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Friday, 20 March 1987
Page: 1266

Mr LEE(3.59) —Last November I had the honour of leading a delegation of young Australians to the People's Republic of China. The delegation's members were chosen by the Australian Political Exchange Committee on the nomination of the major political parties. The other members of the delegation were: My colleague the honourable member for Bass, Mr Warwick Smith, who very ably performed the duties of deputy leader of the delegation; Ms Cheryl Davenport of the Australian Labor Party; Lynton Crosby of the Liberal Party of Australia; Julian Anderson of the National Party of Australia; Meg Lees of the Australian Democrats; and Sue Whisker from the Australian Political Exchange Committee secretariat.

During our 10 days in China the members of the delegation were the guests of the All China Youth Federation. On the evening of our first day in Beijing the President of the All China Youth Federation, Mrs Liu Yandong, hosted a banquet to welcome the Australians, and Mr Li Keqiang, Vice-President of the All China Youth Federation, gave our group a detailed briefing on the Federation's role as the parent body for all youth organisations in China, including the Communist Youth League, the All China Students Federation, the Young Men's Christian Association, the Young Women's Christian Association and the Young Managers Federation. The All China Youth Federation represents 300 million young people and has helped establish new enterprises run by young people and also runs training classes to encourage the use of new and up to date technology. Members of the Federation at the national and provincial levels fill important political roles and have raised issues such as industrial pollution, reafforestation and other important environmental issues.

One of the highlights of our visit to China was a meeting with Mr Huang Hua, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, at the Great Hall of the People on 24 November. The delegation received many detailed and informative briefings during its visits to Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Shenzen. I wish to place on record this afternoon the gratitude of all members of the Australian delegation to the All China Youth Federation for hosting our visit, to the officials from the government and political bodies, educational institutions, business enterprises and the many other Chinese citizens who were so generous with their time, and also to several staff members of the Australian Embassy who gave assistance to the delegation. I wish to pay particular tribute to the two escorts from the All China Youth Federation who accompanied the delegation during its visit to China-Mr Zhao Fu-cheng and Madam Xia Jihui. I wish to thank them for their friendship and frankness in answering our many questions and for having introduced the Australians to delicacies such as chicken claws and the best bean curd I have ever tasted.

On our last evening in China I thanked our hosts for having given the Australians an opportunity to see with their own eyes the impact of one of the greatest historical events of our time. Incredible changes have already been implemented in China since October 1978, such as the introduction of the responsibility system in agriculture, the restructuring of China's economic administration through the open door policy and special economic zones and the modernisation programs. It is one thing to read about these policies, but it is quite another thing to see the impact that they have had-to see a farm on which the responsibility system has been implemented and to see the quality and style of the clothes which people are wearing in the busy streets of a modern Chinese city.

Two impressions of China will remain with me for many years. Firstly, I envy the commitment of ordinary Chinese citizens to their country and their willingness to put the national interest first. Secondly, I will not forget a visit to a temple in Guandong Province on a Sunday afternoon. We were approached by young high school students who, on their one day of weekend rest, asked whether they could practise English with the Australians during their tour of the temple. Their keenness is a credit and a tribute to Chinese students and their teachers. I recently had the pleasure again of meeting our host in Guandong Province, Mr Feng Wei Jin, General Manager of the Guandong Youth Travel Service, and I am pleased to see that he is still in good health. Lastly, I wish to thank the other members of the delegation for their personal friendship, sense of humour and dedication during our visit to China. I will certainly count them as close friends for many years to come.