Speech – New Zealand Government
I am here in China, with this delegation, to support the growing relationship between our two countries, which has gone from strength to strength over recent years.Rt Hon John Key
11 April 2013 Speech
Speech to Peking University
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
This is my third visit to China in four years and my second address here at Peking University.
In a sign of the importance we place on this relationship, I am travelling with what is possibly the largest delegation ever taken overseas by a New Zealand Prime Minister.
With me here in China are Hon Steven Joyce – Minister of Economic Development, Hon Tim Groser – Minister of Trade, Hon Pita Sharples – Minister of Māori Affairs, and a number of top-ranking government officials.
I am also accompanied by leaders in business, education, scientific and cultural fields, who are keen to make new connections and strengthen existing relationships in China.
That includes the Board and members of the recently-established New Zealand China Council.
I am here in China, with this delegation, to support the growing relationship between our two countries, which has gone from strength to strength over recent years.
This is a very important relationship for New Zealand.
And the high-level turnout for my visit, including President Xi and Premier Li, shows the importance that China also attaches to this relationship.
In particular, I am here in China to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
Those relations began in December 1972 and it is good to remind ourselves how far we have come.
To a New Zealander in the early 1970s, China would have seemed a mysterious country – very large, very populous, and with a rich history, but largely unknown.
And I doubt that many Chinese knew much, if anything, of New Zealand.
Our first diplomats had to walk across the border from Hong Kong because, in those days, China had no international flights.
Now, there are daily flights between New Zealand and China, and those flights are well-used.
China has become our fastest-growing, and second-largest, source of visitors, with almost 200,000 visits last year.
Over the same period, New Zealanders made 66,000 visits to China, which is double the number from 10 years ago.
I would like to see even more travel between our countries.
For New Zealand’s part, we have been working closely with the tourism industry to provide the best possible experience for our Chinese visitors.
On this visit I have announced new, extended visitor visas for Chinese tourists, and Premier Li and I agreed yesterday to make business travel between our countries easier through three-year, multiple-entry business visas.
Education is another important way to grow awareness and understanding between our two countries.
Forty years ago, New Zealand provided three scholarships for Chinese students and China accepted three New Zealand students in return.
Today, China is the largest source of international students in New Zealand, numbering over 24,000.
And in New Zealand schools, a growing number of young people are learning Chinese.
I would encourage New Zealand students who want to develop their language skills to come to China. And we are very keen to see more young Chinese come to New Zealand.
We offer high-quality, cost-competitive schools and institutions in an English-language environment.
We have a code of practice to ensure a high standard of care for overseas students.
And our educational institutions have growing links with their Chinese counterparts, including with Peking University.
I am also here in China to mark the fifth anniversary of our hugely successful free trade agreement.
New Zealand remains the only developed country to have signed such a comprehensive agreement with China.
On the back of that agreement, New Zealand’s goods exports to China have more than trebled in five years, and China is now our second-largest export market.
China has also become our biggest source of imports.
So our trade relationship is in very good shape, and our countries are on track to achieve the goal – which I reconfirmed with President Xi at Boao – of doubling two-way trade by 2015.
Outside our own bilateral agreement, China and New Zealand are proponents of trade liberalisation across the region and, indeed, globally.
We are both involved, for example, in negotiations towards a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would be a free trade agreement between 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
New Zealand was one of the earliest countries to support China’s trade and economic integration with the rest of the world.
New Zealand’s then-Trade Minister, Lockwood Smith, was the first trade minister to conclude negotiations agreeing to China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.
Mike Moore, another former New Zealand Trade Minister, was Director-General of the WTO in 2001 when China joined, and also when the Doha Round was launched.
And we hope that another New Zealander, Trade Minister, and long-time friend of China, Tim Groser, will have the opportunity to bring this Round to a conclusion.
The investment relationship between China and New Zealand has also been growing.
Chinese firms like Haier and Bright Dairy have been making investments in New Zealand, and a growing number of New Zealand companies have been investing in China.
That is good for both countries.
My Government welcomes overseas investment in New Zealand, because it adds to what New Zealanders can invest on their own.
It creates jobs and increases incomes.
When it comes to purchasing sensitive land in New Zealand, we have rules to ensure that New Zealand benefits, for example, from new job opportunities, new technology, or better access to export markets.
My Government supports those rules, and we apply them fairly and consistently across all potential investors, in a transparent way.
Our transparency and stable business climate are part of the reason we are considered a good country to do business with.
Forbes ranks us number one on their list of “best countries for business”, while the World Bank puts us third, after Singapore and Hong Kong.
We have excellent legal and economic institutions, and a banking system that came through the Global Financial Crisis in good shape.
We are world-class, highly-efficient food producers.
And we have very high food safety standards, backed up with world-leading technology, so consumers can have the utmost confidence in our products.
The future for New Zealand’s food production is in partnering with other people and other countries in our region.
We can offer the knowledge gained over years of experience in agriculture, horticulture, food science and technology.
We may be small, but where we have areas of expertise, we have very deep expertise.
We are teaming up to produce food in China and in other countries.
We are working with other countries to improve the productivity of their domestic sectors.
We are helping build brands that stand for high quality and proven safety.
As a partner for prosperity, New Zealand has a lot to offer the region.
Alongside our expertise in food production, we also have technical, scientific and engineering expertise that can help other countries develop and add value to their natural resources.
We have growing high-tech industries, we are creative people, and we have a beautiful natural environment.
