China President Xi Jinping has recognised New Zealand as an ‘important partner and friend’ and has proposed the relationship between our two countries be taken ‘to a higher level’.
The remarks were made in a face-to-face meeting between President Xi and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday 19 November that went on for almost twice the scheduled time. The meeting between the two country’s leaders was held on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Bangkok, which ended on Monday 21 November.
Chris Lipscombe, President of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, heartily supports the call for a closer relationship between New Zealand and China. ‘New Zealand has done extremely well out of our free trade agreement with China,’ says Lipscombe. ‘It’s in our interest to work with China to maintain and improve this relationship.’
Following her meeting with President Xi, PM Ardern reportedly identified climate change as the number one priority for our region and an area of potential cooperation with China. ‘For Pacific island nations, action on climate change is a matter of survival,’ Lipscombe adds. ‘If China can help, then let’s work with them to provide solutions. There’s no time to waste.’
President Xi, in his opening address to APEC Summit attendees, said that Asia must not become ‘an arena for big power contest’. He also spoke strongly against attempts to ‘politicise and weaponise economic and trade relations’.
Lipscombe agrees, saying that sabre-rattling is an unnecessary obstacle to regional development. ‘We have important work to do’ says Lipscombe, ‘and conflict doesn’t help. Peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific is in everyone’s interest.’