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AUS: China/Australia Joint Statement

The Government of Australia and the Government of the People's Republic of China

Joint statement on the on-line economy and electronic commerce

Canberra, 8 September 1999

The Government of Australia and the Government of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as both parties) accept that the growth of the on-line economy is a significant development in global economic relations and benefits both countries, especially in the conduct of international business. Electronic commerce, in particular, allows access to new markets, improves the quality of services, encourages innovation, fosters more efficient supply and distribution, and further promotes the development of commerce between the two countries. These benefits should accelerate economic growth around the world.


This joint statement is intended to promote the development and growth of the on-line economy and electronic commerce in both countries by:

a.promoting a dialogue between Australia and the People's Republic of China on electronic commerce issues;

b.building confidence with governments, businesses and consumers in electronic commerce;

c.facilitating the establishment of a clear legal framework for the on-line economy and electronic commerce;

d.fostering technology transfer and cooperation between the two countries in areas of the on-line economy and electronic commerce;

e.supporting and endorsing the following principles and policies, which should guide the development and growth of the on-line economy and electronic commerce.

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Both parties endorse the following principles:

a.The public and business sectors should cooperate in the development of electronic commerce and in establishing business practices, both domestically and internationally.

b.Based on clear legal frameworks for electronic commerce, governments should also encourage effective self-regulation by business through codes of conduct, model contracts, guidelines, and enforcement mechanisms developed by the business sector.

c.In developing and planning worldwide electronic commerce, consideration should be given, and joint efforts made, to narrow the gap between the developed and developing countries.

d.Cooperation and harmonisation among all countries, from all regions of the world and all levels of development, will assist in the construction of a comprehensive global environment for electronic commerce.


Both parties will encourage their responsible agencies to adopt the following approaches to key areas of the on-line economy and electronic commerce:

1. Taxes and Tariffs

Rules affecting the taxation of the Internet and electronic commerce should be neutral, fair, clear, efficient, and easy to control, manage and be understood by the public.

Both parties will cooperate closely to ensure effective and fair administration of their tax systems in relation to electronic commerce, including the prevention of tax evasion and avoidance. In support of this, national tax authorities in Australia and the People's Republic of China should continue to consult and cooperate on taxation issues associated with electronic commerce in international fora in which they are members and at a bilateral level in accordance with the exchange of information provisions of the 1990 Australia-China Double Tax Agreement.

2. International Fora

Both parties will work in the international fora in which they are members to promote policies and initiatives which foster the development of electronic commerce and the growth of the global on-line economy.

3. Business and Consumer Confidence

Both parties recognise that it is essential that business and consumers have confidence in electronic transactions. Developments in this area should recognise the importance of business sector initiatives and should promote both a competitive market for and user confidence in electronic payment systems. There should be effective protection for consumers who use electronic commerce.

4. Content

As the Internet is a medium for promoting, in a positive way, diffusion of knowledge, cultural diversity and social interaction, as well as a means of facilitating commerce,

a.Governments should not prevent their citizens from transmitting or accessing information simply because it is published on-line in another country. Each government is responsible for the rules concerning transmission of, and access to, on-line information by its own citizens.

b.Where users do not wish to receive certain types of content (such as that which is unsuitable for children), filtering/blocking systems or other tools should be made available by service providers. Industry self-regulation will assist in the promotion of content labelling.

c.On-line service providers should work with domestic law enforcement authorities as well as with their international counterparts to stem the transmission of illegal content. Meanwhile, on-line service providers will need to deal appropriately with complaints about prohibited content.

d.Both parties will encourage international cooperation between law enforcement authorities to prevent, investigate and prosecute illegal activities on the Internet and the use of electronic commerce for criminal purposes.

5. Government Services and Information

Both parties believe good administration will be promoted by governments pursuing excellence in the on-line delivery of government services and information. This should be done in a way that reflects the needs of citizens and minimises bureaucratic processes. Governments can act as role models and market catalysts in developing the on-line economy.

6. Internet Governance

Both parties acknowledge that policy development in all areas of Internet governance should comprehensively engage industry interests. The Internet succeeds in great measure because it is a decentralised system that encourages innovation and diversity in information services. Where possible, market mechanisms that support competition and consumer choice should drive the management of the Internet. This will lower costs, promote innovation, encourage diversity and enhance user choice and satisfaction.

7. Domain Name System (DNS)

Both parties welcome the establishment in accordance with government wishes of the independent, non-governmental Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to manage the global domain system. At the same time, in the light of the rapid world-wide expansion of Internet, both parties encourage consultation with the relevant international organisations to ensure that long-term arrangements for global DNS and address management represent the diverse interests of all nations and Internet stakeholders. Both parties acknowledge the need for further work in international fora to address the issue of domain names and trade marks (including well-known marks).

8. Intellectual Property Rights

Both parties consider that growth of the on-line economy and electronic commerce depends on the adequate protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). Both parties will support moves in international fora that may assist in further strengthening of on-line intellectual property protection.

9. Infrastructure

Both parties consider that the supporting telecommunications infrastructure for on-line transactions must be technically and commercially suitable, particularly in terms of adequate bandwidth and competitive pricing. Governments should positively endorse all means for provision of infrastructure and telecommunications services within a regulatory framework that encourages competition.


Recognising that bilateral cooperation can complement the development of essential multilateral frameworks, both parties will:

a.Coordinate their policies on electronic commerce and the information industries through such mechanisms as the Working Group for Information Industry and Telecommunications under the Australia-China Joint Ministerial Economic Commission.

b.Strengthen cooperation and exchanges on regulatory and technical development issues through specific arrangements between relevant ministries of both parties; in particular the Ministry of Information Industries of the Peoples Republic of China and the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts of Australia.

c.Work with business and consumer groups in both countries to promote dialogue, cooperation and further action on the issues contained in this statement.

d.Continue to cooperate closely at relevant international fora such as APEC and

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