This year is the 40th anniversary of Australia-China diplomatic relations. Australia regards the relationship with China as one of its most important. The bilateral relationship is based on shared interests and mutual respect, an approach which offers the best prospects to maximise shared economic interests, advance Australia's political and strategic interests, and manage differences in a sensible and practical way.
Regular high-level visits mark the maturity of the bilateral relationship and build on the friendship and understanding which has been forged by both sides over almost four decades. President Hu Jintao visited Australia in 2007, Vice President Xi Jinping visited in June 2011, and Vice Premier Li Keqiang visited in late 2009. Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited China in April 2011, followed by the Governor-General, HE Ms Quentin Bryce AC in June 2011. Ms Bryce launched the Year of Australian Culture in China. Earlier, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited twice in 2008, including for the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing. There are regular visits by Australian Ministers.
The bilateral economic relationship continues to develop rapidly. In late 2007 China overtook Japan to become Australia's largest trading partner, and in 2009 became Australia's largest export market. Australia is China's seventh largest trading partner. Forty years ago, two-way trade was less than $100 million. Now it is more than $100 billion.
Cooperation on climate change issues is an important part of the bilateral relationship. Since concluding a joint statement on closer cooperation in 2008, Australia and China have held two annual Ministerial Dialogues on Climate Change. In April 2010, Australia hosted technical workshops on greenhouse gas inventories for Chinese counterparts.
The bilateral science and research relationship has grown dramatically during the last three decades, since the treaty on science and technology cooperation was signed in 1980. Regular high-level visits demonstrate the strength and importance of the bilateral relationship. In August 2010 eminent Australian and Chinese scientists and policy makers celebrated Partners for a Better Future: Australia-China Science and Technology Week at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, highlighting the achievements of cooperation under the treaty and prospects for the future. In November 2010, Australia's Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, hosted Professor Lu Yongxiang, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, at a dinner in Canberra to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the treaty.