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Source: Australian Treasurer

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It was my pleasure today to be at the Australian Strategic Forum to talk about the remarkable transformation of the Chinese economy over the last four decades and the importance of China to Australia and our economic relationship. China is our number one trading partner. A third of our exports go to China, more than a million Chinese tourists visit our shores every year and more than 200,000 Chinese students are studying in our education institutions. 

It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship. In fact, our exports, whether they are resources, agriculture or, increasingly, service related exports, helping to support the growth in the Chinese economy. But there are some challenges and those challenges are playing out right now in the trade tensions between the United States and China. Australia’s message publicly is the same message privately; that those differences need to be resolved, the parties need to come to the negotiating table, that we need to all commit to our rules-based transparent trading system. 

One in five Australian jobs is related to trade and one in ten Australian jobs are with businesses that have benefited from foreign investment. Trade and investment strongly benefits the Australian economy and helps to create more jobs here.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, what concerns do you have over China’ decision to deny Andrew Hastie and James Patterson visas?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s deeply disappointing, it’s counter-productive. They were two of my colleagues who were hoping to engage with the Chinese people and to learn more about that country. So this decision is deeply disappointing.

QUESTION:

And what does that say about the relationship between China and Australia, that decision in particular? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, obviously we will strongly differ with China about that particular decision and we continue to make the case that their needs to be the open door to Australian Parliamentarians and others who want to visit China and we don’t think this was the right decision. But ultimately, our relationship with China is very broadly based. It covers a whole range of areas and as the Treasurer, I want to see that economic relationship continue to deliver dividends for the Australian people. I want to see that relationship continue to be in our national interest.

QUESTION:

When it comes to Australian data-rich companies, can we expect to see the Federal Government not back international companies buying Australian businesses if their data rich?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

When it comes to investment, there is a greater focus on critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure comprises what you may consider to be its traditional areas; energy, water, telecommunications, particularly transport infrastructure projects, but also, increasingly so, data and the retention of private or particularly sensitive data. So we’re taking a broader approach to the definition of critical infrastructure to include the purchase of companies that may have with them significant and sensitive data.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, is the Government concerned about documents published in the New York Times today showing that China has detained hundreds of prisoners who are Uighurs?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, Marise Payne has made it very clear our concern about those reports and we have also consistently maintained publicly and privately what our position is when it comes to the Uighurs and to their rights and China’s responsibilities. We have seen deeply disturbing video footage as well and Australia joined with a number of other countries in a joint statement at the United Nations recently on the topic of the Uighurs.

QUESTION:

We’ve also had more unrest today in Hong Kong, clearly it’s a big trading partner to Australia. What are your thoughts on with the ongoing violence there? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, Australia is concerned about any escalation of those tensions. What we’ve seen in Hong Kong, playing out on the streets on a daily basis, what we want to see, obviously, is the temperature taken down and people’s safety and security being managed. Thank you. 

MIL OSI News