Fourth mission in China opens

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has opened Australia's fourth diplomatic mission in mainland China, in the western metropolis of Chengdu, saying it will provide a launching pad into the region's fast-paced growth.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has opened Australia's fourth diplomatic mission in mainland China, in the western metropolis of Chengdu, saying it will provide a launching pad into the region's fast-paced growth.

The minister said China's fastest growing cities, and seven of the top eight provinces, were situated inland, and the consulate in Chengdu would help "press Australian businesses into western China", particularly as the bilateral economic relationship moved beyond resources-dominated trade.

"The fact is that this is a relationship between Australia and the new urbanised China," he said. "As hundreds of millions more Chinese gravitate to these great cities there will be a need for Australian goods and services."

But Senator Carr repeated a warning from his department from a briefing paper in April that said it was concerned business disputes had resulted in criminal charges, which was "putting considerable strain on the bilateral relationship".

"With the rising level of trade in the two countries, there's probably no surprise that the number of commercial disputes has been rising and we want to provide guidance on how best to manage this challenge," Senator Carr said.

High-profile cases involving jailed Australian business people including Du Zuying, Charlotte Chou and Matthew Ng have tended to involve murky disputes with their often powerful local business partners.

Australia's ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, said the commercial disputes initiative was not an indication of a large increase in incidents.

"But the best way we can help is to be on the front foot," she said. "A couple of things have crossed my desk but nothing more."

Chinese negotiators have also been driving a hard bargain by demanding Australia relax investment restrictions before it considers entering a free trade agreement.

But Senator Carr said he did not understand why Chinese would find it difficult to invest in Australia. "I can't think of any reason that should be the case," he said, adding he also could not see the justification for many Australians to be wary of Chinese foreign investment, as was suggested by a recent Lowy Institute poll.

The consulate in Chengdu will be headed up by Nancy Gordon. It will join Australia's other diplomatic missions in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

InvestSMART FORUM: Come and meet the team

We're loading up the van and going on tour from April to June, with events on the NSW central & north coast, the QLD mid-north coast and in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Come and meet the team and take home simple strategies that you can use to build an investment portfolio to weather any storm. Book your spot here.

Want access to our latest research and new buy ideas?

Start a free 15 day trial and gain access to our research, recommendations and market-beating model portfolios.

Sign up for free

Related Articles