The SINO-New Zealand Link: Brian Lynch Reports on a Joint Seminar to Celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between China and New Zealand
Lynch, Brian, New Zealand International Review
Delegations representing the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) and the NZIIA, met in Wellington on 20-21 May 2007. The Hong-Kong based Tianda Institute also took part. The occasion was one of a number of events to mark the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand. It coincided with the opening by the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, of the first New Zealand Centre in China, at Peking University.
The two delegations took the opportunity to jointly review the evolution of the bilateral relationship since 1972. They identified a broad spectrum of opportunities for future collaboration between the two countries. It was a timely setting in which to take stock of some of the big issues confronting the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Although this was the first seminar to be co-hosted by the two institutes, an easy familiarity was immediately evident, and the dialogue took place in a relaxed and good-humoured atmosphere. The exchanges were frank and at times spirited, wide-ranging and substantial. This was recognised as being in keeping with the 'robust good health' of the relationship. By general agreement bilateral ties were now mature, practical and highly valued by both parties.
It was noted that the relationship was also on the eve of achieving a major new dimension. The negotiation of a free trade agreement was now in what was hoped would be its final stages. A successful outcome would be the fourth 'first' for the relationship; the others being the bilateral accord on Chinas WTO accession, New Zealand's recognition of China as a market economy, and New Zealand having been the first developed economy to initiate free trade negotiations with China. The recent inauguration of direct air services was another practical 'first'.
The fourteen-member CPIFA delegation was co-led by Zhao Qizheng, Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Zha Peixin, CPIFA Vice-President and most recently Chinas Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Other members were drawn from strategic studies institutes and research academies in and outside Beijing, Xinhua News, and Chinas private sector. The Chinese Embassy in Wellington was also represented.
The group of eighteen New Zealand participants was the most broad-based the NZIIA had ever assembled for such an event. It came from the NZIIA Standing Committee, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, and a range of relevant departments and institutes at the universities of Auckland, Canterbury, and Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington, including the Centre for Strategic Studies.
In their presentations the two leading CPIFA speakers emphasised the extensive exchanges and co-operation in a diverse range of fields--cultural, economic, education, judicial, science and technology, and trade and tourism--that now underpinned the bilateral connection. The increasing frequency of high-level political visits was a good measure of the strength of the relationship, as was the above 20 per cent growth in two-way trade in the past year. This, however, was only an indication of the economic potential from which New Zealand could benefit, utilising its rich natural resources in areas such as agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry, and its sophisticated commercial and research sectors.
Particular attention was drawn to China's latest Five Year Plan. Its significant stress was on developing energy security, building a resource efficient society, and technical innovation. These were all priority areas in which New Zealand had acknowledged expertise. Chinas GDP of 2000 was expected to double by 2010. The country was already 40 per cent urbanised. The non-rural population would continue to expand, creating huge and accelerating demand for imported food and consumer goods. …