Today marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and China.
The opening of diplomatic relations on 21 December, 1972 was a turning point in our bilateral relationship and paved the way for the comprehensive, constructive and cooperative relationship we have today.
Prime Minister Whitlam's decision to recognise the People's Republic of China was visionary and historic. For Australia, engagement with China reflected our more confident voice on the world stage.
To mark this historic event, Prime Minister Gillard and Premier Wen have today exchanged letters of congratulation.
The Prime Minister hosted a Gala Dinner in Parliament House on 12 December to mark the 40th anniversary with State Councillor Liu Yandong as the special guest of honour.
I was also pleased to host a Gala Dinner during my visit to Beijing earlier this year in honour of 40 years of diplomatic relations.
Forty years on from Whitlam's visit, our relationship with China is one of our most important.
In those four decades, the value of trade between Australia and China has grown a thousand fold - China is our largest trading partner. Australian resources have helped power China's economic growth.
Today we welcome half a million Chinese visitors to Australia each year, and over 350,000 Australians visit China each year.
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese students have trained in Australia - last year alone there were more than one hundred thousand Chinese students studying in our country.
Our Government-to-Government relations are strong and broad.
I am confident that the remarkable relationship that has flourished between our countries will continue to grow in the years ahead.