HE Ambassador Wang Xiaolong Attends the Lunch to Celebrate 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations between New Zealand and China and Makes an Address

2022-12-21 05:53

On 9 December, Ambassador Wang Xiaolong was invited to a lunch jointly hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the New Zealand China Council, and the New Zealand China Trade Association to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New Zealand-China diplomatic relations. HE Mr John McKinnon, Chair of NZCC and former Ambassador to China, moderated the lunch. The Right Honourable Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, HE Ambassador Wang Xiaolong, Mr Martin Thomson, Chairman of NZCTA, and Sir Richard Taylor, co-founder of the Weta Workshop, delivered speeches at the event. Chinese Consul General to Auckland Mr Chen Shijie, Chinese Consul General to Christchurch Ms He Ying, former Prime Ministers Sir John Key and Dame Jenny Shipley, and nearly 200 other guests, including Honourable Ministers, MPs, Mayors, and representatives from the business community, academia, and media, attended the lunch.

(HE Amb Wang Xiaolong in a group photo with Rt Hon Prime Minister Ardern ,HE John McKinnon, MP Naisi Chen)

In her speech, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Ardern said that three themes were chosen by New Zealand to mark our anniversary: tangata/people, aorangi/planet, and tōnuitanga/prosperity. People are the foundation of our relationship. While we are here to celebrate the 50th anniversary, our people connections extend well beyond that. New Zealand society today is greatly enriched by our diverse New Zealand Chinese communities. She was pleased to see “environment” and “Aorangi – Planet” highlighted during this 50th anniversary. Amongst other activities, our climate change Ministers recently held their annual dialogue, and we now have an environment chapter in our upgraded Free Trade Agreement. This year New Zealand and China held an inaugural dialogue on how to protect the migratory shorebirds between our two countries. The relationship with China makes an important contribution to New Zealand’s prosperity. Our trade and economic links have proven resilient, despite the challenges of COVID. We saw the fruits in the Upgrade of our Free Trade Agreement, which was finalised and brought into force this year. 

Prime Minister Ardern mentioned that this year had seen good Ministerial engagement between New Zealand and China – be it face-to-face or virtual – in the areas of foreign affairs, trade, education, and science, amongst others. Her meeting with President Xi Jinping last month helped reinforce to her again the real value of in-person engagement. She hoped to return to China in person with a trade mission early next year. 

Prime Minister Ardern stated that the relationship with China is complex and evolving. Along with the long history of our engagement and cooperation, the New Zealand side continues to recognise that there are areas where China and New Zealand disagree. Where our interests or world view differ. On those areas, New Zealand is willing to engage but will also always advocate for New Zealand’s interests and values and speak out when needed, in a predictable, consistent, and respectful way. A 50-year relationship is a significant achievement to be celebrated. Let’s celebrate this important anniversary across our two nations. May our future be one of continued good fortune, the safekeeping of our people, our planet and our prosperity.

In his speech, Ambassador Wang Xiaolong expressed that 50 years is not a long episode in history but are truly golden times worth celebrating for relationships between countries. In 1972, our leaders made the visionary and strategic decision to establish diplomatic ties. Through the joint efforts across generations, our bilateral relations have made tremendous progress, bringing enormous benefits to our peoples and making at the same time significant contributions to global and regional peace, stability, and prosperity.

Ambassador Wang used four keywords to recapitulate the extraordinary journey the two sides have taken together. 

The first word is Direction. Successive leaders of both countries have made strategic guidance to keep the relationship on the right track. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister Ardern on the margins of APEC. The two leaders reached important consensus which set the keynote and, above all, the direction for deepening our relations. 

The second word is Cooperation. Defying the changes in the global landscape, mutually beneficial cooperation has always been our common choice and the mainstream of our relationship.

The third word is Friendship. Our people-to-people links have a long history and have helped build bridges of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

The fourth word is Enterprise. Always ready to break new ground, the two sides have created many “firsts” in our relationship, over and above our differences in political systems, historical and cultural backgrounds, and stages of development.

Ambassador Wang indicated that both countries held a series of celebrations this year, with People, Planet, and Prosperity as the organizing theme for the New Zealand side. Indeed, our two countries do share a lot in common in these three areas. Amid the increasing uncertainties in today’s world, the cooperation between China and New Zealand can create more certainties for each other and the whole world. Looking ahead, the two sides should strive to go with the trend of the times, implement the consensus reached by our leaders, and above all, meet the aspirations of the two peoples. We need to enhance mutual trust, expand our practical cooperation, deepen our people-to-people friendship, strengthen cooperation on global and regional affairs, and constructively manage and transcend our differences to advance our comprehensive strategic partnership towards an even brighter future.

In their respective remarks, HE Mr John McKinnon, Mr Martin Thomson, and Sir Richard Taylor acknowledged the remarkable achievements of the 50 years of New Zealand-China relations and illustrated with statistics and examples the significant development of our economic and trade cooperation. They anticipated the new impetus added by the resumption of people-to-people exchanges after the pandemic and hoped to bring more young people to become part of the relations, who can contribute to the next 50 years of cooperation between the two sides, building on the experience we have learned from the past 50 years. 

(HE John McKinnon, Chair of NZCC moderates the lunch)

(Mr Martin Thomson, Chairman of NZCTA, delivers his remarks)

(Sir Richard Taylor,co-founder of the Weta Workshop, delivers his remarks)

With enthusiasm and joyfulness, guests from all walks of life in New Zealand exchanged views with each other, appreciated the fruitful results of the relationship, and expressed their confidence and expectation for the future development of the bilateral relations.