Speech by Dr. Wang Huiyao at New Zealand China Business Summit

CCG | May 20 , 2024


Strengthening the China-New Zealand Partnership

–Remarks by Dr Wang Huiyao at the 10th China Business Summit, 2024

20th May, 2024, Auckland

H. E Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, H. E. Ambassador Wang Xiaolong, H. E. Minister of Trade, Mr. Todd McClay, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Kia Ora! (Good Day!)

It is an honor to visit New Zealand, a beautiful country that is most friendly among the English speaking countries to China. It is also a great honor speak with you today about the enduring and evolving partnership between China and New Zealand. Over the years, our nations have built a robust relationship characterized by mutual respect, cooperation, and shared prosperity. Today, I would like to highlight the resilience of our partnership, especially during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, and explore the future avenues for collaboration that will fortify our bond further.

1. The Key Pillars of China-New Zealand Trade Relations

Our trade relationship has demonstrated strong resilience during the Pandemic. It stands on many fundamental pillars: education, tourism, renewable energy, agricultural products, etc.

Education: In 2023, over 20,000 Chinese students were enrolled in New Zealand’s educational institutions, making up 36% of the overall international student enrollment. This not only enriches our educational environments but also strengthens our cultural and economic ties.

Tourism: The tourism industry has seen significant growth. In 2023, with the full recover of the flights in-between, the number of Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand increased by 12.7% to 200,000, making China the third largest source of international tourists after Australia and the U.S. These visitors contribute to New Zealand’s vibrant tourism sector and help foster mutual understanding.

Agricultural Products: New Zealand’s high-quality dairy and meat products are highly sought after in China, strengthening our agricultural trade ties.

Climate and new energy product cooperation: Their shares in the bilateral trade is increasing.

Cultural exchange is another crucial component of our relationship. The movie industry, in particular, has become an exciting area of collaboration, allowing us to share our stories and traditions with each other and the world.

2. Trade Growth and Economic Cooperation

Since the signing of our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2008, China-New Zealand trade of goods has grown at an average annual rate of 11%. New Zealand’s exports to China have achieved an impressive average annual growth rate of 16% over the past 15 years. In 2023, New Zealand’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to China increased by 104.7% year-on-year, with China’s FDI to New Zealand growing by 16.7%. These figures highlight the dynamic and mutually beneficial nature of our economic relationship.

3. Global Governance and multilateral cooperation

China and New Zealand share a commitment to addressing global challenges. Our cooperation extends to crucial areas such as trade liberalization and combating climate change. By working together, we can make significant contributions to global governance and promote a more stable and sustainable world.

New Zealand, often perceived as a remote country with a relatively small population, but it is viewed by most Chinese as a rising middle power. It has strong influence and soft power in global governance, particularly regarding international trade – such as RCEP, CPTPP and DEPA – and plays an active role in bridging relations between major powers.

4. Celebrating a Decade of Strategic Partnership

On March 21, 2024, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with New Zealand Foreign Minister Peters to mark a significant milestone. Minister Wang Yi emphasized China’s willingness to work with New Zealand to uphold the spirit of “striving to be the first” and to create more “firsts” in our bilateral relations. This commitment aims to keep our partnership at the forefront of China’s relationships with developed countries, heralding a new decade of even greater development.

5. Resilience of Our Partnership

Our long-term cooperation is built on a foundation of in-depth mutual understanding and stable political ties. We greatly appreciate New Zealand’s balanced approach in dealing with China within the global context. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Hipkins affirmed that New Zealand continues to be a proudly nuclear-free state, and this position is not going to change. This resilience was particularly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic, where our partnership demonstrated remarkable strength and adaptability.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi rightly noted that China and New Zealand “have neither historical problems nor practical disputes.” This unique aspect of our relationship ensures that we will remain in a good partnership regardless of changes in the geopolitical landscape.

Looking for the future of our relationship, I believe that we can continue our cooperation in following regards:

1. Connection and International Cooperation on Trade

Our participation in international trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) exemplifies our commitment to enhancing free trade and cooperation in the digital economy. These agreements provide a path to better free trade agreements and more robust economic collaboration. As a mediator and connector between China and the West, New Zealand can facilitate trade and investment through RCEP, CPTPP, and other FTAs.

2. Exploring New Potentials

Looking ahead, there are several promising areas for further cooperation:

Scientific Research: Joint research initiatives in maritime studies and climate change can yield valuable insights and solutions.

Climate Change: Collaborative efforts in addressing climate change will not only benefit our countries but also contribute to global sustainability.

Strengthening Connectivity Through Cultural Communication: To further boost mutual understanding, we must strengthen the connectivity between China and New Zealand through more cultural communication. Enhanced cultural exchanges will enable us to deepen our knowledge of each other’s societies, values, and traditions, fostering a more profound and empathetic connection between our peoples.

Global governance and multilateral and regional dialogue on international issues: we also need to engage in dialogue on critical international issues such as artificial intelligence and the development of the Global South to ensure a cooperative and forward-thinking global community.

In conclusion, the partnership between China and New Zealand is not just a testament to our shared history but a beacon for future cooperation. By leveraging our strengths in trade, education, cultural exchange, and international cooperation, we can navigate the challenges of today and embrace the opportunities of tomorrow. Together, let us continue to build a resilient, dynamic, and prosperous partnership that benefits both our nations and the world at large.

Thank you.