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Ambassador Wu Xi's Remarks at the China Business Summit 2020
2020/07/21

 

Advancing China-NZ relations and bilateral cooperation in challenging times

E ngā mana

E ngā reo

E ngā rau rangatira mā

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou kātoa

Right Honourable Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,

Honourable Minister David Parker,

Honourable Mayor Phil Goff,

Right. Honourable Helen Clark,

Members of Parliament,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It's a great honour to be invited to address today's prominent participants at the China Business Summit. My thanks to NZ INC and the Auckland Business Chamber of Commerce for the invitation, and my congratulations to you on this special occasion. Events like this are only possible when New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of COVID-19 with strong leadership, professional management, and solidarity among all Kiwis.

Nobody would have expected that a pandemic like COVID-19 would define the first year of the 3rd decade of the 21st century, with such wide-ranging and far-reaching impacts. At this moment, the pandemic is still raging across the world and is yet to reach its peak, threatening the lives and livelihood of people in many countries. It has caused an economic recession of a scale that may only be matched by the Great Depression of the 20th century.

It has also presented a direct challenge to global cooperation. The pandemic has led to a surge of unilateralism and bullying from some countries.

Despite all the set-backs and challenges, we believe that globalisation is here to stay. The theme of the 21st century will still be peace and stability, development and prosperity. The future of mankind and the destinies of all countries still lie in cooperation, rather than confrontation. Pursuing zero-sum game and portraying others as adversaries or enemies will lead to no where and will only harm one's own interests.

No matter how the international situation may evolve, China will remain committed to the path of peaceful development and pursuing mutual benefit and win-win cooperation with all countries including NZ. The outbreak of COVID-19 will only entrench China's commitment to globalisation and multilateralism. China stands for the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

While the world is at a critical moment, so is our bilateral relationship. Our two countries, different in size, culture and social system, have made history by achieving many "firsts" in our bilateral relationship. The fundamentals of our relations are strong. Natural economic complementarity has served our two countries well. Practical cooperation in various fields has gone from strength to strength and benefited our two peoples enormously.

However, we should not take our relationship for granted. We shall make sure our bilateral relations are immune to the various viruses in these trying times. The key to our successful bilateral relationship in the past decades is our commitment to practical cooperation and respect for each other's core interests and accomondation of each other's major concerns. Instead of trying to change or remodel the other, we respect each other. I am confident that we will carry on this tradition.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has not pushed us apart from each other - rather, it has brought us even closer together. We supported each other in fighting against the virus. Our trade remains steady. According to the latest statistics, New Zealand's exports to China in the three months to May were NZ$4.45 billion, accounting for half of NZ exports to the wider Asia region, and one third of the APEC economies. China remains by far the largest export destination for New Zealand.

While the COVID-19 brings challenges, it also gives us opportunities to tap the new potential for cooperation. I would like to highlight the following points specifically:

First, we should explore new areas of cooperation and open our doors even wider. We should take advantage of the FTA upgrade to expand cooperation in new areas such as health care, quality food, e-commerce, aged care and many others. China is set to establish Hainan province as a free trade zone, focusing on trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation. As this plan unfolds, the business communities in both countries will find a lot of new opportunities. We should also explore the opportunity to leverage the potential of 'The Southern Link' with New Zealand acting as a hub between Asia and South America.

Second, we need to promote comprehensive dialogue and cooperation. We look forward to the 30th Joint Trade and Economic Consultations to advance the trade agenda. We should start the first round of fiscal and financial dialogue, which is essential for us to weather the uncertainties of the international financial market.

Third, we shall keep giving our strong support to multilateralism, including the multilateral trading system, and regional process for trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation. China has joined in the supply chain connectivity initiative launched by New Zealand and Singapore. As RCEP parties, we should promote the full conclusion of the negotiation of the agreement as early as possible. China would like to work closely with New Zealand leading up to APEC 2021 and beyond to inject more dynamism and credibility into regional economic cooperation.

As comprehensive strategic partners, China and NZ should continue to maintain strategic commitment in difficult times, and support each other on issues concerning our sovereignty and territorial integrity. China has always followed the principle of non-interference in others' internal affairs. At the same time, China stands ready to safeguard its core and major interests. Issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet all touch on China's sovereignty and security. There is no room for foreign interference on these issues.

Last month, China put forward national security legislation for Hong Kong SAR. The legislation is designed to hold accountable a very small number of criminals who put national security in serious jeopardy. This legislation has taken into full consideration the needs of safeguarding national security and the specific conditions of the HKSAR. The legislation has drawn opinions extensively from Hong Kong society, and sets out systemic and comprehensive provisions regarding the legal system and enforcement mechanisms at both national and regional levels. It upholds the constitutional order in the SAR established by the Constitution and the Basic Law, and demonstrates the inherent requirements of "one country, two systems". It does not impact the judicial independence or the high degree of autonomy in HKSAR, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, or the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong. I am fully confident that the national security law will only bring about a more stable, prosperous and attractive Hong Kong.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in Chinese philosophy, we never let a crisis go without turning it into opportunities. COVID-19 is a crisis that has aggravated the multitude of challenges we face. Yet, together we will overcome the crisis and the challenges. The world will emerge from this crisis stronger and better than before. This is our common destiny.

In China we say 'learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back'. To this end, China stands ready to work even more closely with New Zealand through these challenging times.

Thank you.

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