Chinese premier visits New Zealand to expand trade, cooperation

Chinese Premier Li Qiang meets with New Zealand’s Governor-General Cindy Kiro in Wellington, New Zealand, June 13, 2024. (Xinhua/Ding Haitao)

New Zealand’s positive stance is evident in being among the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with China and the first developed nation to sign and implement a bilateral free trade agreement with China.


Wellington, New Zealand (Xinhua) – The north lawn of the governor-general’s residence reverberated with the rhythmic chanting and powerful stamping of the Maori haka on Thursday (June 13).

Dressed in traditional attire, Maori dancers displayed prowess and strength, their synchronized movements and facial gestures creating a vibrant spectacle to welcome Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who is on an official visit to New Zealand, the first leg of his three-nation tour from June 13 to 20.

At the residence, Li met with New Zealand’s Governor-General Cindy Kiro, emphasizing shared development concepts, cultural values, and international perspectives pivotal to bilateral relations.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to New Zealand and the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and New Zealand.

Nurtured by pioneers like Rewi Alley, a dedicated New Zealander who spent six decades living and working in China until his passing in Beijing in 1987, the relationship has steadily strengthened over the past decade despite challenges in the international political landscape.

During talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, Li noted that over the past 10 years, despite changes in the international landscape, China and New Zealand have consistently adhered to mutual respect, inclusiveness, cooperation, and joint development, promoting bilateral relations to achieve substantial progress and creating multiple “firsts” in bilateral cooperation.

New Zealand’s positive stance is evident in being among the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with China and the first developed nation to sign and implement a bilateral free trade agreement with China. It also took the lead among Western developed countries in recognizing China’s full market economy status.

“It’s a reflection of the New Zealand culture, as well as its political position of being strongly independent without having to follow necessarily the strong influence from other countries. To recognize China in these ‘first ways’ is a showing of strength and independent thinking,” said John Cochrane, chairman of the New Zealand China Trade Association.

Building on the spirit of ‘striving to be the first’, China has solidified its position as New Zealand’s largest trading partner and key export destination. Notably, New Zealand has long maintained a surplus in goods and services with China, encountering only three quarterly deficits in the five years ending June 2023.

To sustain this positive momentum, Li urged both countries to ensure stable expectations and a conducive business environment. He also expressed China’s openness to increased investment from New Zealand. During discussions with Luxon, agreements were made to initiate negotiations on service trade negative list.

Meanwhile, cultural and people-to-people exchanges are integral to enhancing mutual understanding and fostering friendships between countries. During the talks, Li reaffirmed China’s commitment to strengthening these connections with New Zealand and said China will include New Zealand in the list of unilateral visa-free countries and expressed hope for it to facilitate easier travel for Chinese citizens visiting the country.

Furthermore, China and New Zealand are staunch supporters of multilateralism, free trade, and an open global economy. Building on this shared commitment, Li called on the two nations to enhance communication and coordination in multilateral fields and to encourage all parties to jointly address challenges and opportunities, foster win-win cooperation.

“New Zealand must be an international trading nation. The more that there are open borders, and the more that there are exchanges of goods and services and technologies that can be openly traded, the better off we will all be. Open border benefits in both directions,” said Cochrane.

After the meeting, Li and Luxon witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents on service trade, business environment, export of agricultural and food products to China, science and technology, patent examination, and migratory bird protection, among others.

Besides New Zealand, Li will also pay official visits to Australia and Malaysia.

Reporting by Indonesia Window

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