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Governor-General Spch: President Hu Jintao Banquet

The Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright PCNZM, DBE
Governor-General of New Zealand
At a State Dinner to mark the visit of
President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China
October 25, 2003

Nga manuhiri tuarangi, nga rangatira ma, nga iwi o te motu, nga mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa.

Visitors from afar, respected guests, people from New Zealand, warm greetings to you all.

Your Excellency President Hu and Madame Liu Yongqing
Right Honourable Prime Minister
Our distinguished friends from China
Ladies and Gentlemen

Your Excellency, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to New Zealand. We are very conscious of the honour you do us by visiting New Zealand so early in your term as President of China. Your visit is testament to the strength of the relationship between China and New Zealand.

It is only thirty years ago that Ambassador John Scott, together with his distinguished Chinese colleague, Huang Hua, signed the communiqué that launched our modern relationship. Those thirty years have seen our common interests and endeavours expand into areas that few could have imagined in December 1972. That co-operation has helped both our nations grow. Tomorrow you will sit down with the Prime Minister to review the state of our relationship, and look to the directions in which we want our two nations to work together in the decades to come. You will be working in very fertile ground.

Your Excellency, the relationship between the Chinese and the New Zealand peoples goes back much further than those thirty years. Those who have written the history of those links can point to wide ranging contact long before our two governments sealed official ties. Our traditions as an exporter of high quality primary products go back to the end of the eighteenth century when traders were shipping seal skins from the South Island to the markets of Canton.

Contact between our people is also long standing. The first known Chinese to settle in New Zealand arrived in 1842, with many more coming to mine gold in Otago in the 1860s. Despite being subjected to shameful discriminatory policies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Chinese community led the way in building contacts between our two countries. The traditions that they brought with them to this land are now woven into the fabric of New Zealand’s cultural life and daily experience.

Early travellers between our countries would have been struck by the differences between their homeland and their destination. However, as adventurous and enterprising individuals, they saw opportunity. Trade between our countries grew, and with that came a new appreciation of our respective resources. Chinese products are now a part of everyday life here; and your people enjoy our wool, dairy products and even our kiwifruit.

The transformation of China’s economy is a mission upon which your government embarked twenty-five years ago. As China has set about this goal New Zealand companies, individuals and our Government have found ways to join with you to bring New Zealand’s experience and expertise to support you. There is great admiration for what you have achieved. I congratulate you on last week’s space-flight by Yang Liwei, a symbol of your movement to the frontiers of technology.

As part of this transformation, Chinese people enjoy growing connections with countries like New Zealand. The flow of people - for business, for education and for tourism - is the surest way of bringing our two countries closer together. More and more New Zealanders, young and old, are visiting China. They go to see the treasures of your rich and ancient culture. But they also go to experience the dynamism of modern China.

A growing number of New Zealanders, the young and the not so young, have gone to China to teach in your schools and universities. Coming in the other direction there are now 30,000 Chinese students in New Zealand. They bring a new perspective, and a new set of talents and interests to the institutions and communities they join. We welcome them. As well as the benefits of their formal education, we hope that they will carry home lasting friendships, valuable experience, fond memories, and a lifelong interest in building further links between New Zealand and China.

In the course of your visit here, Mr President, you will see examples of our world-class research, our pioneering work in the field of agricultural technology, and the way enterprising New Zealanders are working at the world’s frontiers of biotechnology. You will hear of our education system that underpins these achievements, and you will see the modern foundations being put in place upon which our two nations must work together to build prosperity for us all.

Mr President, you come here representing a country and a people for whom New Zealanders have developed the highest admiration. Your visit celebrates much that we have achieved thus far. But more importantly it confirms that ours is a long-term partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen please join with me in a toast to

His Excellency President Hu Jintao,
President of the People’s Republic of China

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