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China’s Premier Li lands in New Zealand for talks with prime minister

By Thomson Reuters Jun 12, 2024 | 6:17 PM

By Lucy Craymer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – China’s Premier Li Qiang landed in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington on Thursday ahead of three days of meetings and events there and in the country’s largest city, Auckland, the highest level Chinese visit in seven years.

The Chinese Embassy in Wellington confirmed Li had arrived on Thursday morning to start his visit.

Once a moderate voice on China, New Zealand’s relationship with China has markedly changed since the last time a Chinese premier visited in 2017. New Zealand has toughened its stance this year calling out Beijing for hacking the country’s parliament and noting the growing threat China poses to security in the Pacific.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said Li’s visit was an opportunity for businesses to strike deals, and there were “massive areas of cooperation with China, particularly in the areas of trade, energy, climate change”.

Differences would also be discussed, he added. Luxon said he expected some announcements to be made over the next two days.

Chinese-New Zealanders gathered at a central city hotel to greet the Premier holding banners supporting China’s relationship with New Zealand and waving Chinese flags and beating drums. Others held banners protesting China’s treatment of its citizens.

“I’m just very excited to be here,” said Ling Wang, who had travelled two hours from city Palmerston North to greet the Premier, having made the same trip in 2017 when Premier Li Keqiang visited.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Sonali Paul)