Chin, New Zealand vow to expand trade, exchanges

WELLINGTON: Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Friday that the upgrading of China’s economic structure will bring new opportunities for global development.

Li made the remarks when meeting with representatives from industrial and commercial circles in Auckland, New Zealand. The Chinese premier is paying an official visit to the country.

China is pursuing modernization through high-quality development and various upgrades will bring new opportunities for global development, he noted.

He said consumption upgrading will unleash new market demands, and there will be an increasing need for high-quality goods such as dairy and health products as well as beef and lamb from New Zealand.

Industrial upgrading will open up new areas of cooperation, and more business opportunities will emerge in new energy, information technology, biomedicine and other emerging industries, he noted.

Trade upgrading will create new space for growth, and the potential of cooperation in service trade and cross-border e-commerce will be released at a faster pace, he added.

The Chinese premier hopes New Zealand entrepreneurs will make the most of the momentum, seize the opportunities and make greater results.

China will always be open to enterprises from New Zealand and other countries, Li said.

He promised that Beijing would further expand market access, create a market-oriented and internationalized business environment that is first-class and based on the rule of law, and provide more support and facilitation for foreign-funded enterprises to invest and operate in China.

Li also expressed his hope that more New Zealand entrepreneurs will become “Rewi Alley” in economic and trade exchanges between China and New Zealand in the new era, and play a greater role in enhancing mutual understanding between the two sides to better contribute to the sound development of bilateral ties and bring more benefits for the peoples of the two countries.

Rewi Alley was a dedicated New Zealander who spent six decades living and working in China until his passing in Beijing in 1987.

China-New Zealand cooperation has set a model of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation between countries with different social systems, historical cultures, and stages of development, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said during his visit to New Zealand on Thursday, adding that the respective development of China and New Zealand is an opportunity for each other rather than a challenge.

Observers said China-New Zealand ties are a “model” of relations between China and Western countries. They said Li’s visit highlights the fact that China is willing to retain friendly ties with Western countries if they seek pragmatic cooperation and hold on to strategic autonomy.

Li arrived in New Zealand on Thursday for an official visit, the first leg of his three-nation tour from June 13 to 20. Li said his visit to New Zealand is intended to continue traditional friendship, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, and drive common development.

Noting that the two countries have achieved fruitful results in cooperation in trade, investment, tourism, science and technology, and cultural exchanges, Li said that their cooperation has set a model of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation between countries with different social systems, historical cultures, and stages of development.

Li’s visit to New Zealand marked the first time a Chinese premier has visited the country since 2017. In recent years, the ties between Beijing and Wellington have long been dubbed by observers as “model and forefront” of relations between China and Western countries.

Chinese Premier’s visit came shortly after New Zealand’s new government was sworn in late last year, and the bilateral ties need to be further consolidated and strengthened, Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center of East China Normal University said on Thursday.

The visit will not only help sustain long-term friendly relations, it will also open door to new opportunities, said Chen, explaining that as the upgraded free trade agreement between the two countries took effect, the cooperation potential is huge.

Li expressed his belief that with the joint efforts, China-New Zealand relations will surely usher in an even brighter future, bringing greater benefits to the people of both countries and contributing more to world peace, stability, development, and prosperity.

Li on Thursday called on New Zealand and China to eliminate non-economic disruptions in their economic and trade relations, so as to provide businesses with stable expectations and a favorable business environment. Li made the remarks during his meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

Li said that the respective development of China and New Zealand is an opportunity for each other rather than a challenge, calling on the two countries to continue as partners of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit that learn from each other and foster unity and coordination.

China stands ready to work with New Zealand in continuously expanding trade, exploring cooperation potential in sectors including digital economy, green economy, new energy vehicles and creative industry, and jointly promoting regional economic cooperation, said the Chinese premier.

Noting that China is willing to deepen cultural and people-to-people exchanges with New Zealand, Li said China will include New Zealand in the list of unilateral visa-free countries and expressed the hope for New Zealand to facilitate easier travel for Chinese citizens visiting the country.

Overall, New Zealand’s China policy remains rational and pragmatic, as it did not take the lead among Western countries to provoke China; however, divergences between China and New Zealand do exist, and that is also part of the bilateral relation, Ning Tuanhui, an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

What matters most is managing those differences and not allowing those differences define our ties with New Zealand, Chen added. He believes cooperation prevails over divergences in the bilateral relation.

One proof is the strong economic ties that connects the two nations. In April, New Zealand Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay said “China is our largest export market accounting for more than 26 percent of our goods exports.”

New opportunities in the Chinese market will play a key role in achieving the target of doubling New Zealand exports by value within 10 years, said the minister after his visit to China.

Strong economic connections will cement and strengthen political relations between two countries, and vice versa, said Chen, noting that the current dispute still fail to erode into the solid cooperation foundation between China and New Zealand.

At the same time, Washington is ratcheting up efforts in pulling New Zealand into its small clique against China, and the Western media has begun to hype that New Zealand is “pivoting to the US.”

The Straits Times reported New Zealand seemed to have toughened its stance in 2023, calling out Beijing for hacking the country’s Parliament and noting the growing threat China poses to security in the Pacific. New Zealand has agreed to officially explore the potential benefits of joining the AUKUS pact.

Despite pressure from US and certain Western countries, Wellington has kept sufficient strategic autonomy, which is also beneficial for its own development, Chen said. Hopefully New Zealand will be able to retain such autonomy and political maturity, and continue to contribute elevating bilateral ties.

Li’s visit to New Zealand highlights the fact that China is willing to remain friendly and pragmatic relation with Western countries, as long as those countries eye cooperation rather than differences, said experts.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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