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July 13, 2017

 The NZ China Council is a proud sponsor of the inaugural Sister City Youth Leadership Summit underway in Auckland this week. 

Around 30 Chinese secondary school students from Qingdao, Hangzhou and Guangzhou are joining with New Zealand students from Auckland, Tauranga and Christchurch to think and learn about global leadership in the 21st century. 

Executive Director Stephen Jacobi spoke to the group about the opportunities and challenges in the NZ/China relationship.  Further information about the Summit can be found at http://globalengagement.ac.nz/study-abroad-tours/introduction/youth-leadership-summit/

Stephen’s remarks are below:



12 JULY 2017





你们好, 欢迎来到新西兰

NiMen Hao, HuanYing LaiDao XinXiLan !

It is a pleasure for me to be with you today and to join in welcoming our Chinese visitors to Auckland.

Nau mai, haere mai ki Aotearoa !  Tenei te mihi nui ki a koutou katoa !

The New Zealand China Council is pleased to sponsor this inaugural Youth Leadership Summit which brings together the next generation of leaders and builds relationship and friendship across the miles that separate our two countries.

China is an ancient country with a large population.  New Zealand is a young country with a small population.

But both of us are working more closely together than ever before.  China is already one of New Zealand’s top trade partners.  More Chinese tourists are visiting New Zealand.  And more New Zealanders want to learn about China, its language and culture.

To our young Chinese friends, congratulations on being chosen to come to New Zealand and thank you for your interest in our country.

You have an important role to play while in New Zealand.

You will be cultural Ambassadors for your great country.

And you have the knowledge and the skills to help New Zealanders connect with their Chinese friends.

I hope you will take the opportunity to teach your host families some Chinese language,

You know, only around two percent of New Zealand school students learn Chinese.

But China takes 20 percent of our exports. 

Just imagine if these numbers matched! 

The NZ China Council is certainly clear that if we want to extract the full value from our expanding relationship with China, we need more Mandarin speakers. 

To the New Zealand students with us today, congratulations on being selected and for making an important choice – to reach out to the world around you and to think about the part that you can play in building our country’s future.

New Zealand lives by trade and exchange with the rest of the world.

We cannot possible eat all the food we produce and we can’t make all the things we need for everyday life – consumer goods, electronics, cars.

Today our partners in China and other parts of the world supply us with these products, just as we supply to them New Zealand milk, meat, fruit, seafood, wine, wood and a host of other products.

As I said a moment ago China is a top trade partner – either our largest or second largest depending on when you calculate the statistics.

China is above all a huge country – in fact there are no limits to the opportunities for us in China.

That’s not to say there aren’t barriers to be overcome but perhaps the greatest one is ourselves.

Are we really ready to take advantage of the opportunities on offer?

Do we have the skills, the knowledge, the expertise that will enable us to build the right connections with Chinese partners?

I have already mentioned the importance of learning Chinese.

I am a learner myself – I am lucky to have a tutor come to my office every week.

One of my favourite authors, John Le Carre, said “learning a language is an act of friendship”

An ancient Chinese proverb says “to learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world”  学一门语言,就是多一个观察世界的窗户。(xué yì mén yǔyán, jiù shì duō yí ge guānchá shìjiè de chuānghu.)

I say this to both our Chinese and New Zealand students – as the world becomes more closely connected and integrated, the future will belong to those who understand how to cross cultural barriers.

The time is now to prepare yourselves for that future – and this Summit is an important part of doing just that.

There is another saying you may have heard – think global, act local.

Today I am challenging you to think global and act global.

Lastly once again to our Chinese friends, I hope you will enjoy your time in New Zealand.

We have a beautiful country, with unmatched scenery and friendly, open-hearted people.

Please take the time to learn more about our country so you can be our cultural Ambassadors when you return home!

Thank you for the important work you will be doing and our thanks and congratulations also to Jan Fitzgerald and colleagues at the Institute of Global Engagement New Zealand and Shinyway Education for all the work that has been done to make this valuable cultural and educational exchange possible.

Xie xie.

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