BEIJING - China has asked for an assurance that the New Zealand Government has not changed its investment policies in the wake of the decision to block the sale of Lochinver station to Shanghai Pengxin.
Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang directly asked Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce for the assurance in a 45 minute meeting in Beijing yesterday.
"I was asked if this decision signalled a change in policy by New Zealand," said Joyce. "I was able to assure him that was not the case."
The Chinese position was underlined again today when Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told the opening session of the China New Zealand Partnership Forum in Beijing that China hoped it was a "one-off".
Cabinet Ministers Paula Bennett and Louise Upston last week turned down Pengxin's $88 million bid to buy the iconic North Island station saying it did not create enough economic upside for New Zealand.
Joyce said he made it clear to the Vice-Premier that the two Cabinet Ministers made their decision based on the criteria laid out in the Overseas Investment Act.
"This particular decision was made by the ministers...New Zealand welcomes investment provided it provides that economic benefit to NZ as laid out in the act."
He also told Wang Yang that New Zealand would welcome further investment and that "there are opportunities there at the moment".
"I literally don't think there has been any change and there will be further land transactions go through."
An investment report released in Beijng today indicates that Shanghai Pengxin has a number of other applications currently in front of the Overseas Investment Office. These include a $42.7 million deal to buy the Pinny Farms in Northland and a further agreement to buy a 1235 ha dairy farm from Fleming & Co in the central North Island for $21.7 million.
Speaking outside the forum, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told the Herald that enthusiasm among Chinese investors for New Zealand is strong.
"We are hoping that it [Lochinver] is an isolated case."
The forum was jointly organised by the New Zealand China Council and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges and featured high-level discussion on a range of topical issues key to the bilateral relationship.