Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Wellington on March 26 for an official visit to New Zealand, the first to the Oceanian country since he took office as Chinese Premier in 2013.
During the four-day stay, Premier Li is scheduled to hold talks with his New Zealand’s counterpart Bill English and meet Governor-General Patsy Reddy and other officials. He will also pay a visit to Auckland, the largest city of the country, for a number of business and culture exchange activities.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-New Zealand relations. Premier Li’s visit, the first by a Chinese Premier in 11 years, is widely expected to further strengthen bilateral ties.
The two sides will expand cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture and husbandry, technological innovation, education, culture, tourism and civil aviation, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told a press briefing in Beijing on March 21.
The visit will send a positive signal that China and New Zealand are committed to trade and investment liberalization and regional peace and stability, Zheng said.
For his part, English expressed hopes for closer ties and cooperation between the two countries.
“The visit is an important opportunity to set the agenda for the next stage of our strong relationship and demonstrates our shared commitment to open trade and economic growth,” English said in a statement.
Bilateral trade between China and New Zealand has increased nearly threefold compared with 2008, when the two countries reached a free trade agreement. The first round of negotiations on upgrading the deal will be held in the first half of this year.
The upgrading will bring more opportunities for bilateral economic cooperation, and push the two sides to increase market openness and reach consensus on such areas as services, trade and e-commerce, Zheng said.
It is the second and final leg of Premier Li’s trip to Oceania. He was in Australia for a five-day visit during March 22-26.