Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visits to Australia and New Zealand have boosted economic relations with the two countries while sending a strong response to widespread protectionism. [Special coverage]
The trip, which was wrapped up on Wednesday, coincided with the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the two countries.
This is also the first visit to either country by a Chinese premier in 11 years.
STRONG RESPONSE TO PROTECTIONISM
Amid the rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalization, especially among some major developed economies, the Chinese premier's visits to Australia and New Zealand, both advocates and long-time beneficiaries of economic globalization, took on new significance.
The new trend is a grave concern for Australia. Christine Holgate, CEO of Australian vitamin maker Blackmores, told Xinhua that she was worried about the anti-globalization trend.
However, Holgate felt "inspired" by Li's remarks about free trade and China-Australia economic ties.
"First, I have come for free trade. The world is seeing a rising tide of trade protectionism and growing backlash against globalization," Li said at a luncheon hosted by his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, in the Australian capital of Canberra.
"We are ready to enhance relevant cooperation with Australia and demonstrate to the region and the world our determination to uphold trade liberalization and economic globalization," Li added.
At the China-Australia Economy and Trade Cooperation Forum on Friday, Li and Turnbull agreed to promote trade facilitation and liberalization.
Echoing Li, Turnbull said at the forum that protectionism is "not a ladder to get out of the low-growth trap," but "a shovel to dig it deeper."
Free trade was also highlighted during Li's visit to New Zealand, where he hailed economic globalization, represented by trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, as a major driving force for rapid world economic development.
The development processes of both China and New Zealand show that only through openness and inclusiveness can a country prosper, Li told more than 500 people from local political, business and academic circles at a welcoming luncheon on Tuesday in Auckland.
China is willing to work with New Zealand and other countries to build a community of shared future for mankind and improve global economic governance so as to let more countries and people benefit from globalization, said Li.
Stressing the importance of the authority and effectiveness of multilateral trade system, the premier urged the two countries to promote the setup of open and transparent regional free trade arrangements.
While stating that China will steadfastly expand opening-up, and open its doors wider, Li said China takes an open attitude toward any free trade arrangement that would promote regional economic integration.
CHEERING NEWS TO AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES
From Canberra to Sydney, from meetings to forums, Li's reassuring note about China's staunch commitment to free trade and strengthened bilateral economic ties is cheering news to Australian businesses.