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China, Australia seek broader economic ties

From Jo Ling Kent, CNN
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Australian PM walks tightrope in Beijing
  • Australian prime minister visits her country's largest trading partner
  • She says she raised human rights concerns with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao
  • "The two countries should seek a long-term ... cooperation," Chinese official says
  • Julia Gillard
  • Wen Jiabao
  • Australia
  • China

Beijing (CNN) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday concluded her two-day visit to Beijing aimed at broadening relations between the two nations.

Gillard met with President Hu Jintao on Wednesday morning.

She also joined her Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao for a closed-door bilateral meeting.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang expressed hope for a broader relationship between the two.

"The two countries should seek a long-term stable and strategic cooperation in energy and resources, rather than maintain a simple buyer-seller relationship," Li said late Tuesday at an economic and trade forum, according to Chinese state media.

Li said the two nations can benefit from each other, according to Xinhua news agency.

"There is room for the two countries to work together in this sector as Australia is vigorously boosting infrastructure construction while Chinese businesses have expertise and advanced technologies," Li said.

Gillard said she discussed human rights issues with Wen.

"I raised our concerns about human rights, ethnic minorities, religious freedom and in relation to the treatment of human rights activists," Gillard told reporters later during a news conference.

"Premier Wen did listen to the concerns that I raised," Gillard said. "He did indicate his view is China has not taken a backward step on human rights."

When asked if she was satisfied with Wen's response, Gillard replied, "What we do is raise our concerns and I've done that very clearly with Premier Wen."

Gillard's cautious approach to China's human rights record reflects the reality that it is Australia's largest trading partner, overtaking Japan in 2009. China currently purchases more than one-quarter of Australia's exports.

"People are hungry for our commodities exports, they're hungry for our energy exports so I'm very confident these export industries have a very bright future," Gillard said.

Gillard also took a private tour of the Forbidden City with partner Tim Mathieson.

She is leaving China on Thursday for London, where she will attend the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

CNN's Stan Grant contributed to this report.