State Banquet For HIS EXCELLENCY MR JIANG ZEMIN PRESIDENT OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA AND MADAME WANG YEPING

  • Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

Hotel Grand Chancellor, Christchurch

President Jiang, Madame Wang Yeping

I am delighted this evening to welcome you, President Jiang and Madame Wang, to Christchurch, and to this official dinner in your honour.

A few weeks back, when Burton and I visited Beijing, you honoured us by hosting a private dinner in the Great Hall of the People.

Tonight, it is a real pleasure to return that hospitality.

China and New Zealand are old friends.

I want to pay tribute to all those adventurous Chinese people and New Zealanders who from the 1800s had the courage and curiosity to travel to each other's land to live.

Seeking trade, or gold.

Wanting to teach or to learn.

They have given us firm foundation stones of our relationship.

One New Zealander ? and a son of Canterbury - who made an outstanding contribution - was Rewi Alley.

Rewi is well remembered in China. How happy he would have been, to see the President of China visit his home town.

But, as should always be the case between friends, we are continually learning new things about each other and making new connections.

Your visit ? the first ever to New Zealand by a President of China - is a new and historic occasion in the relationship between our countries.

This last week has been a busy time for both of us.

Together with other APEC Leaders we have set a course for the growth and prosperity of our region.

We have also been pleased to offer a venue for your meetings with other Leaders, including your Summit discussions with President Clinton.

And now, it is a special honour to welcome you to Christchurch.

Christchurch and the province of Canterbury typify the new directions emerging in the relationship between New Zealand and China.

In research, agriculture, forestry, and tourism, the people of Canterbury are enthusiastic champions for building new and deeper links with China.

In the high technology sphere, Christchurch is home to a number of companies who have already established a strong presence in China.

The links between our peoples are about to expand rapidly.

We look forward to receiving more Chinese visitors to New Zealand under the new Approved Tourism Destination status arrangements.

More New Zealanders are visiting China, both to see your historic wonders, and to sample the diversity of modern China.

* We want to see more secondary and university level students from China. Your students are warmly welcome here.

Along with their education, we hope they will carry home friendships, happy memories and a lifelong interest in building further links between New Zealand and China.

New Zealand is a small country, with a large heart.

As an independently-minded global trader, we look to build strong relations with countries that matter to us.

And China most certainly matters.

Through such groupings as APEC and, we hope soon, the World Trade Organisation, New Zealand and China are partners in the pursuit of development, stability and growth.

Our relationships are founded on firm foundations ? including New Zealand's commitment to a One China policy.

On such foundations we each have the confidence to value our diversity. We do not always have identical views, but we always work together, listen and talk frankly to each other.

And ? above all - we enjoy each other's company, as good friends should.

I would now like to propose a toast to future relations between the People's Republic of China and New Zealand as we enter the 21st century:

To China and New Zealand - good neighbours and good friends.