• Jim Bolger
Foreign Affairs and Trade


I am honoured to be able to take part in this ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and China.

May I express my appreciation to you, Mr President, and to the Chinese Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, for arranging this occasion.

I look forward to a similarly fitting celebration of the Anniversary in New Zealand next month, when we will be honoured to host the Chairman of the Chinese Peoples' Political Consultative Committee, Mr Li Ruihuan.

Many people in New Zealand know the Chinese proverb, 'a journey of 100 li begins with a single step'.

The communiqu? of mutual recognition, signed 25 years ago, marked the beginning of a journey for our two countries.

The journey is one characterised by cooperation and increased mutual understanding.

It is a journey that still continues.

The relationship between China and New Zealand did not suddenly spring into existence 25 years ago.

Remarkably, for a country that is as new as New Zealand, it is more than 200 years since our first exports reached Guangzhou.

It is almost 150 years since the first Chinese people travelled to New Zealand.

They came to seek gold and I am happy to report that they found it.

Many stayed to seek a new life in our new land.

In so doing, they gave New Zealand skills and energy from which we have benefited greatly.

These early settlers have been joined in more recent years by many new immigrants.

I wish today to express the deep appreciation of the Government of New Zealand for the contribution which New Zealanders of Chinese descent have made, and continue to make, to our growth and development.

People to people contacts have continued since those early days.

I would like to acknowledge the contribution which today's hosts, the Chinese Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, has played in that process.

I also want to recognise one individual with whom the Association had a long-standing relationship.

In less than a week, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rewi Alley, a New Zealander who gave 60 years of his life in service to the Chinese people.

Rewi Alley's legacy continues in his writing, in the work of his former students and in the renewed interest in initiatives such as the Gung Ho movement.

New Zealand wants to recognise Alley's contribution.

I am pleased to announce our decision to make available a grant of NZ$100,000 to equip an agricultural extension centre at Gansu University.

Gansu Province was the base for much of Rewi Alley's innovative educational work.

We are pleased that the training centre is to be named after him.

As our two governments have dealt with each other over the last 25 years, we have found much in common, and we have achieved a better understanding of the areas where we might differ.

A firmly-based relationship has opened the doors to an expansion of trade.

China is now New Zealand's fifth largest market.

Our relationship has also facilitated links in other areas: in science and technology, in education, in sport and cultural activities.

We have exchanged not just goods but services, human resources and capital.

The strength of the relationship owes much to the complementary way our two countries have each developed over the past quarter century.

New Zealand's economy has undergone a process of vigorous reform which has left us better placed to achieve domestic prosperity, and better equipped to seek external linkages.

Over the same period, we have welcomed the process of economic reform and opening to the outside world which has been undertaken in China.

We recognise the gains made in the prosperity of China's own people.

At the same time your reforms have opened new possibilities for us to work together in constructive and cooperative ways.

We now stand at the threshold of a time of great promise.

Great promise for China, as it assumes its place as a regional and global leader.

Great promise for New Zealand, as we step out to forge new links of common interest that will sustain and develop our relations into the 21st century.

We look forward to building our cooperation in global institutions such as the United Nations.

We firmly support China's early accession to the World Trade Organisation.

New Zealand was the first country to commence and conclude bilateral WTO accession talks with China.

We hope that China, one of the world's major trading powers, will in the near future enter and play a full part in the new world trade body.

Within the Asia-Pacific region, the twin institutions of APEC and the Asean Regional Forum are providing a framework for our common interests.

I believe that the habit of consultation, in order to achieve regional solutions to regional problems, must be sustained and expanded.

While New Zealand is small, we are a serious, and I believe, a constructive neighbour and friend of China.

We wish to be partners with China, maintaining stability and enhancing prosperity in our part of the world.

At that point, the wheel has come full circle.

For what underpins the bilateral relationship, and the progressively broader linkages that grow out from it, is the friendship of our people.

Without people-to-people contact, and the attitudes and understanding that derive from it, governments strive in vain.

It is no coincidence that the Chinese Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries is hosting today's celebration of the warm relationship between our two countries.

It is a coincidence, but a happy one, that the occasion falls so close to the Rewi Alley anniversary.

Rewi Alley made known to the West the expression Gung Ho - working together.

It is only by working together that we will achieve the fullest potential in our bilateral relationship.

We should aim to do no less.