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Prime Minister's China President Banquet Address

7.30 PM SUNDAY 26 OCTOBER 2003

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at



Rangitoto Ballroom
Sheraton Hotel

7.30 pm
Sunday 26 October 2003

Your Excellency, President Hu Jintao,
Madame Liu Yongqing
Distinguished guests from China and New Zealand
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour to welcome you here tonight Mr President, and to express to you and your party our pleasure that so early in your term of office as president of China you are visiting our country.

It is now over thirty years since New Zealand established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. In that time there have been many high level exchanges between our two countries, which we greatly value.

New Zealand and China share a home in the Asia-Pacific region, but we have very different histories and cultures. So we need to familiarise ourselves with each other, learn what is new and what is unchanged, and assess where our relationship can take us in the future.

For China, the task of understanding modern New Zealand is being made easier by the increased numbers of your citizens who are coming to New Zealand. They are coming as migrants, tourists, students, business people, and to see family. The greatly increased numbers of Chinese visitors and migrants is one of the most significant changes in our relationship since your predecessor, President Jiang Zemin, visited New Zealand four years ago.

The New Zealand Government welcomes the contribution which people from China are making to our country. Their presence here will strengthen the ties between us. And we will take pride in seeing young people from China who have studied in New Zealand playing their part in the ongoing development of the People's Republic.

Those from China who visit New Zealand know that there is far more to New Zealand than its great scenic beauty. They know that New Zealand has world class research institutes doing pioneering work in biotechnology, some of direct relevance to China. They know that New Zealand has nurtured Nobel prize winning scientists and has high technology and innovative industries. They know that New Zealand has world class film makers and advanced service sectors. They know that New Zealand is among the world’s leading users of internet technology and mobile phones. They know also that New Zealand is an independent minded country which is dedicated to building a more peaceful and prosperous world. All these characteristics provide an excellent foundation for partnerships between New Zealand and China in the 21st century.

In our talks this afternoon, we both expressed optimism about the future of links between China and New Zealand. We committed ourselves to working together to realise the potential that our trading, investment, science and technology, education, and people to people links hold for both countries. We reiterated our support for APEC’s call for the early resumption of negotiations on a new WTO Round, and agreed that our officials should work together closely when those negotiations resume.

I am pleased that we were also able to sign today a number of agreements which will take our relationship forward. We have also committed ourselves to examining in more detail the possibilities for the future in our trade and economic relationship. There are profound changes going on in the economy of your country, which New Zealanders need to know more about.

My government is keen to encourage more New Zealanders to take up the challenge of trading with China. I am therefore very pleased that in honour of your visit, the New Zealand China Trade Association has announced the establishment of a biennial award for the most successful new entrant to the China market by a New Zealand exporter. The first award is to be presented in 2004.

Mr President. You and I have come here from the APEC summit in Bangkok, one of the many forums in which both China and New Zealand participate. The relationship between us is shaped and extended by what is happening elsewhere in the region and in the world.

We value the efforts China has made, with others, to help resolve a difficult situation on the Korean peninsula. While we do not share your proximity to the peninsula, we are equally concerned that the situation should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international standards on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

More broadly, we value the opportunities that we have, and have just had today, to exchange views in a constructive and friendly manner, including on those issues on which we may not always see things the same way. That is a true test of friendship.

A very long time ago the great philosopher Confucius said : Is it not a good thing when friends come from afar? It is indeed a good thing. We are pleased Mr President and Madame Liu that you have come. We hope you will come again. And we are confident that through the impetus given by your visit, we will be able to craft a relationship between our two countries which will match the aspirations we both have for our peoples and for this new century.


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