TALES FROM THE BELT AND ROAD
Executive Director Stephen Jacobi has recently returned from a two and a half week visit to six cities in China.
During the visit to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Nanning, Chengdu, Beijing and Shanghai Stephen met with NZ Government representatives, business people, Chinese officials and think tanks. “The enormous breadth and vitality of the NZ/China relationship was very evident during my visit, including in the newer centres of NZ representation such as Chengdu” said Stephen.
China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) was a particular focus for discussion. “BRI has enormous potential for New Zealand if we can come up with ideas that can contribute to this ambitious vision” said Stephen.
During the visit China released on 20 June further information on a “Vision for Maritime Co-operation under the BRI” which has direct application to New Zealand as a staging point on the maritime road that leads onward to Latin America.
“New Zealand’s interests in BRI are likely to lie more in the area of connectivity rather than infrastructure. That’s not to say there isn’t potential for co-operation with China on NZ’s infrastructure build, but to affirm a broader and potentially more valuable area of co-operation around the ease with which goods, services, capital and people move along the belt and road” .
Stephen said the NZ China Council was advancing the development of a “strategic pathway” for NZ’s involvement in BRI which would identify some areas for practical projects especially in areas like trade and investment facilitation, supply chain connectivity, innovation and regulatory co-operation. “New Zealand has expertise to offer China and its other BRI partners in these areas and there was interest in this on the part of Chinese contacts”.
In Nanning Stephen met with the Vice Governor of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Huang Zhiyong, who visited New Zealand last year. Guangxi, which borders Viet Nam, has been designated as China’s gateway to ASEAN and is southwest China’s most convenient port of access to the Pacific.