SYDNEY, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Victoria state has achieved huge success by actively promoting a major strategy to tap China-related development, with some of the 10-year targets met in two years, its Premier Daniel Andrews said.
"From a Victorian point of view, our relationship, our friendship and partnership with China has never been stronger, and never been more to us than it does right now," Andrews told Xinhua earlier this week.
The state launched its China Strategy in 2016 and set ambitious growth targets for investment, jobs, trade, tourism, education and other sectors to further strengthen economic and cultural ties with Australia's largest trading partner and create more business opportunities.
Victoria's share of Chinese investment to Australia has risen from 8 percent to 25 percent, exceeding the 10-year target of 20 percent, according to the state's China Strategy Progress Report 2018 published recently.
State exports to China have also increased from 6.5 million Australian dollars (4.86 million U.S. dollars) to 10 billion Australian dollars. Overnight expenditure by Chinese visitors to the state similarly grew from 2.2 billion Australian dollars to 2.7 billion Australian dollars, according to the report.
Chinese students are also heading to Victoria and its capital Melbourne at record levels, with the number of Chinese post-graduate enrolments in the state growing by almost 43 percent in two years to more than 20,000 currently.
"This is perhaps the statistics that I'm most proud of, given how competitive the international education market is," Andrews said.
"That's such a compliment for our educational institutions, to the fact that we are a safe, inclusive, respectful, diverse and welcoming city and state."
Looking back at the two years of gains, Andrews said the most important thing is that Victoria attaches great importance to its relations with China and emphasizes mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit.
"We won't take anything for granted. We value very acutely our partnership, our friendship and the fact that we work together so closely," said Andrews who has been making annual trips to China as premier.
Andrews has also requested his Cabinet members to visit China at least once. In 2017, he was the only leader of an Australian state to be invited to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing.
Sister-state relationship with China's Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces have brought Victoria and China even closer. Victoria boasts the biggest network of overseas offices of any Australian state, with five offices operating in major cities in China. Melbourne alone has direct flights to 12 major Chinese cities.
The state's impressive gains come amid latest calls by several leading Australian figures in the public and private sector, including former prime minister Kevin Rudd, for the government to improve relations with China, against concerns fueled by Australian media reports and a number of politicians over increasing Chinese development and influence.
"Yes, there are some challenges in the Australia-China relationship at the moment, but I wouldn't overplay that," Andrews said.
"I think we remain very close partners with so much in common and so many opportunities to share together."
Over the next few years, Victoria aims to further strengthen government alliances within China's economic development zones and strive to be Australia's center of excellence for Asian insights and capabilities. It will also continue to build connections through reciprocal partnerships.
To that effect, the state is working with a Chinese company to build the first heart hospital in Australia of its kind to conduct research into cardiac conditions. Other projects include developing new anti-cancer drugs to benefit patients in both countries.
Zhao Jian, consul general of the Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne, has said it is important that the Victorian government and people believe that exchange and cooperation stem from long-term partnership based on mutual respect, understanding and trust.