Government-to-Government Links

Australia and China have an expanding network of government-to-government links at all levels of government. Australia's federal, state and local governments are engaging with China through a variety of channels and on a broad set of common interests. A comprehensive program of high-level visits and an extensive suite of agreements and bilateral dialogues support this engagement. Australia and China are working together in multilateral and regional forums, such as G20, EAS and APEC to ensure global and regional stability and prosperity.

Bilateral Relationship

Since Australia established diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China in1972 the dialogue between Australian and Chinese leaders has significantly expanded in frequency and depth, which shows the strength and resilience of the relationship.

In 2013 Australia and China agreed to new consultative arrangements which will further strengthen the bilateral engagement. Both countries agreed to formalise an annual leaders’ dialogue between the Australian Prime Minister and the Chinese Premier; an annual Foreign and Strategic Dialogue between foreign ministers; and an annual Economic Cooperation Dialogue between Australia’s Treasurer and Trade Minister, and the head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

The bilateral relationship is also enhanced by the range of official dialogues and consultation mechanisms that Australia and China have established to advance cooperation and manage differences. Dialogues cover bilateral, regional and global issues, including trade and economic cooperation resources, aid, defence, regional security, disarmament, human rights, climate change and consular matters.

DFAT People's Republic of China country brief provides a comprehensive overview of the bilateral relationship between Australia and China DFAT – Countries and Regions – China (See also Taiwan; Hong Kong; Macau)

Australia and China concluded a joint statement on the bilateral relationship during then Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Australia in October 2009. The joint statement reaffirmed the two sides' willingness to enhance cooperation in various fields, and promote the expansion of the relationship. Australia and China - joint statement

Australia and China have a growing range of common interests, and are actively collaborating in multilateral and regional forums:

The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and decision-making, with members from 19 countries plus the European Union.

The United Nations and, during 2013 and 2014, the United Nations Security Council

World Trade Organization (WTO)

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a key forum for security dialogue in Asia.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a regional leaders' forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on key challenges facing the East Asian region.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum brings together 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific region. Its primary purpose is to facilitate economic growth and prosperity in the region, with the vision of creating a seamless regional economy.

Prime Minister visits China

Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaking at the launch of the Australia Week in China
Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaking at the launch of the Australia Week in China. Credit: Prime Minister's Office.

On 9 to 12 April, Prime Minister Abbott undertook his first official visit to China. During the visit, Prime Minister met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, delivered a keynote address to the Boao Forum for Asia and launched the inaugural Australia Week in China - one of the largest ever Australian trade and investment events to be held in China.

PM was accompanied on his visit by no fewer than two Ministers, five State Premiers and a Chief Minister and 700-strong trade delegation, including a group of Chairmen and Chief Executives of Australia’s leading companies, education and cultural institutions.

The visit achieved significant outcomes across the wide spectrum of bilateral engagement:

In education and science - from next year, China has agreed to take Australian government-funded students under the New Colombo Plan. The renewed funding of AUD$10 million from 2014-15 over four years will be provided to the Australia-China Science and Research Fund – one of the key elements of the bilateral science and innovation partnership.

On the economic front, Australian and Chinese leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to accelerate the negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement. Australia is expanding the approved destination status scheme to Chinese tour groups. Australia is also working towards making Sydney an offshore Renminbi centre.

Prime Minister also announced the establishment of a new High-Level Dialogue which will enhance and elevate the existing Australia-China Forum, chaired on Australian side by former Treasurer Peter Costello. The Dialogue will facilitate closer and more extensive exchanges between Australian and Chinese political, business, academic and cultural leaders.

Australia and China also agreed on the expansion of defence exchanges, including exercises between the respective militaries and more active participation in trilateral and multilateral exercises.

State and Territories

Australian Capital Territory – Shenzhen City Cooperation

In October 2014, Katy Gallagher MLA, ACT Chief Minister concluded a successful visit to China, during which she signed economic cooperation agreement with the Mayor of Shenzhen Mr Xǔ Qín. The agreement marks a new phase of collaboration between Canberra and one of China’s leading economic hubs.

The agreement will enable and promote two-way investment and engagement between the two cities, its companies and institutions in the areas of technology, innovation, tourism and industry.

This agreement expands Canberra’s existing sister-city relationship with Beijing, which was established in 2000 and opens new avenues of engagement between Canberra and China’s dynamic Pearl River Delta region.


