China's highest ranking woman politician, Liu Yandong, ended a two-day visit to New Zealand, marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries which formally occurs on December 22.

She was hosted to a ministerial dinner last night at Premier House in Wellington.

China had been considering hosting Mr Key for a visit this month to mark the 40th anniversary but that is now expected to take place next year after the new leadership has settled in.

Yesterday Madam Liu met with Education Minister Hekia Parata and Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.


Mr Joyce and Chinese deputy minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang signed a declaration supporting science and technology links.

From 2012 to 2016 the two countries will jointly spend up to $10 million on approved projects that advance bilateral science and technology co-operation in three areas: food safety and security; non-communicable diseases; and water research. Each county will contribute $5 million.

On Sunday Madam Liu met Mr Key and Auckland Mayor Len Brown, visited Auckland University and was guest of honour at a dinner hosted by Sir Don McKinnon as chairman of the New Zealand Council.

She is a member of the politburo and a state councillor with responsibilities for education, science, screen and television, and culture.

Earlier in the year there was some speculation that she might make it to the elite seven-member standing committee of the politburo in the leadership reshuffle in November but that did not occur.

She is one of two women on the 25-member politburo.