PM leads large delegation to visit China

  • John Key
Prime Minister

Prime Minister John Key will lead a high-level business mission and cultural delegation on an official visit to China next week to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 5th anniversary of the China New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Mr Key will meet with the new President of China, Xi Jinping, at the Bo’ao Forum on 7 April, which is the fifth anniversary of the signing of the FTA – still China’s only such agreement with a developed country.

New Zealand exports to China have more than tripled since the signing of the FTA and trade has grown for both partners. Last year, New Zealand exports to China totalled $6.9 billion, which is up 16.6 per cent on the previous year.

“China is now New Zealand’s second largest and fastest growing major trading and tourism partner. It is also our largest education market for foreign students,” Mr Key says.

“Last year, nearly 200,000 Chinese visitors came to New Zealand, up 35 per cent on the previous year, and they spent around $651 million in New Zealand.

“Last Friday, figures released by Tourism New Zealand showed Chinese visitors numbers for the month of February were up by more than 100 per cent on the previous year, making it the biggest ever February for international arrivals.

“New Zealand’s post-FTA trade and investment growth with China has helped to lessen the impact on New Zealand from the recent global financial crisis,” says Mr Key.

In addition to meeting President Xi, Mr Key will be officially welcomed by China’s new Premier Li Keqiang at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People and will meet senior regional and city leaders in the major centres of Guangzhou and Shanghai. 

He will also speak to the inaugural New Zealand-China Partnership Forum, co-chaired by the New Zealand China Council and Chinese thinktank the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE).

In Beijing, the delegation will formally receive a Māori feather cloak (kahu huruhuru), which was given to Chairman Mao Zedong in 1957. It will be temporarily loaned to Te Papa for display later this year.

Mr Key will address students at Peking University, one of China’s premier educational institutions and the host of the New Zealand Studies Centre in China.

The visit is an opportunity to support New Zealand companies in China through business support activities and major tourism and education promotional events being held in the three Chinese cities the delegation will visit – Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

Mr Key will be accompanied by one of the largest ever delegations to travel offshore from New Zealand with a Prime Minister.

Mr Key will depart New Zealand at midnight on 5 April. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully will also travel to the Bo’ao Forum.  Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Trade Minister Tim Groser and Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples will accompany the business mission delegation in China. Mr Key will return to New Zealand by Royal New Zealand Air Force 757 on 13 April.

It is the Prime Minister’s third trip to China since he became Prime Minister.