Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is looking to develop Australia's relationship with China in four key areas as she kicks off her five-day trip to the country.
Ms Gillard is leading a high-level delegation in China for talks with the country's new leaders and the business community.
She says she wants to take practical steps to strengthen and diversify the relationship with Australia’s largest trading partner.
"What that means is a relationship that extends well beyond the economic and a relationship in which Australia and China work together, not just bilaterally, but where we have common interests regionally and globally," Ms Gillard said.
The Prime Minister nominated closer ties at a leadership level, trade diversity, a more extensive relationship in areas like defence and education, and climate change mitigation as areas which all deserve attention.
Ms Gillard will meet China's new president Xi Jinping tomorrow on the sidelines of the Bo’ao Asia Forum on Hainan Island.
Today she held talks with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.
Ms Gillard says she congratulated Ms Lagarde on the IMF's recent work in trying to resolve the financial crisis in Cyprus.
She says they discussed the promising economic outlook for the Asian region.
"Put simply the economic opportunities of the region in which we live mean Australian jobs," she said.
Ms Gillard says Australia needs to maintain strong economic ties with China as it continues to develop.
"Since I was last here in April 2011, the Chinese economy has grown by 18 per cent, more than 13 million Chinese people have graduated from Chinese higher education institutions and around 100 million more Chinese people have plugged into the internet," she said.
"The rate of change is truly remarkable."
The Federal Government has also put an emphasis on defence, saying ties between the two countries could be expanded in the future, particularly in areas like disaster relief.
Ms Gillard says Australia's defence ties with China are one of the lesser known aspects of the relationship.
"It's actually one of the unremarked features of the relationship ... that at a high level we have had military to military dialogue over 16 years," she said.
"[We are] one of only two nations in the world to do so with the PLA, so there's been a long pattern of discussion and dialogue between senior military leaders in China and in Australia."
Ms Gillard did not rule out joint military exercises in the future but she says there are other areas of cooperation to be developed.
"One of the things [that] is much talked about in the region is our ability to work together in the context of humanitarian assistance and disaster response and relief," she said.
"In the region in which we live all too often we are urgently making calls to each other to see who can help out.
"So the more that you can get people working together on things like disaster relief and assistance, the better."
North Korea concerns
Ms Gillard says the situation in North Korea and Australia's concerns about human rights issues in Tibet will also be on the agenda when she meets with Chinese leaders.
The Australia Tibet Council has urged Ms Gillard to raise the increasing number of self-immolations in Tibet with China's new leadership team.
"Of course we point to concerns we have about human rights - if there are contemporary issues that have come to public attention then we raise those concerns," she said
"I think Australia’s concern about human rights is a well-known feature of our foreign policy suite ... so there isn't a standard set of words, but there is a standard set of values that Australians bring to the table in our engagement with China and around the world.
"I think there has been some concern by us, and we have raised concerns about issues in relation to Tibet and human rights matters there."
She also signalled she would also raise Australia's concerns about .
"Australia has made very clear its condemnation of the belligerent and provocative statements we have heard from North Korea," Ms Gillard said.
"We have welcomed the fact that China has supported strong sanctions at the UN Security Council.
"I will be urging the Chinese leadership to use its influence to help with this issue with North Korea, and most particularly to help see an end to these provocative statements to get North Korea to engage again with the six-party talks and to get North Korea to accept the offer of the president of South Korea for a trust-building dialogue."
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