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Remarks by H.E. Li Qiang
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
At the Welcoming Gala Dinner in New Zealand
2024-06-14 23:05

Auckland, June 14, 2024

Your Honorable Prime Minister Christopher Luxon,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening! It’s such a pleasure to join so many friends in the beautiful city of Auckland. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to people from across the New Zealand society who have given care and support to the development of China-New Zealand relations over the years. I also wish to send my best regards to the warm and friendly people of New Zealand.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Zealand and the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between our two countries. At such an important moment, l am honored to be invited by Prime Minister Luxon to visit this land of fascinating beauty and abundance. We are delighted to see that in the past decade, China-New Zealand relations have made historic progress, and cooperation in various fields has advanced with unprecedented breadth and depth. New Zealand was the first developed country in the West to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document and upgrade its free trade agreement with China. China, on its part, has remained New Zealand’s largest trading partner and biggest export market. Two-way trade has doubled from around NZ$20 billion to around NZ$40 billion. Our exchanges and cooperation in areas such as culture, tourism and education, and at the sub-national level are flourishing, and the number of sister provinces/states and sister cities has grown to 42 pairs. The fruitful results of our friendly cooperation have not only generated tangible benefits to our peoples, but also greatly contributed to prosperity and stability of the region and beyond.

If we delve deeper into history, more stories of friendship and more fruits of cooperation between China and New Zealand will come into view. In the past 52 years of diplomatic ties, China-New Zealand relations have long been a pacemaker in China’s engagement with the wider developed world, and set many records along the way. The history of friendly exchanges between our two countries, which can be traced back to the 1860s when the first group of Chinese people arrived in Otago, spans nearly 160 years. For over one and a half centuries, our exchanges have continued to deepen, our cooperation has become closer, and our friendship and mutual understanding have kept growing. What I want to stress here is that despite the distance between us and the difference in national conditions, China and New Zealand have forged a natural bond of affinity and empathy, based on our many commonalities and similarities.

First, we both respect Mother Nature. China and New Zealand are both countries with magnificent landscape and diverse ecosystems. Reverence for nature is an integral part of our traditional values. That is why we both attach great importance to environmental protection and appreciate the necessity of green development. New Zealand is renowned for being a “land of the long white cloud” and “pasture under the blue sky.” Capitalizing on its rich natural endowments, New Zealand is a developed country with advanced agricultural and pastoral sector, and an example to the world on ecological sustainability. New Zealand’s experience offers valuable inspirations for China’s modernization drive. The Chinese people believe in harmony between man and nature. Over the past years, guided by the vision of “lucid waters and lush mountains being invaluable assets,” China has made vigorous efforts to promote green and low-carbon transition, and emerged as a leader of new energy vehicles, wind power, photovoltaic and other technologies. The green development of China and New Zealand not only benefits the two countries but also makes positive contribution to building a clean and beautiful world.

Second, we both embrace cultural diversity. China and New Zealand are both countries of multi-ethnicity. Through the exchanges, mutual learning and integration of various ethnic groups, inclusiveness has become a hallmark of both our cultures. In New Zealand, the Maori, Pacific Islands, European and Asian cultures enrich and inspire one another. In China, the distinctive cuisines, clothing styles, dialects and architectures of different regions shape the vibrant landscape of the Chinese culture. Our embrace of cultural diversity has fostered an open mindset in both countries. We both understand that resisting change will make one fall behind the times, while mutually beneficial cooperation is the only way leading to common progress. For the past decades, China and New Zealand have stayed committed to free trade, embraced the trend of economic globalization, and gained real benefits in this process. We have demonstrated with our own experience that openness and cooperation are the critical enablers of national development and prosperity. 

