VISIT TO CHINA
I am pleased to announce that I will visit China from 17 to 19 August. This will be my fourth visit as Prime Minister, the most recent being in May 2002.
The focus of my visit will be to meet with the new Chinese leadership, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, who assumed office early this year.
Relations between Australia and China have grown strongly in recent years, with an impressive level of cooperation and dialogue across a broad range of areas. Our economic partnership, in particular, continues to expand - as demonstrated by the Guangdong province LNG supply deal, worth an estimated $25 billion over 25 years. China is Australia's third largest trading partner and our fourth largest export market - purchasing $9 billion worth of Australian goods and services last year. Two-way trade was worth $23 billion in 2002. I will discuss ways our governments can work together to promote even closer economic ties.
My visit will also provide a timely opportunity to discuss international issues, including key regional security concerns. China has been playing a crucial role in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table along with other key players. China's continued positive involvement will be vital if efforts to achieve a durable and peaceful solution are to succeed. I hope to discuss with China's leaders how this process might be taken forward.