by Xinhua Writer Liu Chang
BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- The Asia-Pacific is facing a host of unprecedented economic and security challenges, which, however, also provide a historic chance for Beijing and Canberra to build a stronger partnership.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is in Australia for an official visit. His trip comes when the world's most economically vibrant region is overclouded by continuous global economic uncertainties, rising trade protectionism and growing doubts about globalization.
In recent years, China and Australia have maintained strong economic ties and reaped handsomely from flourishing trade and investment transactions.
China has remained Australia's largest trading partner for the past eight years, with the 2016 two-way trade volume hitting 108 billion U.S. dollars, according to China's foreign ministry.
With the two nations' free trade agreement officially entering into force in December 2015, Australia's exports of health and dairy products as well as wine to China have seen a sharp rise.
Meanwhile, China has been trying to broaden the focus of its investment, bringing more business opportunities for Australian firms and benefits to local people.
A recent research by the international consulting firm KPMG said Chinese investment, which used to flood Australia's mining industries, can now be found in sectors such as real estate development, renewable energy, health care and agriculture, among others.
As Chinese investment pours in, the Australian government has set up the Critical Infrastructure Center to oversee its sensitive assets, and has rejected a number of acquisition bids by Chinese companies on grounds of national security.
Canberra has the right to carefully vet foreign money that could flow into its key infrastructure. Yet walling off overseas financing over unfounded concerns would be both a mistake and a loss for the country.
Better China-Australia economic and trade cooperation also has an important bearing that goes beyond bilateral scope.
Earlier this month, China sent its representatives to Chile's seaside resort of Vina del Mar for a two-day meeting on economic integration in the Asia-Pacific that gathered envoys from 15 Pacific-rim countries.
By attending the conference, Beijing intends to acknowledge that it is open to any multilateral trade pacts as long as they could honor the spirit of free trade, give all parties an equal say in writing playbooks, and ensure that trade benefits could be shared by all participants.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is also an ardent advocate of a more robust free trade system and greater economic integration in the region.
During his stay in Australia, Premier Li is expected to join Turnbull in exploring more possibilities to further unleash the potential of bilateral economic exchanges.
The two major economies in the region also share vital interests in jointly taking the lead to revive the world's wilting confidence in free trade and economic globalization.
Currently, pushing forward negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is the most possible pathway to that end.
China and Australia also share huge stakes in maintaining regional peace and stability, and in combating non-conventional threats such as climate change and terrorism.
CANBERRA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in the Australian capital of Canberra Wednesday night for an official visit.
It is the first trip to the Oceanian country by a Chinese premier in 11 years. Full Story