Page 2184 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 August 2015

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My visit to China on 23 and 24 June focused on the city of Shenzhen and a meeting with the vice-mayor of Shenzhen, Mr Ai Xuefeng. As I mentioned earlier, in October last year, the ACT government signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Shenzhen. The meeting provided an opportunity for me, in my capacity as Chief Minister, to reinforce the ACT government’s commitment to strengthening the Canberra-Shenzhen relationship.

It is appropriate for me to acknowledge the role of Mr Guangwei Liang, the honorary chairman and patron of the Canberra region branch of the Hong Kong-Australia Business Association, in helping to introduce our two cities to each other and also his continuing engagement in this relationship. We are grateful for his contribution. Mr Liang is also the chairman of Huaqiang Holdings Ltd, which manufactures high-tech electronic components and products. The company was founded in 1979 and is based in Shenzhen.

One of the outcomes of the memorandum signed last year is the Canberra-Shenzhen innovation intern exchange program. I was very excited to have the opportunity to introduce the first two Canberra students, Ms Elise Terrell and Mr Blair Ney, to the vice-mayor; they have since embarked on a two-month internship placement in innovative companies in Shenzhen. The innovation intern exchange program aims to bring together future innovation leaders from our two cities to foster long-term collaborative relationships. Ms Terrell and Mr Ney are living and working in Shenzhen and will develop their understanding of cultures and innovation ecosystems and become future ambassadors who will seek collaboration and partnerships between Canberra and Shenzhen.

Shenzhen is a city of innovation. The ACT, being Australia’s higher education and research capital, is also a city of innovation. We have Australia’s most highly skilled workforce and the greatest proportion of knowledge workers of any region in Australia. We look forward to working with Shenzhen to reciprocate the Canberra-Shenzhen innovation intern exchange program, with two students from Shenzhen travelling to the ACT. My government also looks forward to continuing open dialogue with the city of Shenzhen to consolidate the commitments under the memorandum.

As part of my visit, I was also invited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Guangzhou to address a group of China-based Australian alumni about the importance of the Australia-China and Canberra-Shenzhen relationships. The events again provided an opportunity to highlight the importance of universities to Canberra’s economy and to promote our city’s education credentials. The economic and cultural exchanges facilitated through collaborative partnerships such as those that I have outlined here today are the reasons why my government is committed to maintaining and maximising our robust international trade and export programs.

The ACT government has led regular trade missions to Beijing over the last 15 years, with many ACT companies establishing successful relationships and conducting positive trade in China through the introductions made on these missions. The Canberra-Beijing sister city relationship continues to be a fruitful and rewarding one for both cities.

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