In June 2023, New Zealand's Prime Minister Chris Hipkins made an historic visit to China. This visit marked an important step towards strengthening the diplomatic ties between the two countries, and gave Hipkins an opportunity to engage with China's leaders on various issues of mutual concern. Before heading to Beijing, Hipkins described New Zealand’s relationship with China as a “critical part of our economic recovery.” In this post, we'll explore some of the highlights from this visit and explore how New Zealand’s relationship with China will help boost our post Covid economic recovery.
Recent tension between New Zealand and China has received much media coverage. It all started when New Zealand joined with other countries in condemning China's treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority. However, tensions seem to be starting to ease, and Prime Minister Hipkin’s visit serves as a sign that both countries are willing to cooperate where economic incentives align. New Zealand remains committed to maintaining a solid relationship with China, which is a critical trading partner to the country.
Premier Li and Prime Minister Hipkins took part in the signing of a range of cooperative arrangements in trade, agriculture, forestry, education, and science and innovation, some of the highlights include:
Chris Hipkins met with Chinese business leaders to discuss the existing trade arrangements and explore opportunities for further growth. As a result, the two sides noted their intention to strengthen bilateral trade, and expand cooperation in areas such as e-commerce, trade in services, green economy, and promote the establishment of a dialogue mechanism on new energy vehicles.
Climate change was another critical issue that Chris Hipkins discussed with China's leaders during his visit. China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and New Zealand has long been a vocal advocate for international action on climate change. During the meeting, both countries agreed to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean energy. This is a significant step in the right direction, as it shows that even the world's biggest polluter is beginning to take this issue seriously.
New Zealand has always been a popular destination for Chinese students wanting to study abroad, and during his visit, Hipkins met with representatives from several Chinese universities to explore further opportunities for collaboration. As a result, both countries agreed to set up exchange programs, joint scientific research projects, and other educational initiatives that will benefit students from both countries.
Tourism between both countries was high on the agenda. With air connectivity beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels, the return of tourists is key to our economic recovery. During the visit, Hipkins progressed arrangements under the Free Trade Upgrade with the aim to boost the arrival of Chinese visitors.
During the visit, Chris Hipkins also discussed regional security issues with China's leaders. The collaboration of countries within the Asia-Pacific region is becoming increasingly important, both economically and strategically. Both countries agreed to deepen their cooperation in this area.
Finally, Chris Hipkins' visit also focused on building stronger people-to-people ties between New Zealand and China. During the visit, he met with members of the Chinese community in New Zealand and visited cultural and historical sites, such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. These interactions and exchanges serve to deepen understanding and foster greater respect and cooperation between the two countries.
In conclusion, Chris Hipkins' visit to China in June 2023, while not groundbreaking in its significance, was a step in the right direction in terms of further strengthening economic ties. It opened the door to new opportunities for trade, investment, education, and cultural exchange, while also addressing critical global issues such as climate change and regional security.
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