Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (3rd L) arrives with his wife Cheng Hong (4th L) in Canberra, Australia, March 22, 2017, for an official visit to Australia at the invitation of his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull. Li and Turnbull will hold the fifth annual meeting of the two prime ministers. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)
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.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of China's diplomatic ties with Australia. The substantial development in bilateral ties and cooperation has delivered numerous tangible benefits to both peoples, said Li in a written statement upon his arrival.
Li hoped that his visit could usher in new prospects of bilateral cooperation in various fields and push forward the continuous, sound and steady development of China-Australia relations in the spirit of mutual respect, equal treatment and win-win cooperation.
Noting the sluggish global economic recovery and a rising trend of anti-globalization and protectionism, Li said that China and Australia, as two influential countries, have forged consensus, deepened cooperation, jointly sent a positive signal of facilitating trade and investment and fighting agaist protectionism, and yielded more dividends driven by free trade agreement.
It is conductive to better achieving mutual benefit and win-win, and contributing to the stability and development in the region and the world at large, Li added.
During his five-day stay, Premier Li and Turnbull will hold the fifth annual meeting of the two prime ministers. They will also attend a forum on China-Australia economic and trade cooperation.
Both sides are going to discuss their free trade agreement, which took effect in December 2015, and ways to further boost bilateral cooperation in technology, trade and investment, energy, education and tourism.
Li is also expected to meet Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and parliamentary officials.
In a signed article published on Wednesday by The Australian, a local leading newspaper, the Chinese premier called on the two countries to continue to work together and jointly help counter global instability through steady development and cooperation.
"We stand ready to work with other countries to support economic globalization and free trade, improve the global governance system and facilitate progress of mankind," Li said in the article.
China is Australia's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade hit 108 billion U.S. dollars last year. Accumulative two-way investment exceeded 100 billion dollars.
People-to-people exchanges also have soared as the two-way trips between the two countries reached nearly 2 million last year. This year marks the China-Australia Year of Tourism.
"Since coming into effect, the China-Australia free trade agreement (FTA) has yielded continuous dividends, as evidenced by the more than 50 percent year-on-year growth in Australian exports of milk powder, red wine and dietary supplements to China, which are among the most sought-after overseas products for Chinese consumers," he wrote.
Li also said that the two countries may further open up markets to each other to generate greater FTA-driven prosperity and make bilateral economic cooperation and trade more diverse and sustainable.
The Australian prime minister hailed the good momentum of bilateral relations before Li's visit.
"This visit will highlight Australia's strong economic relationship with China and our mutual commitment to encouraging trade and investment in our region," said Turnbull said in a recent statement.
After his Australian trip, the Chinese premier will pay an official visit to New Zealand. This year also marks the 45th anniversary of China's diplomatic ties with New Zealand.