Today marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Australia. But their relationship hit some barriers recently, following the Australian government's decision to pursue a more pro-US approach and even establish laws to prevent what it says is Chinese intervention in Australian politics. Due to strong economic and cultural ties, experts say it is important for the two sides to find ways to cool off. Xu Xinchen has more.
Over $50bn worth of exports to China and some $30bn of goods imported from China, that is how strong the economic ties between Australia and China are. Australia, however, has taken a different approach to its relationship with China, as it fears losing the U.S. as its security backbone.
GREG McCARTHY, PROFESSOR OF AUSTRALIAN POLITICS UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: What's happened in recent period is the concern in Australia on what America is doing. Is American pulling back? Therefore, the rhetoric we are using is trying to encourage America to come in.
SUN YOUZHONG, PRESIDENT CHINESE ASSOCIATION FOR AUSTRALIAN STUDIES: Australia now has openly declared its close relationship with the United States, joining in the so-called Indo-Pacific alliance.
Ties between the two countries have been strained in recent months. In early December, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced several new laws to prevent political interference from foreign countries. While the laws didn't target China alone, Australian media have been linking incidents involving Chinese students studying in Australia and Chinese businessmen's donations to Australian political parties with the new laws.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that China has no interest in interfering with Australian politics.
GENG SHUANG CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: China has no interest in interfering with Australia's domestic politics. Neither does China have the interest to use political money to get involved with Australian domestic issues.
China is Australia's largest trade partner. In the first nine months of this year, China's imports from Australia accounted for over one third of Australia's total, and China's exports to Australia also took up almost one quarter of Australia's total imports in the same period -- doubling the amount from the U.S.
In addition to trade ties, Australia is a popular destination for Chinese students studying abroad, and vise versa. China is the second largest overseas destination for students from Australia.
ROWAN CALLICK CHINA CORRESPONDENT, THE AUSTRALIAN： Mutual interests and people-to-people links are so strong and so powerful now, you can't disengage.
CHEN HONG, DIRECTOR AUSTRALIAN STUDIES CENTRE, EAST CHINA NORMAL UNIVERSITY: The 45-year-long relationship has developed to this day, and it has been to the benefit of both countries and peoples. Such a relationship has been so constructive. I believe actually that both countries are taking serious measures to contain and control the situation.
Scholars urge the two countries to communicate on current issues. For Australia, it would hurt the country economically by severing ties with China. China could not lose Australia either as the country continues to lead the call for globalization.