by Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, March 25 (Xinhua) -- At a time of uncertainty, where protectionist economic policy poses some threats to the broader global market, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Australia has highlighted the importance of the two nation's responsibility to work together and develop trade in the Asia-Pacific.
For China and Australia, the stability and prosperity of the region relies on access to the free market and the global economy.
"Given the less than desirable global economic recovery, the push-back against globalization, rising protectionism, heightened geopolitical rivalry and local conflicts, the existing international order and system is being called into question," Li said in a signed article published Wednesday on The Australian, a leading national newspaper.
In fact, China as well, faces its own trade challenges.
Its free trade agreement with Australia runs at a deficit, with the Aussies exporting more and importing less than China.
But Premier Li's answer to this problem is not to reject free trade. Instead, he plans to open the door even wider.
"Cutting oneself off could neither ensure success of one's own endeavor nor peace and development of the world at large. A trade war will not make trade fairer. Protectionism offers no genuine protection," Li said.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agrees with the stance made by China and reiterated in an article for the Australian Financial Review that Australia remains committed to championing trade liberalisation and welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping's robust defence of open markets in Davos.
Turnbull added that the result of China and Australia's outward-looking cooperation on trade is "30 years of rising living standards."
"In China, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted from poverty. In Australia, real incomes have doubled since 1975," Turnbull said.
Engagement of the two countries will feature as a key driver that underpins the economic and political security of the region.
"Australia and China's relationship is quite incredible in a sense, because it's very successful," Professor James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, told Xinhua.
"Australia and China have very different histories, cultures, languages, values even. So it's important that the relationship is coming from a solid foundation, and leader visits are an important part of building that foundation," Laurenceson said.
"Last year, Prime Minister Turnbull was in China, in 2014 President Xi Jinping came to Australia, now we have Premier Li visiting us, so look, it's a good sign for the future of the relationship when you have leaders from both countries committing to the relationship," Laurenceson added.
Executive Director of the University of New South Wales International Laurie Pearcey echoed these thoughts, telling Xinhua that "the Chinese premier's visit will ensure that the framework for the ongoing development of bilateral relations is exceptionally strong."
"Without the ongoing mobility and the dialogue between the leaders at the highest levels of our government, then everything else that follows is just simply not possible," Pearcey said.
He said that China is pushing for economic reforms and playing a role as a champion for globalization. Australia is certainly doing the same.