Australia and China signed new deals worth A$10 billion dollars on Monday, vowing to push for an early free trade agreement as they ignored diplomatic concerns to focus on economic ties.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warmly welcomed China's Vice-President Xi Jinping to Canberra as he spoke of the booming economic ties with Australia's biggest trading partner. Mr Xi, who is tipped to succeed President Hu Jintao within two years, is the first high-level Chinese official to visit Australia since the jailing of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu in Shanghai in March.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Xi's visit was a signal that the Australia-China relationship had matured to the point where problems could be worked through. He also mentioned that "some of the difficulties and tensions that we had last year really are now behind us and we're both taking a long term view of the relationship".
Australia and China had agreed in April 2005 to begin negotiations for a free trade pact and have had 14 rounds of talks since. The next round is scheduled to be held in Beijing by the end of this month.
Australia, China sign major deals, push free trade [AFP, 21 June 2010]
Australia, China sign $12b worth of deals [TODAY Online, 22 June 2010]