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Hu: China committed to trade deals

President Hu addressed a business lunch in Sydney Thursday.
President Hu addressed a business lunch in Sydney Thursday.

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Hu Jintao
International Trade

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao has held talks with top Australian business leaders in Sydney ahead of signing a series of trade deals between the two nations.

Hu is on a four-day visit to Australia, his first to any nation since his appointment as president on the world's most populous nation six months ago.

Hu told the business leaders they would receive support from the highest levels of his government to do business in China and that Beijing was committed to cementing formal trade ties.

Earlier, in a prepared statement released after his arrival in Australia on Wednesday, Hu said a "long-term and stable relationship of all-round co-operation between China and Australia" was in the common interest of both nations.

"My current visit is aimed to enhance friendship, expand common ground, deepen co-operation and facilitate common prosperity," the statement said.

The centerpiece of Hu's visit will be an address to a joint sitting of the national parliament on Friday, one day after U.S. President George W. Bush spoke to lawmakers there. (Bush heckled in speech)

Canberra protests are expected for Hu's visit from supporters of the Falun Gong movement, Free Tibet activists and critics of China's human rights record.

Following the address, the Chinese leader is scheduled to sign a number of trade deals with Australia, including an agreement to begin a feasibility study for a possible free trade pact.

Hu is also visiting Sydney 2000 Olympic Games site Thursday to be briefed on the venues.

China's capital Beijing will be host to the 2008 Games and many Australian firms are bidding for contracts related to that event.

In a media interview Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Dower said the Australian and the Chinese economies were much more complementary than competitor economies.

"There are a lot of things China does well that we don't do," Downer told Sky News.

"There is great potential there for building these types of links between our two economies."

Australia is hoping to build on the success of last year's $17.5 billion deal to supply China with liquefied natural gas.

Already two-way trade between the nation is worth around $15 billion a year, with Australia primarily exporting energy and raw commodities, such as iron ore, and importing low-cost manufactured goods.

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