that their concerns were voiced and Premier Wen did listen to the issues raised. The talks ended with agreements being signed, indicating that bilateral and mutually beneficial agreements will be negotiated, strengthening the ties between China and Australia.