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A record 188 million people travelled by train and another 247 million flew over the forty days before and after the New Year. This is the biggest annual movement of people in the world. And bad weather failed to disrupt the transport network like it did last year. Premier Wen Jiabao has warned of challenges in the year ahead, the official People’s Daily newspaper reported Sunday, as the global economic crisis continued to impact the country. “Taking a broad view of the situation abroad and domestically, challenges and opportunities exist,” the newspaper quoted Wen as saying, and he reiterated the importance of economic policies such as increasing domestic consumption. In Beijing’s Ditan Park, which like many across the nation opened up on Sunday for a fair where people came to buy festive treats, a multitude of red lanterns hung over alleys as thousands of visitors enjoyed the first day of the fair. By Sunday evening, families sat down to eat meals of dumplings, fish and meat; let off fireworks and gave out red envelopes containing money. In Beijing, 93 roads closed for half an hour on Sunday evening to allow residents to let off firecrackers. What does this year of the Ox hold for China and Australia? For us to understand China and Chinese economic policy we need to understand the dramatic impact of Chairman Deng Xiao Ping and that his leadership and philosophy still motivate the Chinese leadership. As Chairman Deng said; “As we cross the river slowly, we feel for the stones,” which, in current economic circumstances, means let’s see what is happening in the west and wait to see how China can best benefit from the world economic crisis. The first half of 2009 will be a time of watching and planning and the second half will be a call to action to extend the long march of double digit growth beyond 30 years. The year of the Ox has often been a year of steady growth and commitment and historic changes. 1985 saw the meeting of US President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The Year of the Ox is often a year of historic developments. There has been a basic clash of ideas and wills and it is one of the fundamental forces reshaping our globe, swept by the tides of hope and fear of crisis in the headlines of today that have become, and will become, the footnotes of history tomorrow. Both the success and the setbacks of the past year remain the unfinished business of the international community. Apparent blessings contain the seeds of danger. Every area of trouble gives out a ray of hope and the one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable. The lesson of the last twelve months and of the last decade is that we must be able to adapt to change and we must be flexible in our outlook to business; and that we must be ready and prepared to seize the opportunities as they are presented to us. In Australia we must move decisively, expand our infrastructure and overhaul outdated, untimely overly bureaucratic approval processes. If we move decisively our factories and farms can be ready later in the year to increase their sales to the richest and fastest growing markets in Asia. Our exports will increase, our balance of payments position will improve and we will have forged across the Pacific and Indian oceans stronger trading partnerships with the vast resources of China and the rest of the world. We meet here today in an atmosphere of rising hope and in a moment of comparative calm. I have confidence in the future and have confidence in Australia and China playing an increasing role in the world economy, based on the real needs of the world and all China and Australia has to offer. The problems of the financial crisis have been made by men and men have the ability to solve all those problems. 196 The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia


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