Insights | New Zealand scholar: NZ, China hail close ties as they further sign trade deals and strengthen cooperation

2024-06-22 Editor : Feng Shuang ECNS App Download

By Chen Caixia 

(ECNS) -- "The visit of Chinese Premier Li Qiang to New Zealand is enormously exciting. This is a chance now to refresh our relationship and to think where we might go next with our bilateral agreements,"said Chris Lipscombe, New Zealand China Friendship Society National President, during an online interview with China News Network. 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between New Zealand and China. In the past decade, bilateral relations have made historic progress. 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.

"Our combined trade of imports and exports is almost 40 billion New Zealand dollars now,"said Lipscombe."So, both parties are very focused on what it will take to increase that and bring benefits to both countries. Meanwhile, the conversation has started about how we actually create a freer environment for the trade and services. This is a very important next step in our bilateral agreements around trade." 

Lipscombe noted that there is strong cooperation in the areas of science, agricultural research and international law enforcement. "There's a strong focus on exchanging information and experiences in those areas," added Lipscombe. 

He also illustrated that in 2023, he took a delegation of young professionals to China, focusing specifically on urban planning and how to fight climate change. 

"And we were looking at issues of sponge cities and how we can build resilience into urban environments. And that was a wonderful exchange of views between professionals in Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou. I'm looking at some of the preservation of ancient towns and some of the work that's been done there in Jiangsu province," said Lipscombe. "It was great to see the exchange of ideas and information between a younger cohort. Because after all, these are the seeds we plant to grow into friendship over the next 20, 30 years." 

Meanwhile, he also stressed that there has been a concerted effort over a period to boost Chinese language learning in New Zealand, particularly in local schools. 

"I'm also a trustee of the New Zealand Chinese Language Week, which is a week-long focus every year on the learning of Chinese language. Because we know how important the learning of the language is to the engagement with the culture and from that springs friendship and trade, and also contributes to regional peace and prosperity," said Lipscombe. 

As for China extending visa-free travel to New Zealanders, Lipscombe especially mentioned it's very important not only in terms of tourism or even individuals being able to visit families or for business, and it's actually making it so much easier for them to be able to put together delegations, create teams to be able to visit China. And it will smooth the path for those kinds of interactions, which will be fantastic.


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