President Xi Jinping has called for increased economic and strategic cooperation with Australia, suggesting continued enthusiasm for a free trade agreement between the two nations.
As he met visiting Governor-General of Australia Quentin Bryce in Beijing on Thursday, Xi said the two nations should fully explore the potential in Sino-Australian cooperation.
Xi's comments come in the wake of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's comments earlier this month, expressing hope that a free trade agreement between the two countries could be concluded soon.
Stressing the rapid development of bilateral ties and the establishment of a strategic partnership, Xi said the common interests of the two countries continue to expand against a backdrop of profound and complex changes in the international situation.
From a strategic and long-term perspective, Xi said, the two sides should create a new phase of Sino-Australian cooperation, built on a solid basis of mutual trust, reciprocity and the win-win principle.
The two countries should develop and diversify cooperation on energy resources, infrastructure, financial services, environmental protection, clean energy, biomedicine and other emerging industries, Xi said.
After meeting with Xi, Bryce also met Premier Li Keqiang.
Noticing Australia is actively working on upgrading its infrastructure and has started a feasibility study into building its first high-speed railway, Li said China's railway technologies are "advanced, reliable and economically competitive".
He said the two countries could explore cooperation in the railway sector.
Hua Junduo, former Chinese ambassador to Australia, said the newly elected Australian government is fairly pragmatic in its approach to developing bilateral relations with China.
"However, the two countries' cooperation on regional issues and under multilateral mechanisms remains limited. If the two sides can enhance coordination, more common interests will be developed," Hua added.
During their meeting, Xi stressed that Beijing and Canberra should also strengthen exchanges on education, tourism, science and technology, and the younger generations, in order to promote mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
He also emphasised coordination and cooperation under multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, G20, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, to contribute more to regional and global development.
Regarding Bryce's attendance at the 14th Western China International Fair in Chengdu, Sichuan province, next week, Xi said that western China is the new engine of the nation's economic growth and will bring more opportunities for foreign countries, including Australia.
Before the meeting, Xi greeted Bryce with a grand welcoming ceremony and a 21-gun salute outside the Great Hall of the People.