New Zealand PM Says She Will Meet President Xi in China
WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she will travel to China at the end of the week for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, amid concerns of strained relations between the countries.
Ardern said she would travel to Beijing on Sunday.
She first announced her plans to visit China last year but no final dates had been announced.
Ties with China have been tense under Ardern’s government which has openly raised concerns about Beijing’s growing influence in the South Pacific, and rejected Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s first local bid to build a 5G mobile network.
Opposition leaders have blamed Ardern and her government for the alleged deteriorating relations with China, and said that ties were at the worst ever.
Ardern has acknowledged there were complexities in the relationship with China, but dismissed concerns of a rift with New Zealand’s largest trading partner.
The prime minister said the trip had been trimmed down to a one-day visit in the wake of the mass shooting in Christchurch that killed 50 people.
“It was intended to be a longer visit, including a business delegation, but under the circumstances that just didn’t seem appropriate and I do want to acknowledge that our hosts, China, have been incredibly accommodating of those needs,” Ardern told a news conference.
Ardern, who will also meet Premier Li Keqiang during the trip, will return to New Zealand on Tuesday.
Talks would include discussions around an upgrade to the free trade agreement between the two countries as well as other issues, she said.
Last month, China postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch raising concerns of strained ties over China’s growing influence in the Pacific.
Last year, New Zealand issued a defence policy statement in which it said China’s rising influence in the South Pacific could undermine regional stability, and alluded to tension in the disputed South China Sea, sparking complaint from China.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, stated that China is the UAE’s leading trade partner in terms of non-oil commodities, accounting for 9.7 per cent of its total non-oil trade in 2018, valued at over $43 billion.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday $64 billion in deals were signed at a summit on his Belt and Road Initiative and more nations would join the global infrastructure programme as he sought to ease concerns over the colossal project.
Thousands stood in silence in a Christchurch park on Friday as the names of 50 people shot dead in two mosques were read out at a national memorial service, with speakers calling for the legacy of the tragedy to be a kinder, more tolerant New Zealand.
The guests were asked to undergo a COVID-19 tests, and to present the negative result of the test before entering the house.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, on Saturday said it carried out 77,640 additional COVID-19 tests in the country over the last 24 hours, using the latest testing methods.
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