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July 16, 2019



Dajia hao, tena koutou katoa

My thanks to Jan Fitzgerald and her colleagues at the Institute of Global Engagement New Zealand for the kind invitation to be with you in Christchurch today: it’s a pleasure for me to join you in welcoming our Chinese visitors to New Zealand.

I understand you come from all over China – from Baoding, Chengdu, Hebei, Qingdao,  Wuhan and Zhuhai.

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

HuanYing LaiDao XinXiLan !

Congratulations also to the New Zealand participants and thank you for the time and care you will take in ensuring our visitors have the best possible time.

I’m here with my colleague David Pine, representing the New Zealand China Council:  the Council is pleased to be associated once again with this Youth Leadership Summit, building relationship and friendship between young people across the miles that separate our two countries.

The New Zealand China Council brings together leaders from government, business and the wider community to build strength and resilience into New Zealand’s relationship with China.

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 New Zealand’s top trade partner.  More Chinese tourists and students are visiting New Zealand every year.  And more New Zealanders want to learn about China, its language and culture.

You, our Chinese friends, have an important role to play while in New Zealand.

You will be cultural Ambassadors for your great country.

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 over 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 people to speak Mandarin.

You New Zealand students with us have made an important choice by being here today – 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 possibly 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 with high quality, sustainably produced. New Zealand milk, meat, fruit, seafood, wine, wood and a host of other cool products as well as advanced education and great tourism experiences.

China is a huge country – I often say that 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 barriers are ones we place on ourselves.

Are we really ready to take advantage of the amazing educational, cultural and business opportunities on offer?

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

Can we build the relationship in a respectful way, acknowledging our obvious differences, not just in size but in culture, values and political systems and learn from each other along the way ?

Earlier this year we at the China Council invited a group of young leaders, just a little older than you, to spend a day with us talking about the future of the relationship.

This is what they had to say (play video).

As I said, the future of the relationship is in your hands and we need your input.

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

This is also a good time to think about how we can continue to develop the relationship.

New Zealand for example is very interested in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

We see it as a great way to build greater connectivity between China, New Zealand and other countries.

Just a few weeks ago we hosted a conference in Auckland about building what we call the Southern Link – how can we build a new conduit for trade, travel and tourism from China across New Zealand to countries in South America.

Here’s the video which opened our conference – play video.

This is the future which you young people from China and New Zealand have the chance to create – a future where countries once considered far apart are linked more closely together.

New Zealand has often been seen as a far-away place but with the Southern Link we can see ourselves as positioned strategically at the mid-point of a trade and travel route between two great continents, Asia and South America.

Let me say 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, open-minded people.

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

The future is in your hands ! Go build it !

Feichang ganxie.

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