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Developed Nations Have 'Responsibility' to Cut Emissions

Developed nations have the historical and moral responsibility to cut greenhouse gas emissions to improve the environment, Australia's first Minister for Climate Change and Water, Penny Wong, said on Thursday.

"We are a developed nation. We have to take the lead in it (emissions cut)," Wong told reporters in Beijing, adding that Australia "absolutely respects" China's rights to develop.

Wong is in China as part of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's four-day visit, which ends Saturday.

Different nations with different levels of development should have a different share of environmental responsibilities, Wong said, but the real solution to the climate change problem lies in cooperation between developed and developing nations.

Technological advancement to improve the environment is also an area where Australia is happy to facilitate in "whatever way it can", she said.

"What we want to do is to provide any technological cooperation and collaboration as China finds its own path to sustainable development," she said.

China became Australia's biggest trading partner last year and Wong says she believes the country is central to Australia's future.

She also suggested that both sides build on this basis of economic relations and expand it to engage in climate change.

"I hope we can jointly make important contributions to international negotiation as well as collaborate in our bilateral relations on these issues," she said.

This is also a key aim of Rudd's visit to China, Wong, who is also the first Asian-born member of the Australia's Cabinet, said.

The 39-year-old minister, who was born in Malaysia to a Malaysian Chinese father and Australian mother, said her unique cultural background nurtured her desire to make things fairer.

"If you have the experience of being different, or marginalized, I think there is a desire to build a community to make other people not be marginalized," she said.

"We are a nation where people can take senior positions regardless of their cultural heritage," Wong said.

"I think what is important is to do something about the country, about the nation. And after me, there will be the second, the third, and the fourth," she said of her ministerial post.

(China Daily April 11, 2008)

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