The Guardian • Issue #2100

China’s new development – Australia’s new opportunity

Shanghai skyline.

Shanghai skyline. Photo: (C00)

What people should worry about is not whether China’s growth would peak, but whether they would miss the opportunities in China.

China’s economy has made a good start in the first quarter of 2024. GDP reached 29.63 trillion Yuan (AU$6.3), with a year-on-year growth of 5.3 per cent in constant prices, and a 1.6 per cent increase compared to the previous year’s fourth quarter. The total value of imports and exports of goods surpassed 10 trillion Yuan for the first time in history, reaching 10.17 trillion Yuan, with a 5 per cent year-on-year growth, exceeding market expectations. The national economy has made a good start, laying a strong foundation for achieving the annual development targets with a growth of around 5 per cent.

New quality productive forces drive high-quality development. Currently, China is accelerating the development of new quality productive force: the production and sales of new energy vehicles account for over 60 per cent of the global market share, and the installed capacity of photovoltaic power generation and the scale of digital payments each account for nearly half of the global share. Exports of electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, and photovoltaic products, the “new trio,” have exceeded one trillion Yuan. China will rely on the development of new quality productive force to transform traditional industries, layout emerging strategic industries, and plan for future industries, providing sustained momentum for economic development.

The door of high-level opening-up continues to open wider. The negative list for foreign investment access has been reduced to fewer than 31 items, with comprehensive opening-up in manufacturing and relaxed market access in sectors such as telecommunications and healthcare services. The convenience for foreign nationals to work, study, travel, and make payments in China has been enhanced. Over the past five years, the rate of return on foreign direct investment in China has been 9.1 per cent. Last year, nearly 54,000 new foreign-funded enterprises were established in China, an increase of 39.7 per cent year-on-year.

Over 100 multinational business executives have recently gathered in China. The China Development Forum 2024 and the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 both had a full guest list. From the Canton Fair to the China International Import Expo, China International Fair for Trade in Services, the Global Digital Trade Expo, the China International Consumer Products Expo, and the China International Supply Chain Expo, China is opening wider and wider to the world, and China’s mega-market remains a great opportunity for the world.

Now think of this: While China has a 400-million-strong middle-income group, its per capita GDP has only recently exceeded $12,000. With private consumption accounting for merely 40 per cent of GDP, much remains to be done to upgrade the consumption structure. Even so, though, China has been contributing 30 per cent of global growth for years.

Just imagine how much more potential will be unlocked as China’s high-quality development benefits all the 1.4 billion people, the population in the middle-income bracket reaches 800 million, and consumption soars in education, tourism, healthcare, social pension insurance, government-subsidised housing and more!

With its immense size and vast prospects, China, as a premier destination for global investment that remains undervalued, is simply unparalleled.

“China’s development prospects are bright, and we have the confidence and determination for it.” Chinese President Xi Jinping provided a clear and powerful response to the question about the state of the Chinese economy, which is of great concern worldwide, during his recent meeting with representatives from the US business and strategic academic sectors. This injection of confidence and momentum into China’s economic development, as well as international economic cooperation, including cooperation with Australia, is significant. As Ambassador Xiao Qian of China to Australia stated, win-win cooperation is the right choice for China and Australia.

China and Australia are both important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, with highly complementary economic structures and mutually beneficial cooperation. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Australia. Under the strategic guidance of the leaders of our two countries and with joint efforts from both sides, China-Australia relations thawed and set sail again, and exchanges and cooperation in various fields have gradually resumed. The relationship between China and Australia is developing, which fully serves the fundamental and long-term interests of Australia and its people and is in line with the trend of the times. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent successful visit to Australia and Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s upcoming visit later this year will inject new positive energy into the stable and far-reaching development of China-Australia relations.

Taking advantage of the recent improvement in bilateral relations, China recently announced the cancellation of anti-dumping duty on Australian wine, bringing joy and encouragement to governments at all levels in Australia and the wine industry. China is the largest market for agricultural products and beverages in Western Australia, accounting for over 18 per cent of the total export value of agricultural products and beverages from WA in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. In early April, WA Minister for Agriculture and Food, Jackie Jarvis led a delegation to China, and it is believed that cooperation between Western Australia and China in the agricultural field will open up a new chapter.

China has been Western Australia’s largest trading partner for 17 consecutive years, with Western Australia’s total exports to China reaching AU$144.6 billion in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, accounting for 55 per cent of WA’s overall exports. Among this, 85 per cent of iron ore and 99 per cent of lithium produced in WA are sold to China. In addition to traditional sectors such as mining resources and agriculture, there is also vast space for cooperation between the two sides in fields such as health care and medicine, e-commerce, culture, tourism, and education.

State-to-state relations ultimately boil down to people-to-people exchanges. The foundation of China-Australia relations lies in the people and has always enjoyed broad public support. We warmly welcome people from all walks of life in WA to visit China to experience the vibrant practice of Chinese-style modernisation.

As the Consul General of China in Perth, I have witnessed the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic and observed the gradual warming and stabilisation of China-Australia relations from a low point. I am committed to upholding the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and I am willing to work hand in hand with various sectors in WA to promote pragmatic cooperation between China and WA in various fields, thereby assisting WA in building a stronger diversified economy. Together, we are dedicated to advancing the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Australia, making it more mature, stable, and fruitful for the benefit of the people of both countries.

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