China Official Pushes Australia Ties

CANBERRA—Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping used his visit to Canberra Monday to push for deeper ties over energy and resources, underscoring China’s role as a major consumer of Australia’s mineral wealth.


Xi Jinping, China’s vice president, right, speaks with Simon Crean, Australia’s trade minister, at the Australia China Trade and Economic Forum lunch, at Parliament House, in Canberra, Australia, on Monday.

Mr. Xi, seen as the probable successor to China President Hu Jintao, also called for mutually beneficial free-trade deal to be sealed at an "early date." Negotiators are due to begin the 15th round of talks on the long-coveted trade pact in Beijing next week.

The trade relationship with Australia is becoming "more innovative" as it develops and an FTA would be of "strategic interest to both countries," Mr. Xi said.

The Chinese vice president’s remarks, made through an interpreter, could give the talks fresh momentum. Still, Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean noted Monday that substantial obstacles remain, chiefly because China has never before negotiated a trade pact with a country with such extensive agricultural and resources interests as Australia.


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