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Chinese Delegation looks to the future

Chinese Delegation looks to the future

The Executive Director of Asia 2000, Christopher Butler, has expressed regret that the organisers of the Sister City Convention in Masterton have asked Chinese delegates not to attend.

Mr Butler said that he had met Chinese delegation leader Mme Li Xiaolin and members of her delegation in Wellington. They were naturally disappointed, Mr Butler said, but had responded with grace and courtesy.

"Madam Li requested that I convey a message to the Sister Cities Convention over the weekend," Mr Butler said. "She said that the delegation will look towards the future and work hard to build closer relationships between China and New Zealand."

"She also asked New Zealanders to give strong support to the sister city movement, and expressed the hope that they would come and visit China."

"The absence of the Chinese delegation will create a large gap in the conference," Mr Butler said. "Chinese sister cities are among the main drivers of a very useful network which links New Zealand with its most important regional partners."

"I regret very much that community anxiety over possible exposure to SARs has resulted in a situation where guests who have travelled a long distance to be in New Zealand cannot be made welcome at the event."

Mr Butler said that he sympathised with Sister Cities New Zealand, which had invested a great deal of effort in the convention.

"The convention was to have been a springboard to a new level of engagement between citizens of a region with which New Zealand has some of its most extensive ties. It is disappointing for them that strong community concerns will result in a less representative meeting."

"The absence of China, which has always placed great emphasis on people to people contacts, is a particular regret," he said. "China is a very important partner for New Zealand in terms of trade, education, tourism, migration, cultural exchange and regional diplomacy."

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