China media: Australia ties

Chinese President Xi, Jinping right, and Australian PM Tony Abbott pledged to further boost bilateral ties Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian PM Tony Abbott praised the "deal breakthrough"

Papers welcome closer China-Australia ties after the two countries signed a major free trade agreement on Monday.

The deal, the result of decade-long negotiations, will open up markets worth billions of dollars, giving Australian dairy farmers, winemakers and other sectors tariff-free access to the huge Chinese market within a few years.

Meanwhile, China is seeking greater access for its investment projects, reports say.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed after Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting with Australian leaders in Canberra.

In a speech to the parliament in Canberra, Mr Xi pledged that China would pursue peaceful development with Australia and other nations.

Xinhua News Agency says the breakthrough brings in "epochal bilateral co-operation" and "has placed Beijing and Canberra on a new starting line".

However, it reminds readers that "this moment of victory should not breed complacency".

"The progress is also hard-earned. China and Australia do not always see eye to eye, and their FTA process was full of twists and turns," notes the news agency.

"The fact that they have overcome various hurdles and reached the present stage amply demonstrates that they have both the will and the wisdom to chart a win-win course for bilateral engagement," it adds.

The People's Daily assures that China is "determined to develop peacefully".

The daily repeats Mr Xi's call to forge closer ties with Australia, and urges both countries to continue to gain mutual trust and "build a harmonious and prosperous Asia Pacific together".

A report in the China Daily notes that the free trade agreement will "boost food co-operation".

Zhang Haisen, an expert on international agricultural co-operation at the University of International Business and Economics, tells the paper that the agricultural initiative "has unprecedented scale and will be an ongoing benefit to China, whose domestic production has been limited by fodder and food safety concerns".

Mutual trading

Elsewhere, papers hail a pilot trading scheme with Hong Kong and urge the people to appreciate the mainland's "favourable policies".

According to the China Central Television, the pilot programme will allow investors from the mainland and Hong Kong to freely trade shares on Shanghai and Hong Kong stock markets.

The reports adds that the scheme will bring China closer to opening up its capital market.

An article in the overseas edition of the People's Daily points out that the arrangement is a "milestone" and a "major breakthrough".

It explains that the link up with the highly internationalised Hong Kong equity market is a strategy "to push for reforms" in the mainland market.

Agreeing that the trading scheme is a "landmark move", the Global Times highlights that the scheme "will really benefit Hong Kong".

The paper observes that the mainland investors were less interested in the Hong Kong market on the first day of trading, while Hong Kong investors snapped up shares on the Shanghai stock exchange.

"The unequal first day's trading has been attributed to the shadow cast by the Occupy Central movement… Mainland society feels that some Hong Kong residents don't value the country's policies that aim to benefit Hong Kong," explains the editorial.

Urging Hong Kong to "restore to its previous condition", the paper warns that the territory should have a "strong sense of crisis" because it is facing "competition from inland cities".

'Beijing blue'?

And finally, papers are hoping that the blue skies during the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit will soon make a comeback.

Residents in Beijing termed the short-lived blue skies during the period as "Apec blue" after authorities poured in huge resources to clean up the air in the city.

According to a report in the Environment News portal, the measures adopted to ensure cleaner air during the summit last week were "far more stringent" than the ones implemented during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The article reveals that more than 500,000 workers were tasked with cleaning up the city.

The report adds that the authorities are determined to "learn from this successful experience" to turn the Apec Blue into "Beijing Blue".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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