A landmark visit to Beijing by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has resulted in a formal strengthening of Australia's business and economic ties with China.
Radio New Zealand's Sydney correspondent reports that by common consent, Ms Gillard's visit to Beijing last week with business and banking leaders was a remarkable success.
The trip resulted in a formal commitment by both sides to annual leadership talks, giving Canberra greater access to China than virtually any other nation.
Annual talks are also seen as increasing the likelihood of a bilateral free trade deal and the liberalisation of Chinese investment in Australia.
The Gillard visit also resulted in a landmark agreement to allow the direct trading of Australian dollars for Chinese currency.
Radio New Zealand's correspondent says this removes the need for an intermediate transfer to US dollars and gives Westpac and the ANZ direct access to the Chinese market.