Third, we both pursue innovation and creativity. New Zealand has a longstanding reputation for having a robust innovation culture. Since the end of the 19th century, New Zealand has been working to boost agricultural productivity through pasture grass improvement, selective breeding and other new technologies, which makes it a world leader in agricultural technology. With continuous breakthroughs in motors, electronic control and other technologies, New Zealand has nurtured a group of world-renowned high-end brands like Fisher&Paykel. China also attaches great importance to science, technology and innovation. In recent years, we have fully implemented the innovation-driven development strategy, bringing a constant stream of new technologies, new industries and new business forms. In the Global Innovation Index 2023 published by the World Intellectual Property Organization. China and New Zealand both have a high ranking. Our two countries have a lot in common on innovation. This provides a solid foundation for enhancing our cooperation. 

Fourth, we both stand for world peace. This largely stems from our similar national characters. New Zealanders like to call themselves Kiwis. The term, as I have learned, refers to a bird and a fruit, and both are sweet and lovable. This nickname is now widely known in the world and has become a symbol of the kind, genuine and friendly people of NewZealand. In China, we often say that peace is precious, kindness is essential and sincerity is paramount. This is a principle hardwired into us by the 5,000-year Chinese civilization. Shaped by our shared traits, China and New Zealand adopt a similar philosophy and approach when it comes to international relations. We both underscore that countries should pursue peaceful relations and seek dialogue and cooperation, not confrontation or conflict, and that only in this way can regional and world peace and tranquility be safeguarded through joint efforts.

These precious commonalities are a valuable asset for our two countries. They have played a large part in the steady progress and fruitful cooperation between China and New Zealand in the past 52 years. Both sides need to cherish and protect the asset, and tap more into it as we continue to grow China-New Zealand relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Changes unseen in a century are unfolding faster across the world, and world peace and development is confronted with many difficulties. But just as a New Zealand proverb goes, “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” China is ready to join hands with New Zealand to stay true to our common values, carry forward our tradition of friendship and create an upgraded version of China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership, so as to generate strong momentum for stability and development in our two countries, the region and beyond.

First, we should deepen and expand cooperation across the fields. China and New Zealand enjoy great economic complementarities and broad space for cooperation. We need to cement the foundation of cooperation in traditional areas such as biomedicine, agriculture and food, and keep looking deeper for potential in emerging areas such as new energy and the digital economy to expand win-win cooperation and nurture new sources of growth.

Second, we should make our cooperation better serve the people. This is the ultimate goal of our cooperation. The people’s well-being should be our important consideration in conducting bilateral cooperation, and inform our decisions on policy making, project planning and inputs, so strategic choices are made that truly benefit the people. We will include New Zealand in China’s unilateral visa waiver program. This will further facilitate personnel exchanges between our two countries.

Third, we should contribute to peace and development in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. We need to strengthen communication and coordination on multilateral affairs, uphold the U.N.-centered international system and the international order based on international law, encourage all to practice true multilateralism, and work hand in hand to contribute our wisdom and energy to regional and global peace, stability, development and prosperity. In particular, amid the sluggish global economic recovery, China stands ready to work with New Zealand to be the force we are for global economic recovery and growth.

The Chinese economy has enjoyed an ever stronger momentum of recovery since the beginning of this year. In the first quarter, it got off to a good start with a 5.3 percent growth year on year, and maintained strong consumption, steady increase in investment, elevated levels of imports and exports and rising market confidence. In particular, the high-tech manufacturing industry and emerging industries are showing good momentum and fast strengthening China’s new sources of growth. Forecasts for the Chinese economy are being upgraded by international institutions including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. China will continue to be the largest engine of global growth. Looking over a longer horizon, the Chinese economy will sustain a positive trajectory over the long run as we advance Chinese modernization in all respects through high-quality development and continuously unlock tremendous demand from our huge market of 1.4 billion people. More development in China is a great opportunity for the world. We are ready to continue to share opportunities with other countries to achieve common development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Auckland is known as the “City of Sails.” We Chinese say, “In a boat race, those who row the hardest win.” Going forward, let us row together, and set sail towards a brighter future of China-New Zealand friendship and cooperation!

Thank you!

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