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Remarks by Ambassador Wu Xi New Zealand China Friendship Society 2019 Conference
2019/05/25

Mr. Dave Bromwich,

Mr. Kirk Mcdowall,

Mr. Xie Yuan, Vice President of CPAFFC,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It's a great pleasure to be with you today. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the New Zealand China Friendship Society on the opening of the 2019 annual conference.

The theme of this year’s conference is "Dare to ask where to from here?"(敢问路在何方). This is an important and timely question for all of us.

For decades, we’ve witnessed the international political and economic landscape going through profound and complicated changes. More recently, the backlash against globalisation, rise of isolationism and renewed protectionism have begun to pose challenges to the international order, multilateralism and economic co-operation.

This puts us at a crossroad. So which road do we take?

No matter how the international and domestic situation evolves, the overwhelming majority of countries continue to seek cooperation, peace and prosperity. We live in a world where the interests of different countries are interconnected. It is important for us to work together and take a road which strengthens cooperation and shares the benefits of development on the basis of mutual respect and mutual gain.

This road is one of peaceful development. It is built on a foundation of regional stability and prosperity and requires us to walk together to bring real benefits to people from all backgrounds.

It is a road that embraces integration, upholds openness and promotes connectivity of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people.

It is a road of fostering exchange and dialogue between different civilizations and development models and leads to a stronger global community with a shared future.

This road is not and should not be one of zero-sum games and confrontation. Recently, the US has escalated trade tensions with China by unilaterally raising tariffs on Chinese exports. It has increased pressure on China and misused its power to suppress specific Chinese companies to maintain its own competitive advantages.

These moves have disrupt the accepted, rules-based international trading order. They have triggered fluctuations in international financial markets, undermined the multilateral trading system, and posed threats to the global supply chain. Simply put, they are inconsistent with the common expectations of the international community.

China has repeatedly made it clear that raising tariffs will not solve problems, and that initiating a trade war will harm others, as well as the country who initiates it.

China doesn’t want a trade war - but if one is brought to us we will have no choice but to react accordingly. We will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.

A trade war may hurt the Chinese economy in the short term, but it will not stop China’s long-term development. Since reform and opening-up in 1978, China has made huge strides in economic and social development. The fundamentals for continued and stable growth of the Chinese economy remain unchanged. In the first quarter of this year, growth expanded by 6.4%, reaching $3.18 trillion US dollars.

Looking ahead, China's economy is in a transition phase from development characterised by rapid growth, to one of higher quality development.

The new philosophy guiding this transition puts quality first and foremost, and gives priority to performance and modernisation of the economy.

Our main task is to pursue supply-side structural reform, and to achieve greater efficiency and more robust growth through reform.

This will see a lift in total factor productivity, and a faster transition to an industrial system with world class innovation, technology and talent. It will move us to an economy with more efficient market mechanisms, dynamic micro-entities, modern finance and sound macro-regulation. All these efforts will make China's economy more innovative and competitive.

As President Xi Jinping pointed out, the Chinese economy is not a pond, but an ocean. Ponds can be damaged by storms, winds and adverse weather, but oceans remain.

Since China and New Zealand established diplomatic relations in 1972, great progress has been made in our bilateral relationship. Our relationship has been a special one, at the forefront of China's relations with developed countries.

We have seen continued strengthening of trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges. These are all proof points of the value and signifiance of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and New Zealand.

Last month, Millions of Chinese and New Zealanders saw images of Prime Minister Ardern and Chinese leaders standing side by side in Beijing and the warmth of those images spoke volumes.

Our leaders agreed to strenthen the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership further, speed up negotiations to upgrade the bilateral Free Trade Agreement, provide a better operating environment for each other's companies, and deepen cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. We have also signed four new agreements to cooperate on taxation, agriculture, finance and scientific research and issued a joint statement on climate change.

All of these give us a clear strategic direction of the road ahead, and there is plenty we can do to make headway. We will work closely with our counterparts here in New Zealand to deliver on the consensus and vision shared by our leaders. We will strengthen high level exchanges. We will speed up the negotiations on upgrading the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. We will deepen our cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative and try to work out an action plan at an early date. We will make the 2019 Year of Tourism a great success, bringing our people-to-people exchanges to a new high.

We will also strengthen coordination and cooperation with New Zealand in the multilateral areas, and play a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Both New Zealand and China have benefited from a rules-based global trading system, and rely on an open and transparent global economy. It is in both our interests to support this openness and inclusiveness, and to stand against barriers to fair, free and open trade.

Since its establishment, the New Zealand China Friendship Society has been a window for New Zealanders to gain a real understanding of China. It has been a trailblazer in bilateral exchanges, and its role in encouraging friendship and the wider relationship cannot be overstated.

I sincerely hope that New Zealand China Friendship Society will continue its work of building the future relationship between China and New Zealand and make new contributions to promoting friendly exchanges and cooperation between our two nations.

Ladies and gentlemen, “敢问路在何方,路在脚下”, Dare to ask where to from here? We may be at the crossroads, but the road we should take together is clear. In fact, it is right in front of us.

Through our hard work and partnership, the friendship between China and NZ will evolve into a stronger, more prosperous and more resilient one in the years, decades, and indeed in the generations to come.

Thank you, and all the best for a successful conference.

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