Silvereye Jo Coughlan met the new Chinese Ambassador Wu Xi at the Welcome Reception
24 April 2018
Honourable Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture,
Honourable Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples,
Excellencies,members of Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking you for being here this evening. I would like to convey the sincere greetings and best wishes from China.
Since my arrival, I’ve been enjoying warm hospitality and strong support from the New Zealand government, my old friends in New Zealand and the Diplomatic Corps. So allow me to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to all of you who have given me valuable support and assistance.
I am really stunned by the progress made over the last decades in China-New Zealand relations. I can still recall in my first visit to New Zealand back in 2000, I had to transit from elsewhere in the region, because there was no direct direct flight from China to New Zealand. The scale of two-way trade and people-to-people exchanges were relatively small at that time. Now, there are 36 direct flights every week connecting our two countries with up to 80 direct flights in peak seasons. Last year, our bilateral trade volume hit a record high of $26.1 billion. The number of Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand was 410,000. The number of sister provinces and sister cities between our two countries has reached 35. That lists China as New Zealand’s second largest trading partner, second largest source of tourists, the largest export market and the largest source of international students. More and more New Zealand products, such as butter, milk, honey, lamb, avocado and kiwi fruit, appear in Chinese market and get the favor of Chinese consumers.
China and New Zealand enjoy an impressive and proud list of ‘firsts’ in China’s relations with developed countries. To name a few, New Zealand is the first developed country to conclude bilateral negotiations on China’s WTO accession, the first to recognize China’s full market economy status, the first to sign and implement a bilateral FTA with China, the first to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member, the first to hold a nationwide Chinese Language Week, the first country to announce the launch of negotiations to upgrade bilateral FTA.
Our relations have deepened by the frequent high level exchanges between our leaders. In November 2014, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to New Zealand, during which China and New Zealand fostered Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. In March last year, Premier Li Keqiang paid an official visit to New Zealand, during which China and New Zealand signed Memorandum of Arrangement on Strengthening Cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.
Since the Labor-led Government was in place last year, leaders of our two countries have stayed in close touch through different channels. President Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had good interactions and meetings with Prime Minister Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Peters, during the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines. The leaders from both sides committed to further strengthening our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We appreciate the positive remarks by Prime Minister Ardern and other leaders in developing relations with China.
Our relations have also broadened by working together to address global and regional issues. Both New Zealand and China are beneficiaries and staunch supporters of the current international system underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Both countries supports trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and safeguards the multilateral trade system. Both countries advocates to strengthen collaboration for the sake of peace, stability and common prosperity, especially in the fields of climate change, global economic governance, regional security and non-proliferation.
These achievements in China-New Zealand relations do not come out of nowhere. They synchronize China’s Reform and Opening up, as well as China’s active engagement with the rest of the world.
Thanks to the initiative of Mr. Deng Xiaoping, China started its historical historic journey of reform and opening-up in 1978. Since then, we champion independence and self-reliance while embracing openness and win-win cooperation. We uphold the socialist system while sticking to the direction of reform to develop a socialist market economy, thus blazing a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We have participated in multilateral trade system and encouraged the evolution of the global governance, thus making great contributions to global peace and development.
These endeavors have brought tremendous changes to China. China has become the second largest economy and the largest trading nation in the world, and is serving as the essential driving force for the world economy, contributing over 30 % to the growth of global economy. Last October, the 19th Party Congress ushered socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new era and drew a blueprint for China’s future development.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening up. As put in his keynote speech at Boao Forum for Asia two weeks ago, President Xi Jinping summarized the experience and achievements of China’s Reform and Opening up over the past four decades, reaffirmed that China will continue to unswervingly follow its own path, adhere to its fundamental national policy of opening-up and pursue development with its door wide open. China’s door of opening-up will not be closed and will only open even wider. This is a strategic decision made by China based on its need for development as well as a concrete action taken by China to move economic globalization forward in a way that benefits people across the world.
China will stay as determined as ever to build world peace, contribute to global prosperity and uphold the international order. And China will stick to the path of peaceful development, actively pursue global partnerships, firmly support multilateralism, and take an active part in reforming the global governance system.
China’s further reform and opening-up provide enormous opportunities for China-New Zealand relations. China is willing to work more closely with New Zealand to turn the consensus of our leaders into concrete actions, by enhancing political mutual trust, expanding mutually beneficial cooperation, striving to realize the $30 billion goal for two-way trade by 2020, advancing cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, and strengthening people-to-people exchanges. China stands ready to join hands with New Zealand to safeguard the authority of the international system, to foster an open global economy, and to build a community of shared future for mankind. We believe that through our concerted efforts, we will bring more benefits to the two peoples, and make even bigger contribution to the peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.
It is a privilege and an honor for me to serve as Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand. I will do my utmost to carry out this very important duty. With the support and help from all of you, I’m fully confident that we will usher China-New Zealand relationship in to a new era.