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Consul-General Lei Kezhong's Speech at Commonwealth Bank Lunar New Year Dinner

(From Chinese Consulate General in Perth)

3 February 2017

Ms Melinda Walker, Executive Manager Int'l Premier & Retail Banking, Commonwealth Bank of Australia,
Distinguished Guests,
Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening!

It's a great pleasure for me to attend Commonwealth Bank Lunar New Year celebrations. And thank you for your invitation.

First of all, On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General, I'd like to wish all of you a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year, the year of the rooster!

To the commonwealth Bank, I know you are already the largest commercial bank in Australia, however I still wish you become richer and stronger, or even to make a great fortune in the New Year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both China and Australia are important countries in the world and in particular, in the Asia-Pacific region. Our relations and friendly cooperation dates back to centuries ago.

What's more, Australia is a major country on the route of China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and also an important share-holder of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank. There is broad room for our cooperation opportunities in Asia.

Since the establishment of China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership, and the implementation of the Free Trade agreement between our two countries, as well as the alignment of China's Belt and Road initiative with the Vision on Developing North Australia, relations between our two sides have grown steadily. Exchanges and cooperation between us in banking & finacial services have also achieved fruitful results. And hereby, I would like to congratulate CBA on its cooperation agreement signed with Alibaba in Oct last year. Congratulations!

It is worth mentioning that in recent years, the number of Chinese tourists to Australia has been increasing very quickly, with an annual growth rate of 20%. China is Australia's most rapidly increasing source of origin of international tourists. Statistics show that in 2014, there were about 840,000 Chinese tourists to Australia, in 2015, the number surpassed 1 million for the first time, and in 2016, the total Chinese tourists to Australia is 1.21million, accounting for 21.9% of Australia's total international tourists. Meanwhile, Chinese tourists spent 9 billion AUD in Australia. It is estimated that the number of tourists from mainland China to Australia will overtake that of New Zealand, and then China will become the biggest source of origin in terms of incoming tourists to Australia.

In terms of international students studying in Australia, China is also the biggest source of origin. Up to Oct 2016, there are about 310,000 international students in Australia, among which over 189,000 are from China, accounting for 28% of Australia's total number of international students.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

This year is the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia, and also the year of Tourism between our two countries, we have ample reason to believe that by working together we can usher in a great chapter of relations between us in 2017.

Again, good luck to you all in the year of the rooster!

Thank you!

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