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Ambassador Wu Xi's speech at the China Business Summit


E ngā mana,
E ngā reo,
E ngā rau rangatira mā,
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou kātoa,
Honourable Prime Minister Ardern,
Honourable Minister Parker,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It's a genuine honour to speak to you here at the China Business Summit. My heartfelt thanks to NZ INC and the Auckland Business Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to join you today.

Since last year's summit, the China-New Zealand relationship has continued to grow. And like all relationships, it has also experienced challenges. Thanks to the efforts of all people supporting China-New Zealand relations, and the integrity of our leaders, we've held the course and navigated uncharted waters together.

For me, one of the defining images that shows this is that of Chinese leaders and Prime Minister Ardern standing together in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The warmth and friendship evident in the image, seen by millions of Chinese and New Zealanders, speaks volumes about our shared determination to keep building positive forward momentum in the relationship.

During the Prime Minister's successful visit, our leaders agreed to strengthen the China-New Zealand Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, speed up negotiations to upgrade the bilateral Free Trade Agreement, provide a better operating environment for each other's companies, and deepen cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

We also signed four new agreements to cooperate on taxation, agriculture, finance and scientific research, and issued a statement between leaders of China and New Zealand on climate change. All of these provide us with clear strategic direction on which to work together practically and closely in new areas.

Many of you will know that Chinese people prefer to see things from a long-term perspective. This resonates well with the Maori proverb "without foresight or vision, the people will be lost."

In many ways, this proverb reflects the strengths of the China-New Zealand relationship, built on decades of forward thinking, pragmatic actions and bold ideas. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, we've taken great strides to cooperate on many fields, and have an impressive list of 'firsts' among China's relations with other developed countries.

In the fast and ever-evolving world we find ourselves in, however, we cannot be complacent in what we have achieved. We need to look ahead, step up our pace, seize new opportunities and take concrete actions to turn them into benefits for both countries.

The BRI represents a path toward these opportunities. Simply put, BRI is a framework for cooperation. Cooperation that makes a real difference in people's lives. Cooperation that generates high-quality development. Cooperation that builds global connectivity.
Last Month, Minister Parker joined 6000 guests from 150 countries and 92 international organisations in Beijing for the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. They heard President Xi Jinping outline his vision for enhancing Belt and Road cooperation and building consensus among countries and organisations to make the initiative positive and meaningful for all involved.

It would be hard to convey everything that was discussed at the Forum, so today I'd like to highlight four things:
First, our goal is to develop high-quality cooperation under BRI. These are meaningful words - we need to pursue open, green and clean cooperation; enhance high standard cooperation to improve people's lives and promote sustainable development; consult extensively, contribute jointly and share benefits with all.

Second, building connectivity at the global level involves physical infrastructure, but it is much more than that - from digital connectivity to institutional connectivity involving policies, rules and standards.

Third, BRI is already delivering concrete results. During the Forum, nearly 300 agreements covering government to government cooperation, ICT platforms, enterprises and more have been reached.

Fourth, the cooperation framework has been significantly improved and enhanced. While more activity is happening at the bilateral and trilateral level, over 20 mechanisms and dialogues at the multilateral level have been set up, covering specific fields like rail, ports, accounting and finance, customs, media and more.

These all point to cooperation under the framework of BRI becoming deeper and more constructive every day. President Xi has emphasised that while BRI is an idea of Chinese origin, its benefits will be shared by the world, including New Zealand.

New Zealand and BRI
So how can New Zealand play a role? I mentioned earlier BRI is a framework for cooperation. It's also cooperation that needs New Zealand's ideas, New Zealand's creativity, and New Zealand's energy.

After all, China and New Zealand are highly complementary in terms of our economies and skill sets. New Zealand's own development strategy can only benefit from the many natural points of cooperation that exist under the BRI.

Take aviation as one example. Direct flights between New Zealand and major Chinese cities have surged in recent years, bringing with them greater exchanges in people, capital and trade. We should see these as early results of better connectivity under the BRI, and think about how to extend these results into new areas of potential connectivity - into policy and trade, infrastructure, finance, people-to-people ties and others.

We can work together to push forward negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, make the most of the Bilateral Financial Dialogue, and explore new ideas like making New Zealand a hub for air and sea transportation between Asia and South America. We can leverage events like the Second China International Import Expo to promote more local Kiwi products to the Chinese market. We can find ways to further enhance exchanges and cooperation in education, culture and tourism.

New Zealand is a country of big, innovative ideas, and BRI is a framework for rich and untapped opportunities. That's why it's exciting to see the NZ government engaging in the initiative. Minister Parker's recent comments that BRI is a 'way to deepen New Zealand's relationship with China' point the way to future opportunities that all of us should be excited about.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples' Republic of China. During the last seven decades, the Chinese people, through our own cultural tradition, have worked to develop our country in a way that aligns with our specific conditions and interests.

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is a historical choice made by the Chinese people. Our goal is to create better standards of living, greater happiness for the Chinese people, and realize the great rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. At the same time, we work and advocate for a community with a shared future for mankind. We know the most fundamental precondition for this vision is peace and development - and this is why China will always commit to building global peace, contributing to global development, and upholding the international order.

The history of China-New Zealand relationship has proven that no matter how international or domestic situations change, mutual benefit is the nature of our cooperation,and mutual respect, the readiness to seek common ground while properly handle differences are the key to our success. We hope New Zealand will continue to respect the development path we have chosen, and view China's development and international role in a positive way. And we hope all Chinese enterprises operating in NZ be treated in a fair, transparent and unbiased way.

As Prime Minister Ardern noted in Beijing, "Our relationship is too long, too great in history and has a layer of depth to it. "In response, President Xi reiterated that China sees in New Zealand a sincere friend and co-operation partner. I heard he also mentioned our 'many firsts', and told the Prime Minister he would like to see more of them.

In closing, I encourage all of you here to keep this thought in mind throughout the summit today. In a room of so many business people, entrepreneurs, officials, academics and others dedicated to building China-New Zealand relations, the next 'first' may well be right in front of us.

Thank you.

Ambassador Wu Xi
6 May 2019