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China State Councillor Liu Yandong visit to New Zealand a success

This week State Councillor Liu Yandong visited New Zealand as a guest of the New Zealand Government – the first visit by a senior Communist Party figure since China’s November leadership transition. State Councillor Liu is a senior leader in China’s government and her portfolios include education, science, screen and television, and culture.

During her visit a New Zealand-China joint declaration was signed, which will boost science and technology links and co-operation between the two countries. It was co-signed by Chinese Deputy-Minister of Science and Technology, Wang Zhigang.

The joint declaration underlines the strong links New Zealand and China share in science and technology – confirming our intention to further boost co-operation between our two countries in this area.

The National-led Government places enormous value on the bilateral trade and economic relationship with China, our second largest trading partner. Since 2008 the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement has seen trade between our countries increase by more than 50 per cent and we want this growth to continue.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment of New Zealand and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China have also agreed to increase funding over the next 5 years (2012-2016) to enhance and support bilateral science and technology co-operation, totalling $10 million (CNY 50 million).

Further, an agreement which will increase education cooperation between New Zealand and China was signed. The Education declaration was co-signed by Chinese Minister of Education, Yuan Guiren and aims to enhance business opportunities for New Zealand’s university, polytechnic and skills sectors.

State Councillor Liu Yandong’s visit will help support New Zealand’s crucial education industry links with China. It also furthers our interest in greater collaboration in education services. The Education agreement provides a foundation for officials’ work in this important economic, social and political area of the relationship.

State Councillor Liu’s visit is a part of our celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and China.

During her visit, she met Prime Minister John Key, called on Auckland Mayor Len Brown and visit Auckland University. It was my pleasure to join State Councillor Liu at a dinner hosted by the New Zealand China Council.

In Wellington, State Councillor Liu met with New Zealand recipients of the Chinese Government Friendship Award, and with representatives of the New Zealand-based Chinese community, as well as attending an official dinner at Premier House.

It’s great to see the New Zealand-China relationship flourishing. I think we are absolutely on the right track as a country, though there is a lot more work to be done.

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