China, New Zealand ink range of multi-industry deals amid warming ties
New Zealand's newly elected Prime Minister describes relations with China as "the most significant and wide ranging."
New Zealand's Prime Minister Chris Hipkins signed during an official visit to China a basket of agreements aimed to develop trade ties between the two countries.
Hipkins, who is on a two-day business trip to China, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Tuesday amid plans to lift New Zealand's struggling economy.
During talks with Xi, China's leader stressed that the two nations should promote the "liberalization and facilitation" of trade and investment and create a better business environment for companies of both countries to facilitate and develop mutual work opportunities.
On his part, Hipkens described bilateral relations with Beijing as "the most significant and wide ranging," adding that the key focus of his visit was to help New Zealand's enterprises to reconnect and deepen ties with Chinese companies.
The Prime Minister also met with Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People and was greeted by a band reception from the People's Liberation Army.
"Our trading relationship is worth over NZ$40 (US$24) billion annually," Hipkins said, stressing the need to "reaffirm the important economic connections we have with China" and toning down previous criticisms over China's approach regarding Taiwan, its alleged role in supporting Russia in Ukraine, and human rights allegations.
Hipkins said, "Areas of difference, such as over human rights" were dealt with in a "respectful" way.
"I urged China to use its influence to encourage Russia to act consistently with its international obligations and cease its illegal war in Ukraine," he added.
Li welcomed his counterpart, describing him as "a young and promising politician," and hailed his visit "after less than half a year in office."
The multi-industry deals inked between the two states included science and innovation fields, agriculture, and education, in addition to forestry.
New Zealand's top-ranking official stressed that a "strong economic relationship" with China was "helping boost New Zealand's economic recovery," indirectly addressing sounds opposing his visit back home.
The Pacific nation fell into a recession earlier this year, mainly due to elections that put the country's business agendas in a stalemate, a decline in exports, and a slowdown in the country's agriculture industry, which represents a major chunk of its revenues.
China is New Zealand's largest trading partner, which raised criticism and concerns from its Western allies over what they described as Wellington's heavy reliance on trade with China.