China: Australia should look beyond the nations' differences

BEIJING - (AP) -- China hopes Australia will continue to look beyond the countries' ideological differences and focus on bilateral business ties and other forms of cooperation, a senior Chinese official said Tuesday.

Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang was responding to comments by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier this month that China can only reach its full economic potential if it embraces democracy.

Zheng told journalists that Australia and its largest trading partner had "gone beyond our ideological differences ... to make the pie of cooperation and common interests bigger." He said China hopes that Australia will "continue to uphold this spirit, abandon the zero sum or ideologically biased mentality and view China and China-Australia relations in the right light."

Zheng said that annual China-Australia bilateral trade had exceeded $107 billion and bilateral investment exceeded $100 billion, and that the bilateral trade volume in the first two months of 2017 had grown nearly 50 percent year-on-year.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang begins a seven-day trip to Australia and New Zealand on Wednesday. Zheng said China hopes to enhance free trade agreements with both nations and promote cooperation in science, technology and innovation.

China wishes to "make China-Australia business cooperation more diverse and more sustainable," Zheng said.

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