Shenzhen-based LeTV news coverage of the ACT Chief Minister's visit
Shenzhen-based LeTV news coverage of the ACT Chief Minister's visit

Victorian Government: Engaging China – Strengthening Victoria

Victoria and China have a long history of friendship and collaboration. Their connection dates back to the goldfields in the 1850s, which laid the foundation for a thriving Chinese community and today’s vibrant State. The Victorian Government’s China Strategy outlines a plan to strengthen our ties so all Victorians can take part in trade, educational or cultural engagement with China.Engaging China - Strengthening Victoria  

The Victorian Government also coordinates programmed events, site visits and business matching meetings. The direct cost to participants will include items such as airfares and accommodation. Eligible companies may be entitled to claim up to $3,000 towards expenses incurred under the Victorian Government Trade Mission Assistance Program. Trade Mission Assistance Program  

Victoria has a strong relationship with China which includes a history of mutual business participation. Victorian Government Business Offices in Shanghai, Nanjing and Hong Kong play a vital role in the facilitation of trade and investment. Invest Victoria - China  

South Australian Government: South Australia-China Engagement Strategy

The South Australian Government has developed a strategy that reinforces its determination to build a strong, productive and long-term relationship with China. South Australia-China Engagement Strategy

Queensland Government: China Towards 2016

China Towards 2016 is a long-term plan to ensure the China market grows in a positive, sustainable way in partnership with the wider Queensland industry. The implementation of the plan will ensure the Queensland industry is ready to welcome more Chinese visitors and deliver to them high quality experience. Queensland Government - China Towards 2016          See also: Tourism Queensland - China Towards 2016

2013 marks the 24th anniversary of Queensland’s sister-state relationship with Shanghai, while Queensland also has a longstanding friendship agreement with Guangdong Province. These relationships have played a significant role in Queensland’s economic and cultural landscape. Trade and Investment Queensland - China

New South Wales Government: Trade and Investment – International Engagement Strategy – China

A NSW Strategy for China has been prepared to target areas for further engagement with China and to build on NSW’s existing trade and investment successes. Trade and Investment - International Engagement Strategy - China

Destination NSW’s China Tourism Strategy will guide business development and consumer marketing activity between 2012–2020. The strategy is directed towards ensuring that NSW keeps pace with the rapid expansion of geographic source markets within China and the changing travel preferences of maturing consumer segments. Destination NSW's China Tourism Strategy

Western Australian Government: Our Directions in China

China is a rapidly growing market in the global economy and with an expected 15-20 per cent increase per year in outbound travel over the next 10 years; it presents many opportunities for Western Australia. Western Australian Government developed ‘Our Directions in China’ strategy that will guide the development of WA’s engagement with China. Our Directions in China

Northern Territory Government: China Minerals Investment Attraction Strategy

A China Minerals Investment Attraction Strategy was launched in 2007 to competitively position the Northern Territory as a preferred location for China’s mineral and metal demands. China Minerals Investment Attraction Strategy

Tasmanian Government: Tasmania’s Place in the Asian Century

The size and rapid growth of Asian economies means that Asia will dominate the global economy in the 21st Century. This is the most transformative economic shift of power in generation and Tasmanian will need to adapt to the economic transition that will result from the growth in Asian economies. The key purpose of the Tasmanian White Paper is to answer the following question: How can Tasmania best position itself to capture current and emerging economic opportunities in Asia? Tasmania’s Place in the Asian Century

Australian Capital Territory Government: ACT in the Asian Century

The Australian Government's 'Australia in the Asian Century' White Paper has given added impetus to the action the ACT government is taking to connect ACT economy with the booming economies of Asia.  The government is working across seven key action areas to harness the opportunities of Asia's growth and use it to continue the growth and diversification of the ACT economy. ACT in the Asian Century

Last Updated: 13 November 2013
Foreign Minister Bishop shaking hands with Wang Yi
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop with H.E. Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China at the United Nations in New York, October 2013.(Credit: Trevor Collens)
police watch performers in colourful costumes on the city streets
Chinese New Year celebrations in Sydney, 2012 (Photo courtesy of the Sydney City Council)

Sister-City Relationships

Australia and China currently have 83 sister-sate/province and sister-city relationships. Sister Cities Australia Inc. (SCA) is an association of cities, towns, shires, ports and states that have a Sister City/State relationship. It keeps a register of all Australian affiliations, of which it is aware, and welcomes additions to the listing. Sister Cities Australia  

Some of the examples of how sister-city partnerships between Australia and China are formed and evolving:

Brisbane - Chongqing

The 2005 Asia Pacific Cities Summit hosted by Chongqing, People’s Republic of China, saw the signing of the Brisbane-Chongqing Sister City Agreement. Brisbane - Chongqing

Brisbane - Shenzhen

The sister city relationship between Brisbane and Shenzhen is significant and long-standing, having been formalised in 1992. The relationship is currently focusing on economic cooperation and mutual business development opportunities. Brisbane - Shenzhen

Perth – Nanjing

The Sister City agreement with the City of Nanjing, China was officially established in May 1998. Perth - Nanjing

Perth – Taipei

The Sister City agreement with Taipei, in Taiwan, was signed on April 12, 1999, and is the most recent Charter. Perth - Taipei

Adelaide – Dalian, Chengdu and Qingdao

Adelaide currently has three Sister City agreements with cities in China – Dalian, Chengdu and Qingdao since 2001. Adelaide - Dalian, Chengdu and Qingdao