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Wed, May 22 2002 4:37 AM AEST A.B.C. News.

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    http://www.abc.net.au/news/politics/2002/05/item20020521232016_1.htm
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    Wed, May 22 2002 4:37 AM AEST
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    The Prime Minister on a whirlwind tour of China
    --------------------------------------------------------------------- PM meets with China's Parliamentary chairman
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    Prime Minister John Howard has held talks in Beijing with one of the most powerful figures in the Chinese Government.
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    Mr Howard arrived in China earlier today at the start of a three-day visit and had a meeting with China's Parliamentary chairman Li Peng.
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    Mr Howard is expected to lobby for an Australian consortium to be awarded a $25 billion contract to supply natural gas from the north-west shelf gas fields to China's booming Guangdong province.
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    If Australia wins even a share of the contract, it would be the biggest and most important commercial agreement between the two countries since relations were normalised 30 years ago.

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    Mr Howard says the bidding for the contract will be tough.
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    "One thing though that we have that none of the others have got is stability, predictability, 12 years of flawless delivery of contracts on time, on budget, in full," he said.
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    Military familiarisation
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    Meanwhile, Australian military trainers have been taking part in a familiarisation visit at an army base in Beijing.
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    Under the headline, Sino-Australian military links, forged with clinking of wine glasses, the Communist Party's newspaper, The Peoples' Daily reports the army's training division now has a delegation in Beijing.
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    An embassy official has confirmed the visit, but has given no further information.
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    The group's commander is quoted by the paper as saying, the two armies share a lot in common, despite China and Australia having different political and cultural backgrounds.
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    The group that includes the cream of Australia's army trainers toured the PLA's simulation training centre, watched firing practice on fixed and mobile targets and posed for pictures on Chinese tanks.
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