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Clark: Address at Wen Jiabao Luncheon

Thursday 6 April 2006

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at
Official Luncheon in Honour of
His Excellency Wen Jiabao
Premier of People’s Republic of China

Beehive Banquet Hall
Parliament Buildings

1.00 pm

Thursday 6 April 2006

Your Excellency, Premier Wen Jiabao,
Ministers from the People’s Republic of China and other distinguished members of the delegation,
Madam Speaker,
Ministers, Leader of the Opposition, and parliamentary colleagues,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my great pleasure to welcome the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Mr Wen Jiabao, and his distinguished delegation of Ministers and officials from China to Parliament today. It is an honour to have you visit New Zealand.

This morning Premier Wen and I have celebrated the strength of the relationship between New Zealand and China. The Premier’s presence here with us today is testimony to the importance which China places on developing its ties with New Zealand. We welcome you here, Mr Premier, because of the importance we place on the development of New Zealand’s relations with China.

In the mid 1980s, I chaired a parliamentary inquiry into New Zealand’s relations with China. There was a lot of interaction then at the official level, but nothing like the broad based and comprehensive relationship which exists between our countries today.

These days, our links are diverse.

- Our two way trade is now worth more than $5½ billion a year, and we are constantly looking for new areas in which that trade can grow.

- In education, New Zealand is host to nearly thirty thousand Chinese students studying at many levels. Today Premier Wen and I have agreed on a new initiative for co-operation on high-level educational research and vocational training.

- The tourist flows are growing, with 85,000 people coming here from China last year.

In other links: our scientists work together; our arts and culture are exhibited in each other’s countries; and our sister city and other civil society links are bringing our peoples and communities closer together.

In our discussions this morning, the Premier and I agreed that we must build on these ties. We also look forward to closer collaboration in APEC and at the East Asian Summit, as well as in the many other international organisations of which we are both members. We are engaged in a bilateral free trade negotiation which offers opportunities for the development of both our economies. We agree on the importance of peace and security in our region to realising the ambitions we both hold for our economic development.

New links to China will open up in November, when Air New Zealand begins a direct air service from Auckland to Shanghai. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing will focus New Zealanders on China, and two years later the Shanghai Expo will be a big draw card.

I am able to announce today that the New Zealand Government has decided that New Zealand will participate in the Shanghai Expo, so that we can showcase there New Zealand’s unique blend of an innovative economy, a diverse and fair society, a beautiful natural environment, and cultural creativity.

In the 21st century, we marvel at the sheer magnitude of China’s growth, and the dramatic development it is unleashing. New Zealand can be both a contributor to and a beneficiary of China’s growth and development.

Mr Premier, successive generations of Chinese migrants have brought Chinese culture, language, and traditions to New Zealand. New Zealanders of Chinese origin have long made an important contribution to our country.

Over the years, China and New Zealand have built a strong relationship based on building on our common interests and discussing differences openly and freely. Our discussions today have been marked by a spirit of dialogue, forward-looking co-operation, and a commitment to find ways in which we can bring benefit to each other.

Once again, Mr Premier, welcome to New Zealand.

Ladies and Gentlemen, can I now ask you to rise to a toast to the President and people of the People’s Republic of China.


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