New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday she hopes to lead a trade mission to China once border settings are changed to allow travel to her country's biggest trading partner as it emerges from the pandemic.
Ardern said she had expressed her hopes to visit to President Xi Jinping during talks last month on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok, which had been their first in-person meeting since 2018.
"I do hope to return to China in person when the settings allow, and I discussed with the president our ambition of taking a trade mission into China early next year, a plan that was welcomed by the president," Ardern told a meeting of the New Zealand-China Council in Auckland.
Ardern said New Zealand's trade and economic links with China have proven resilient, despite the challenges of Covid.
Delivering a speech marking 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Ardern said New Zealand's relationship with China was important but complex and evolving. She said "we continue to recognise that there are areas where China and New Zealand do not agree, where our interests or world view differ."
Ardern added that in those areas where Beijing and Auckland disagreed, her government remained willing to engage but would always advocate for New Zealand's interests and values, and speak out when needed. "We do this predictably, consistently and respectfully," she said. (Reuters)