SYDNEY, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's APEC sideline meeting in Bali with Chinese President Xi Jinping is being closely observed back in Sydney with leading voices in government and industry applauding the new PM's early engagement.
New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell said Monday he supported moves by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to strengthen ties with China, which included a plan for a Commonwealth-led trade mission to China which would include Premiers and business leaders.
Abbott met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali on the sidelines of the APEC summit, where he delivered the message that he was committed to further growing the relationship between Australia and China.
"Tony Abbott's strategy of engaging closely with China is welcomed by the NSW government and I offer him my full support as he works to strengthen this vital relationship," Farrell said.
"It would be incredibly valuable for the NSW government to be part of a Commonwealth-led trade mission to China," he said.
"It is essential we show China that Australia is united when it comes to strengthening our economic, cultural, academic and scientific links."
"China is NSW's largest trading partner and that is why it is critical we work with the Commonwealth to enhance this relationship and examine opportunities for further growth," he added.
"The message we need to send to Chinese government leaders and potential investors is that NSW and Australia are open for business," he noted.
And that was the theme of Abbott's conversation with President Xi, assuring China that Australia was "open for business", emphasizing that the prime minister's coalition government's structural reforms, including the abolition of the mining and carbon taxes, would advance Australia's China-focused resources boom.
Abbott reportedly also told President Xi that his government is seeking diversification in the economic relationship, as Premier O 'Farrell's state government has been doing in the last years.
Earlier this year the NSW government released the International Engagement Strategy, which is the State's first whole-of- government approach to grow international trade and investment activities in NSW with priority markets, including China.
China is NSW's largest bilateral trading partner. In 2011-12, two-way merchandise trade was valued at 26.8 billion Australian dollars.
Laurie Pearcey, former CEO of the Australia China Business Council and current director of University of New South Wales(UNSW) 's China strategy told Xinhua that action was needed now if Australia was to transition its China relationship.
"Australia is kidding itself if it thinks it can eternally ride the wave of its recent terms of trade boom and this statement from the prime minister is a welcome sign that the new government takes the China relationship seriously."
Pearcey told Xinhua that the prime minister's initiative to include state premiers in trade diplomacy is long overdue.
"This means that the term 'Team Australia' will finally mean something. State governments have been doing their own thing for far too long and while its understandable that they pursue their own interests, the reality is that Brand Australia carries significant clout in-market but individual states carry limited brand recognition.