You can see these things come together in films like The Hobbit, which is showing now in Chinese cinemas.
This was filmed in New Zealand, with a New Zealand director, and world-leading production and effects from New Zealand artists and technicians.
New Zealand has a lot to offer China and, indeed, the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
Our changing society means we have a shared stake in this region and its future.
A big part of that change, over the last few decades, has been a reawakening and revitalisation of Māori culture and identity.
And another big part has been a refocusing of New Zealand minds away from Europe and towards Asia and the Pacific.
Compared with 40 years ago, a much greater proportion of the population identify as having Māori, Pacific or Asian ethnicity.
A research paper last month identified 160 different languages spoken in New Zealand and describes our biggest city, Auckland, as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
Asian New Zealanders are our fastest growing ethnic group.
In a little more than 20 years, our Asian population is expected to make up 15 per cent of New Zealand’s population, and Chinese New Zealanders will be the biggest single group within that.
China is now our second largest source of migrants, behind the United Kingdom.
Chinese New Zealanders have long made significant contributions to New Zealand.
One early settler, for example – a man named Chew Chong – became a major figure in the dairy industry in Taranaki.
At the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in 1889, he won first prize for the best half-ton of butter and flew the Chinese flag over his exhibit.
Today, Chinese New Zealanders are making a significant contribution across a whole range of economic, social, cultural and political fields.
In recent years, New Zealand has had four Chinese Members of Parliament, two of whom are with me on this visit.
Over the years, a number of New Zealanders have also left their mark on China.
The most famous was, of course, Rewi Alley, who left Canterbury and went to China in 1927.
He dedicated the rest of his life to the Chinese people until his death in Beijing in 1987.
Through his actions he also helped New Zealanders understand more about China.
That understanding continues to grow.
Lantern Festival, for example, has become a very popular celebration which draws large crowds of New Zealanders.
A recent survey showed that more than three-quarters of New Zealanders see the Asian region as important to New Zealand’s future.
Asia is rated as more important than Europe, North America and every other region in the world apart from Australia, our nearest neighbour.
I have already mentioned education and tourism, which are excellent examples of people-to-people linkages.
There is also a lively cultural exchange between our two countries, including between our museums, artists, writers and performing artists.
The world-class Royal New Zealand Ballet is touring five cities in China this month.
Last November our national football team, the All Whites, played China in Shanghai as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations. Fittingly, the score was a one-all draw.
Our two governments cooperate across a wide range of areas.
On this visit, for example, I am taking part in events recognising our links in education, science, fisheries, investment, tourism, immigration, and narcotics control, amongst others.
With our different cultures, different histories and different political traditions, it is only natural that we have a different perspective on some issues.
But the important thing is that we are able to express our views with openness, honesty and respect.
And there is much that we can share and learn from one another.
Our two education ministries are working together to see how we can assist China in its education reform and development plans.
China has signalled an interest in working with New Zealand on the development and delivery of social policy programmes.
We have active defence exchanges, we work together on law enforcement, and we have assisted each other after destructive earthquakes.
Our cooperation extends beyond our two countries.
Last year, New Zealand and China announced a unique partnership with the Cook Islands to deliver an improved water mains system.
We share membership of several key regional groupings such as APEC and the East Asia Summit.
Our UN peacekeepers work alongside each other in various parts of the world.
We take our international contributions seriously, and New Zealand has a long history of global commitment.
That is why we are seeking a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2015-16.
The New Zealand Government wants to build on these very firm foundations.
So last year I launched the New Zealand China Strategy.
The Strategy is about getting greater coordination and effectiveness across all the government agencies that work in, and with, China.
And it’s about developing more targeted and cohesive services to help successful businesses develop and grow in China.
The China Strategy has a strong trade and economic focus.
It also recognises the importance of retaining and building a strong, resilient political relationship.
And I’m pleased to say it has been positively received in New Zealand and in China.
The Strategy is already changing the way we operate, and I want to mention two things in particular.
The first is the formation of the New Zealand China Council.
The Council’s aim is to bring together a wide range of New Zealanders who are engaged with China across different fields.
Tomorrow the Council and its Chinese partner – the highly-regarded China Centre for International Economic Exchanges – are co-hosting the first-ever New Zealand China Partnership Forum.
This is a big step forward. The Forum is an opportunity to involve businesses and non-government organisations in the dialogue between our two countries. They have a huge part to play.
The other result of the China Strategy that I want to highlight is a reassessment of New Zealand’s diplomatic footprint in China.
We want to make sure that New Zealand businesses, organisations and individuals are well supported in their engagement with China.
So after meeting President Xi in Boao, I was pleased to announce that we are expanding our diplomatic presence in China, with more staff, and with a new Consulate-General in western China.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Together, New Zealand and China have made enormous strides in our relationship over the past 40 years.
We should be proud of what we have achieved.
This visit has given us another opportunity to reflect on those 40 years.
It has also given us the opportunity to look forward, and consider the possibilities that lie ahead for our two countries.
China will continue its remarkable growth – both as an economy and as a regional and global power.
New Zealand is a much smaller country than China, both in size and population.
But we are a committed partner.
There is much we can do in the future together by teaming up – whether in China, in New Zealand or in other countries – to harness our strengths.
In the years ahead, New Zealand’s relationship with China will continue to grow stronger as we build mutual prosperity and well-being together.
Xie xie. Thank you.