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Australia-China relationship strengthened.

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Minister for Defence

Phone: 61(02) 6277 7800

Fax: 6273 4118

Media Inquiries: 0419 982482



Tuesday, 25 May 1999



Australia-China Relationship Stre ngthened


The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today concluded the first official visit to China by an Australian Defence Minister. Over the past four days, Mr Moore has had high level discussions with senior Chinese officials, including Defence Minister, General Chi Haotian and Premier Zhu Rongji.


“This visit has represented a significant new development in what already is a strong and robust relationship,” Mr Moore said.


Mr Moore said that he appreciated the frank and businesslike approach of Defence Minister General Chi Haotian.


“My discussions with China’s military leaders confirmed that China views Australia as a major influence in the Asia-Pacific region and wishes to further enhance relations between our two countries.


“The Chinese Government wishes to play a constructive role in regional affairs. Our two countries are concerned by the consequences of the Asian economic crisis in terms of political and economic stability. In particular, China shares Australia’s hope that Indonesia can make an early return to political stability and economic prosperity.


“We also were in strong agreement on the need to settle disputes in our region, such as competing claims in the South China Sea, through negotiation.”


Mr Moore said that there had been frank discussion on the need for US strategic engagement in Asia and the NATO action in Yugoslavia. He again conveyed the Australian Government’s concern and sympathy over the US bombing of China’s embassy in Belgrade.


“In my discussions with General Chi, I also raised Australia’s concerns over illegal immigrants attempting to enter Australia from China. He reaffirmed his Government’s concern about illegal departures from China and China’s willingness to cooperate with Australia on this issue.”


Mr Moore said that he believed Australia’s defence relationship with China is on a very sound footing, and that he was looking forward to intensified dialogue on regional issues and positive cooperation between our defence forces.


“I am particularly looking forward to the visit by President Jiang Zemin in September and to the October meeting in China of senior Australian and Chinese military planners. Australia’s bilateral relationship with China has entered a new era,” Mr Moore said.


Mr Moore today leaves China for South Korea.



dd  1999-05-27  11:02