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China and New Zealand –30 Years of Diplomatic Relations
Hon John Luxton MP
2003/11/18


The relationship between the People's Republic of China and New Zealand continues to strengthen and mature with the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic links this year.

Both countries have changed markedly from the early years of the 1970s.   China was emerging from the turmoil of the "cultural revolution" and New Zealand still operated a largely closed and protected economy.   Since then the cold war has drawn to a close and globalisation with its information, communication and technological revolutions has brought the two countries much closer together.


Trade

Today we see the People's Republic of China as New Zealand's fourth largest trading partner as New Zealand exports more and more quality, largely agricultural, products to China and imports more and more quality manufactured products from China.   New Zealand was the first country to reach agreement on the People's Republic of China's accession to the World Trade Organisation which formally took place in Doha last year.

I personally believe that the complementarity of the respective economies of  the People's Republic of China and of New Zealand suggests that the two Governments should continue to trail blaze and look towards entering into a free trade agreement between our two countries ahead of the APEC and WTO deadlines.   Such an agreement would help both economies and particularly New Zealand, to grow.


Development

One cannot but be impressed with the ongoing development and modernisation of the People's Republic of China.   Shanghai/Pudong is now one of the world's most exciting and colourful cities.  Beijing is changing rapidly and will showcase China to the world with the 2008 Olympic Games.


Tourism

The large increase in tourism between the People's Republic of China and New Zealand over recent years is leading to an increasing understanding between the two countries.   New Zealanders are visiting China in increasing numbers experiencing the excitement of the cities, the history, diverse cultures and the mystic and magnificence of regions such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia.

At the same time the People's Republic of China has been the fastest growing source of inbound tourists to see New Zealand's unique travel experience.


Education

The large increase of educational exchanges at all levels from Government to Government, sister city to sister city, cultural and schooling through to university are all building the relationship between the People's Republic of China and New Zealand.  

English as a second language schooling has become an important sector of the New Zealand education system driven in part by the increasing number of Chinese students from the People's Republic.


Future

As each country gets to better know the other, then as friends we are able to openly discuss our occasional differences.   We see with economic development that citizens of each country are able to express and allow different views of sometimes contentious issues.   We also see an increasing focus on ensuring that both countries see environmental sustainability as an important goal.


Conclusion

As a New Zealand politician for half of the period during which we have had full diplomatic relations, I have observed a remarkable change in the relationship since 1987.  A lack of understanding and less open dialogue of the 1980s has changed to full and frank discussion on almost any issue now being possible between two friendly nations.   There is now a genuine friendliness between the people of our two countries and that is what peace is about.

We have made great progress in the friendship between our two countries over the last 30 years and we should celebrate that.   May our friendships continue to grow.

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