In recognition of the critical role that youth diplomacy has within the Australia-China bilateral relationship, the Australia-China Youth Dialogue has made history by being the first youth organisation to be offered a seat on the table of the highest-level track 1.5 dialogue with the People’s Republic of China – the Australia-China Forum. Following on from the success of the third annual Australia-China Youth Dialogue, convened in Beijing and Chengdu from 19-24 October 2012, ACYD Founder Henry Makeham was subsequently invited to join the Australia-China Forum in Beijing as the Australia-China Youth Dialogue delegate. Henry was invited to speak on intensifying personnel and cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia.
The ACF considers the entirety of the Australia-China relationship. Initiated in 2010 by former Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith during the visit to Australia by Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, the objectives of the ACF are to enhance mutual understanding and trust between Australia and China, and to promote the sound and steady development of bilateral relations.
The second annual ACF was held in Beijing from November 14-15. The Australian Delegation was led by Professor the Hon Gareth Evans QC (Chancellor of the ANU and former Minister of Foreign Affairs), Frances Adamson (Australian Ambassador to China), Trevor Rowe (Executive Chairman, Rothschild Australia), Catherine Tanna (Chairman, BG Group Australia), David Olsson (Senior Partner, King & Wood Mallesons), the Hon. Andrew Leigh MP (Federal Member for Fraser), Michael Gallagher (Executive Director of the G8 Universities Group) and Rowan Callick (Asia Pacific Editor, The Australian).
The Chinese delegation was led by Li Zhaoxing (Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, former Minister of Foreign Affairs) and some of the delegates included Zhou Wenzhong, (Secretary-General of the Boao Asia Forum), Tang Maoheng (a senior manager at the Bank of China), Fang Quichen (North America and Oceania head of the Commerce Ministry), Zhou Dadi, (the National Development and Reform Commission’s leading energy expert) and Wang Hui (China Daily’s international opinion editor).
Through its annual event with fifteen future leaders from both countries, the ACYD aims to break down misconceptions while enhancing mutual respect, trust and understanding between future stakeholders in Australia-China affairs. Given the close alignment of the objectives of both the ACF and the ACYD, it is hoped that in due course there will be some overlap between the activities of the ACF and the ACYD going forward.