In an exclusive interview with the New Zealand Herald, China's Ambassador Wu Xi discusses Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's first official visit to Beijing.
What are China's priorities for the top-level discussions with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern?
Ambassador Wu Xi: We believe her visit will enhance mutual understanding and trust between the two countries, expand exchanges and co-operation in various fields, and inject new impetus into the development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and NZ. While the world is faced with many unstable and uncertain factors, it's all the more necessary for China and NZ to strengthen high-level exchanges and promote pragmatic co-operation on the basis of mutual respect and win-win outcome. It will not only bring tangible benefits to our two peoples, but play a positive role in maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole.
The world is confronting challenges to multilateralism; where is the opportunity for New Zealand and China to co-operate on common challenges?
Ambassador Wu Xi: It is true that multilateralism is facing serious challenges. Protectionism and unilateralism is resurging, economic co-operation faces headwinds and the free trading system is increasingly challenged. But with the development of globalisation and the advancement of science and technology, countries are increasingly interdependent. Both countries are committed to strengthen collaboration in the fields of climate change, global economic governance and regional security.
How would you describe the current state of the bilateral relationship between New Zealand and China?
Ambassador Wu Xi: New Zealand is China's important partner in Asia-Pacific. The bilateral relations have maintained good momentum in recent years. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, enormous achievements have been made in bilateral co-operation in various fields with unprecedented breadth and depth. We have seen continued strengthening of trade, investment and people-to-people links. We have enjoyed an impressive list of "firsts" in China's relations with developed countries. All of these demonstrate the underlying significance and the far-reaching implications of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and New Zealand. China is committed to expanding bilateral co-operation and strengthening the comprehensive strategic partnership with New Zealand on the basis of mutual respect and trust, equality and mutual benefit.
In a recent speech you cautioned, "When sailing through unchartered waters, it is vitally important to firmly hold the rudder, carefully steering through the rocks." What are those rocks in the relationship between our two countries?
Ambassador Wu Xi: Over the past decade, the international political and economic landscape has been going through profound and complex changes. The backlash against globalisation, emerging isolationism and resurgent protectionism all pose challenges to the existing international order and system. As the international and regional situation keeps evolving, both China and New Zealand face identical, or similar, new problems and challenges. However, no matter how the international and domestic situations change, co-operation and pursuit of peace, stability and prosperity remain the dominant theme of the world.
Will the leaders set expectations for the conclusion of the negotiations towards an upgrade of the 2008 free trade agreement between China and NZ?
Ambassador Wu Xi: The leaders' meeting will certainly promote bilateral economic and trade relations, including giving a further push to the negotiations on upgrading the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. The two sides have already carried out six rounds of negotiations, and considerable progress has been made. We hope the two teams will step up their efforts and reach consensus at an early date.
There has been controversy over Huawei's possible participation in New Zealand's adoption of 5G services. Do you expect this to be on the agenda in Beijing?
Ambassador Wu Xi: The leaders of both sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on China-New Zealand relations, including economic co-operations. Over the years, the Chinese companies operating in New Zealand markets have made important contributions to New Zealand's economic and social development. Huawei has had good co-operation with NZ local telecommunication companies, and has offered quality services with competitive price. Huawei observes the laws and regulations of New Zealand as well as international rules. There is no evidence to prove Huawei poses a threat to New Zealand.
The Chinese community is the fastest growing in New Zealand; what role can they play in developing this country's prosperity?
Ambassador Wu Xi: The Chinese community has made great contributions to the economic and social development of New Zealand. They have also built a bridge of friendship between the Chinese and New Zealand people. We hope they will continue to contribute to the development of China-NZ relations.