Also available as PDF: MEDIA RELEASE DC 21-6-2022
Former Minister of Agriculture and Speaker of the House the Right Honorable Sir David Carter has labelled current attitudes towards China as ‘a misunderstanding or misconception’.
‘China is a modern-day economy,’ he said. ‘Sure, China doesn’t do everything the way we do things. We have every right to say our piece on things like human rights, and other aspects where we have a different point of view.
‘But we have a responsibility to express that point of view with respect as to our differences — and with acknowledgement and I would say admiration for China’s achievement.’
Sir David described New Zealand as a ‘proudly independent sovereign nation’, with every right to develop its own independent foreign policy.
‘We can be friends with whomever we want, and no country should ever dare to tell us otherwise,’ he said.
Sir David made his comments over the weekend in a speech to the 70th Annual Conference of the New Zealand China Friendship Society. Sir David is a patron of the Society.
Sir David reminded his audience that he had been farming for 50 years, twice as long as he had been a politician. In making his comments about who he wanted to see New Zealand being friends with, he said he was influenced by which of our friends allows us to trade easily with them.
‘Do we have a Free Trade Agreement with the United States of America, or with the European Union? The answer is no.
‘So for me personally, as a farmer, as an exporter, that ability to trade freely is hugely important to me.’
New Zealand signed a free trade agreement with China in 2008. An upgrade to this agreement came into force earlier this year.
Newly elected President of the Society Chris Lipscombe congratulated Sir David on his willingness to speak out against negative views of China.
‘I’m delighted to be working with someone like Sir David who understands the value of our ongoing friendship with China,’ President Lipscombe said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China. The New Zealand China Friendship Society has been advocating for friendship, goodwill and understanding between the two countries since 1952.