This is the transcript of the joint press conference held by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao, and the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, at Parliament House, Canberra.
It followed a special joint sitting of the Parliament that was addressed by the Chinese President.
- Listen to the press conference:
Transcript of joint press conference by Prime Minister John Howard and Chinese President Hu Jintao
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen. This news conference will be by way of consecutive translation. I will make a short opening statement, the President will make a short opening statement and then they’ll be two questions. Two from the Chinese media and then two from the Australian media.
The agreements which have just been signed demonstrate very clearly the breadth and the depth of the relationship between Australia and China.
I welcome very much again the historic nature of the President’s visit to our country, the fact that he addressed our national Parliament and the fact that we have been able to witness the signing of so many agreements which further reinforce an already close relationship.
The talks we have just completed, one on one discussions between the President and myself, followed by discussions between senior ministers covered all the major aspects of our relationship and I can say very confidently that it is a strong relationship built on mutual respect for each other’s traditions, a shared belief in working together in our region to promote stability and the peaceful resolution of difficult issues and a determination to build an even stronger trade and economic association.
When I became Prime Minister of Australia in March of 1996, one of the most important foreign policy goals I set myself was the development of a very strong and well based relationship with China which would grow to the mutual benefits of both of our nations as the years went by. And whilst I would be the first to acknowledge that more work is always necessary, new initiatives must always be undertaken, I can say that we have made very solid progress indeed towards achieving that goal.
And finally, can I say in these opening remarks that we in Australia are very touched that the President should had chosen to visit our country so early in his term of office. That of itself speaks volumes in our view for the esteem in which he holds the relationship between our two societies.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends. It was my great pleasure today to have this opportunity of meeting with friends with the press.
On my state visit in this country upon invitation I was able to enjoy a warm welcome and gracious hospitality from the Government and people of Australia. So here I would like to take this occasion to express my most sincere thanks to the Australian Government and to people for that and I also wanted to take this opportunity to convey the best wishes of the Chinese people towards the people of Australia.
Just now I had in-depth exchange of views with the Prime Minister about China/Australia bilateral relations and regional and international questions of shared interests. We reached broad mutual understanding about furthering the development of our all round co-operation. The talks have been positive and productive.
We agreed that we need to maintain the momentum of the exchange of high level visits between the two countries and to build upon the existing mechanisms for bilateral dialogues and consultations so as to achieve greater political mutual trust and expanded common interests.
Both countries expressed their commitment to further developing the economic co-operation and trade between the two countries, in particular we would want to forge a long term and a stable co-operation partnership in areas of energy and resources development.
I had the pleasure of witnesses the signing of our trade and economic framework and a series of other co-operation documents between our two countries. I think the signing of these documents has served to show that while continuing to pursue economic co-operation and trade we also need to expand our relations to diverse areas such as science and technology, education and culture, sanitary measures and the quarantine and defence areas etc.
We have also agreed to work to further substantiate our bilateral relations in line with the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, seeking common ground while putting aside differences and common development and work together for healthy and stable development of China/Australia relations.
We have also expressed our shared commitment to stepping up our mutual consultations and co-operation in international affairs. Over all I believe that my visit has achieved its purposes of furthering friendships, expanding common group, strengthening co-operation and seeking common prosperity. I trust that with shared efforts of the two countries the China/Australia relationship of all round co-operation will see new progress.
As so now the Prime Minister and I will be happy to take up questions from two Chinese journalists and two Australian journalists. I would like to invite the Prime Minister to speak first.
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
I think it’s China to Howard first.
I represent the Xinhua news agency of China. It’s a simple question, recently China has successfully launched a manned spacecraft. I want to know what is your comment on it? Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
Well, I think it’s a remarkable tribute to China, a remarkable tribute to the sophistication of Chinese technology. China becomes only the third country in history to do this and I am full of praise to the President and I know he will convey that praise to those responsible for such a remarkable achievement.
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
Mr President, Mark Riley, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. In your address to the Parliament today, you said you would like to see Australia take a constructive role in effecting the peaceful reunification of Taiwan with China. What is it exactly you would like to see Australia do in that regard, and sir for that reunification to be effected, wouldn’t that require first you to agree to release the Communist Party’s monopoly grip on political power in Beijing to allow more representational democratic processes?
The Taiwan question is one that has a direct bearing on the sovereignty, territorial integrity and to the national pride of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. To resolve the Taiwan question and achieve the complete reunification of China is the common aspiration of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan. Our position on the question of Taiwan is peaceful reunification and one country, two systems. We will exert our utmost to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait and we will exert our utmost to strive for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. But we can never allow Taiwan to be independent because the Taiwan independence movement is a threat to the peace in the Taiwan Strait and to the reunification cause of the motherland, because such independence would never be accepted by any sovereign country or by the people of any sovereign country. I believe that by adhering to the One China policy for a very long time now, Australia is in fact giving China valuable support in our effort to achieve national reunification. We also express the hope to the Australian side that they will maintain high vigilance against the [inaudible] and the attempts by the Taiwan authorities to undermine peace in the Taiwan Strait and to undermine cross strait relations. Thank you.
I’m with the National People’s Radio of China. I have two questions for President Hu. This is your second time in Australia after 17 years. What impressed you most on your first visit, and what impressed you most on this trip? And secondly, we know you visited the Olympic Park in Sydney. I would like to know what cooperation Beijing is planning with Australia to pursue the Olympic Games?
To answer your question, I visited Australia back in 1986 and I was deeply impressed by the vast country Australia is and richly endowed resources, a highly developed economy and the fact that Australia has so many eminent people. On that visit, I deeply felt that the prospects for China/Australia cooperation would be very broad. After 17 years, I have come back to this country and in the past couple days I’ve stayed here, I saw first hand the new achievements the Australian people have made in the development of their nation. I also felt on this trip that in the past ten years and more through the common efforts of our two countries, China/Australia relations have made much progress. But at the same time, I believe that even more expensive areas are there for further economic cooperation and trade and exchanges in many other aspects. I’m ready to work with the leaders of Australia so that we can jointly work for even greater success in our overall cooperation. About the Olympics, first of I all I need to thank my host for supporting Beijing’s bid for the 2008 games. The preparations for a 2008 games in Beijing have now been in full swing. Yesterday, I made a visit to the Olympic Park in Sydney. I do feel that Australia has accumulated much useful experience through hosting the 2000 games, we need to learn from and draw upon such experience. We also welcome the active participation by various Australian entities, in particular the Australian enterprises in the preparation process for the 2008 games. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
Prime Minister, what’s your response to the President’s suggestion that Australia should exercise high vigilance and its endeavours in the Taiwan Straits to protect peace? And also, Mr President, we saw a massive gas deal signed today – the first stage of a project that could be worth up to $30 billion. How much business are you prepared to send Australia’s way and how committed are you personally to reaching a free trade deal, when might it be achieved?
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
On the first question which is directed to me. We have a one China policy, we’ve had it for a long time. I reaffirmed that today in my discussions with the President. Against that background we would want to see a spirit of calm and peaceful dialogue pervade the whole area and that applies to the attitude of China, the attitude of Taiwan, the attitude of the United States. I am very confident that with that approach this matter can over time be resolved in a commonsense and peaceful fashion.
About the question you raised, China and Australia have already signed a contract for the provision of LNG to Guangdong. So one of the documents signed just now was about the participation by Chinese companies in the development of oil in the north west shelf. I’m confident that this will even further broaden our prospect for energy and mineral resources cooperation in the future. China has now become a member of the WTO and we are part of APEC. We follow WTO rules and we live by our WTO commitments. We will actively promote trade liberalisation and facilitation. Thank you.