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Investing key in talks with New Zealand

By XU WEI and HU YONGQI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-02 05:08
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, April 1, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Xi advocates accelerating FTA upgrade in meeting with PM Jacinda Ardern

President Xi Jinping called on New Zealand to provide a fair and unbiased business environment for Chinese investors while hailing the country as a sincere friend and cooperative partner in a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday.

China will continue to support capable businesses in seeking investment opportunities in New Zealand, and the two nations should accelerate talks over upgrading their bilateral free-trade agreement, Xi said.

The one-day visit by Ardern, her first since coming to office in October 2017, came after New Zealand stopped mobile phone company Spark from using Huawei equipment in its planned 5G upgrade in November, citing security concerns.

Xi said the timing of the visit also indicated the great importance Ardern places on relations with China.

Under the new circumstances, it is important for both sides to stick to the principle of mutual trust and benefits, and keep enriching the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, he said.

China is willing to work with New Zealand to enable their bilateral relations to continue to play a pioneering role in China's relations with the West, he added.

Xi also called on both sides to step up mutual understanding, trust and respect each other's core interests and major concerns with an open, inclusive spirit.

Xi added that China welcomes New Zealand to take part in building the Belt and Road.

He also urged greater bilateral cooperation in international affairs, jointly promoting the development of an open world economy and safeguarding multilateralism and the multilateral trading regime.

China has prioritized coping with the challenges of the climate change and is willing to work with New Zealand to jointly promote the sustainable development of Pacific island countries, he said.

The two nations should also further exchanges and cooperation in areas including education, culture, science and technology as well as ensuring the success of the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism events, he said.

Ardern expressed her appreciation for Xi's condolences and support following the terrorist attack in Christchurch, adding that her choice to proceed with the visit despite the event "does reflect the value New Zealand places on its relationship with China".

She called the bilateral relationship "one of our most important and far-reaching relationships", a point she said she has made in speeches over the past year.

She said she hopes that through the visit, the two nations can strengthen their bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership and deepen cooperation in trade and people-to-people exchanges.

She also reiterated New Zealand's adherence to the one-China policy and its independent foreign policy, as well as its firm support for multilateralism and free trade.

Ardern met with Premier Li Keqiang on Monday morning, and the two witnessed the signing of four cooperative documents to promote cooperation in tax issues, agriculture, finance and science at a signing ceremony. A joint declaration on climate change was also released after their meeting.

Zhao Jianglin, a researcher of Asia-Pacific economic studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the visit by Ardern will provide a timely boost to China-New Zealand relations after the dispute over the use of Chinese telecom equipment.

China has been a key trade partner with New Zealand, which could also provide important support to the Belt and Road Initiative and China's relations with countries in the South Pacific, she said.

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