JULIA Gillard will lead Australia's most senior political delegation ever on her visit to China for talks on trade, security and clean energy.
On her second visit to Australia's biggest trading partner, Prime Minister Gillard will meet new president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang and attend the Boao Forum, a major business and economic conference.
Ministers Bob Carr, Craig Emerson and Bill Shorten, and senior government officials, will join the prime minister on the April 5-10 visit which will take in Hainan Island, Shanghai and Beijing.
The key meeting of the trip will be with Mr Xi, who became leader on March 14 and wants to make the focus of his term the further opening up of China to the world.
At the Boao Forum, Ms Gillard will rub shoulders with global business chiefs like Bill Gates, as well as International Monetary Fund boss Christine Legarde and co-founder of the forum, former Australian Labor prime minister Bob Hawke.
She will also receive a ceremonial greeting at the Great Hall in Beijing, before meeting Mr Li.
The prime minister's focus will be on establishing relationships with the new leaders, promoting trade and economic ties, further defence links and working with China on regional issues, such as tensions in the South China Sea.
Mr Shorten will lead a delegation of finance and superannuation industry executives involved in meetings in Shanghai and Beijing.
Australian exports to China are now worth around $77 billion a year, with two-way trade totalling $120 billion.
Educating Chinese students has become a $4 billion a year concern for Australia, with around 150,000 of them enrolled in courses in 2012, and it is one of the largest sources of tourists.
Ms Gillard's partner Tim Mathieson, who will accompany her on the trip, will likely get a chance to mix with other leaders' spouses including Mr Xi's wife, 50-year-old Peng Liyuan, a popular singer who has been making headlines as first lady.