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Remarks by Consul-General Dong Zhihua at the Welcoming Reception by the Chinese and Australian Business Community

(From Chinese Consulate General in Perth)


(19 June 2018, the Westin, Perth)

Hon. Mark Mcgowan, MLA, Premier of Western Australia,
Hon. Liza Harvey MLA, Leader of the Opposition,
Hon. Peter Tinley, MLA, Minister for Housing, Veterans Issues, Youth, Asian Engagement,
Ms. Kate Longhurst, WA Director of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
Ms. Jane Caforio, State Director of Austrade,
Mr.Dominic Trinidade, Australia's Consul General Designated to Shanghai,
Mr. Adam Handley, President of ACBC WA,
Mr. David Sun, President of CCCA Perth Branch,
Mr. Greg Lilleyman, COO of FMG,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends,

It's a great pleasure for me to join you tonight. I would like to thank the ACBC and CCCA Perth for jointly organizing this event, and the warm welcome and support by the Australian and Chinese business community. My special thanks to Adams and David for your warm words and kind advice.

Dear Premier, your speech is radiant with intense vigor and humor as always. And your presence has not only honored myself, but also extends a friendly gesture to China and the Chinese business community in particular. Thank you.

Minister Tinley, we have been meeting each other quite often these days. Please accept my sincere thanks to you and your team for the precious advice and assistance.

Many thanks also to Mr. Greg Lilleyman for the generous sponsorship by FMG. Mr. Andrew Forest AO is a distinguished member of the Council of Advisers of the Boao Forum for Asia and an old friend of China. Mining giants like FMG have been playing a constructive role in forging an ever closer relationship between China and WA. I look forward to working with you to do more things concrete for the friendship between our two countries.

I also wish to acknowledge the presence of my good friend Kate from the WA state office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and our special geust from the capital, Australia's Consul general designate to Shanghai Mr.Dominic Trinidade. I look forward to working closely with you to promote WA in our overall bilateral relations.

Dear Friends,

I have been here over a month now. And I have picked up quite a few things unique to Perth and WA. Thanks to a joint initiative by Rio Tinto and the CCCA Perth, I have watched a match of West Coast Eagles with Minister Tinley as well as more than 53 thousand enthusiastic AFL fans. I am very happy to see their managers also come tonight. Furthermore, I was impressed by the incredible accuracy of Miss Mund' Coffee Bean Poll and the exotic beauty of King's Park that is paralleled by none. I have already changed my WeChat (a Chinese equivalent of facebook) profile into the Red and Green Kangroo paw.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One thing that really strikes me is local people look generally 10 years younger than their actual age. I have been wondering why. Is it because of the sunshine, food or wine here. I was enlightened by the newly released data of the Real Insurance survey, which claims that two Perth suburbs ranked No2 and No3 respectively on the list of the Happiest Residents in Australia. People are informal, friendly and always smiling. They keep reminding me, as Mr. David Sun did at my Post Assumption Reception, hey, Wait A While, you are in WA.

But dear friends, we cannot afford to wait. According to KPMG's report, in the year of 2018, only 3% of Chinese Investment in Australia went to WA. More than 1 million Chinese-excluding children-visited Australia last year, merely 42 thousand came to the west shore. The volume of ethnic Chinese as well as Chinese students has been shrinking. As Chinese economy moves from a focus on investment in physical infrastructure to social infrastructure, from export driven to consumption driven growth, China's demand is shifting from raw materials to elaborately transformed manufactures, services and expertise. Timely actions are needed to explore and develop new areas of cooperation besides resources and energy sectors to maintain the momentum and healthy growth of our economic relationship.

I am more than happy to see that the state government has been making concrete efforts and delivering tangible results in diversifying WA's economy. Premier McGowan has visited China four times to enhance bilateral economic ties and promote WA. The state government has also launched the first ever Perth Chung Wah Cultural Festival to enhance Perth visibility and explore Chinese tourism market.

Dear Premier, I was still marveling about your encounter of German Chancellor Merkel and President Xi Jinping in Berlin as a tourist. I am not sure whether I have the same luck someday as to find myself waving to Prime Minister Morrison while he is meeting President Xi Jinping. In fact President Xi Jinping has visited Australia five times and set foot on all of its six states and two territories. He visited West Australia in 2004 as Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of Zhejiang Province, WA's Sister State and one of the fastest growing provinces in China. During his latest visit in 2014, President Xi told the Australian MPs that China has always viewed Australia as an important partner, and our bilateral relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during that visit.

By the same token, I wish to pay tribute to the much loved and deeply respected former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, one of the three founding fathers of the Boao Forum for Asia and a pioneer in promoting Australia's business links to China, who paved the way for the historic Channar mining joint venture between Rio Tinto and Sinosteel and kick-started Australian iron ore export industry.

Dear friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my firm belief that the West deserves the best. China and WA enjoy geographic proximity, share the same time zone and our economies are complementary. China has been the largest trading partner, export market and sources of imports for Western Australia for years. China is not only WA's biggest overseas market for iron ore, lithium, base metals, nickel and mineral sand, but also the largest buyer of WA's barley, wool and oats. Facilitated by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, our two way trade has observed a steady increase since 2015, which culminated in 2018 at 73.1 billion Australian dollars, accounting for 38% of the sino-Australia total trade volume.

Inspired by the vision of our leaders and prompted by our solid cooperation, China and WA shall tap the great potential in key areas of agriculture, infrastructure, education and tourism. We shall better align our development strategies and maintain high-level dialogues and consultations. We shall also actively create platforms and opportunities for our businesses and promote trade liberalization.

As the new Chinese Consul General to Perth, I will do my utmost to let my compatriots know more about Perth and WA. Meanwhile I hope I could also help WA understands and connects better with China.

Late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said, it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches the mice. Over the years, the Chinese and Australian business communities have stuck to pragmatic cooperation and always been the ballast that gives stability and continuity for the sound and solid relationship between China and WA. You are a force I can rely on in performing my duties.

I am confident that under the strong leadership of Premier McGowan, and with the robust support by the business communities from both sides, WA will secure its role of vanguard in Sino-Australia partnership featuring mutual benefits and common prosperity. I will spare no effort in working together with you in this endeavor.

Thank you.

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