PM Ardern to visit China for one-day meeting with Xi, Li
By Gavin Evans
March 25 (BusinessDesk) - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will travel to China on Sunday for a one-day meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
Ardern said the visit had been planned some weeks ago and was originally to have included a business delegation. It was cut back due to the attacks on the Linwood and Al Noor mosques in Christchurch earlier this month.
“This is an important visit. New Zealand places a high priority on our relationship with China. Our businesses value the relationships they have and I do look forward to our on-going engagement,” Ardern said at her post-Cabinet press conference today.
“I expect discussions will include a broad range of bilateral regional and international issues of common interest, including on upgrading our free trade agreement, protecting and promoting a rule-based international trading system and combatting climate change.”
China is New Zealand’s biggest trading partner. Last month Ardern played down claims that relations with Beijing had soured following a string of perceived slights, including moves by the Government Communications Security Bureau to bar Huawai Technologies’ equipment from the country’s planned 5G mobile network.
The absence of an invitation to visit was seen by some as a deliberate response from China to a range of developments in the wider New Zealand-China relationship, including a government investigation of Chinese government subsidies on steel exported here, criticism of China's expansionism in the South China Sea, acquiring new air force reconnaissance planes capable of carrying anti-submarine weaponry, and the so-called "Pacific reset" in foreign policy, in which Foreign Minister Winston Peters delivered a strong plea in December for increased US presence in the region.
Ardern’s visit was originally going to include visits to three centres, including Beijing and Shanghai. She was also to have visited Singapore en route.
Today she said her visit on Monday will include the official opening of New Zealand’s new embassy in China.
“China is an important regional and global actor with whom we must work on challenges facing the global community and those critical to the security and prosperity of our region.”