Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, right, is remembered for the international ties he forged, especially with China.

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Former Australian Prime Minister Edward Gough Whitlam has passed away

Whitlam, who was 98, was Australia's longest-lived Prime Minister

He is remembered for the international links he created

CNN  — 

Edward Gough Whitlam, the former Australian Prime Minister who strengthened ties abroad, has died, the Australian government said Monday.

At 98 years old, he was the longest-lived Prime Minister in Australia’s history.

He served as the country’s 21st Prime Minister, from 1972 to 1975.

“We remember his lifetime of service to Australia in the Royal Australian Air Force, as a parliamentarian, as Prime Minister and as an ambassador,” the government announcement said. “Gough Whitlam was a giant of his time.”

Under his leadership, Australia entered into a number of international agreements that shaped Australia’s economy.

Whitlam established diplomatic relations between Australia and China, and was the first Australian Prime Minister to visit there, according to the government statement.

China is now Australia’s largest trading partner.

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