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Australia's Turnbull Visits China, Talks Trade

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, center right, walks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2016.

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed trade ties but has avoided sensitive political topics in China this week, addressing business audiences in Shanghai before meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

Turnbull is expected to meet with President Xi Jinping Friday.

Turnbull praised the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement that will eventually eliminate tariffs on most Australian products sold to China.

Looking to boost visits to his country, which received more than 1 million Chinese tourists last year, Turnbull also said Australia will grant 10-year visas to Chinese nationals.

For the first time, the country will offer visa applications in Chinese and online, Turnbull said Thursday in Shanghai.

Trade surplus

Bilateral trade between China and Australia was valued at $115 billion last year, down 6.3 percent from the previous year because of China's decreasing demands for iron ore, coal and other resources.

Australia is one of the few developed economies to run a trade surplus with the world's second-largest economy.

"It is with these objectives in mind that we embrace all of the extraordinary opportunities presented by China's own economic transition toward a more consumption-drive economy," Turnbull said in prepared remarks.

Despite its strong financial relations with China, Australia is a political ally of the United States, which has confronted China about its controversial activity in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese community leaders in Australia warned the prime minister to stay away from the sensitive topic during his talks in China. He has not yet mentioned it in any of his speeches, although he is expected to touch on the subject during his meetings with Li and Xi.

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