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China Premier Li to meet New Zealand business leaders amid trade boost

By Thomson Reuters Jun 13, 2024 | 8:18 PM

By Alasdair Pal

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Chinese Premier Li Qiang will meet New Zealand business leaders on Friday on the second day of a regional tour that also takes in neighbouring Australia and signals a warming in ties between the Pacific nations and their biggest trading partner.

New Zealand and China on Thursday signed bilateral agreements on trade and climate during Li’s trip, the highest level Chinese visit to New Zealand in seven years.

Beijing sees itself as a key part of New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s plan to boost exports.

“We agreed that it is important to expand cooperation on trade and investment,” Li said on Thursday.

“China is ready to be part of New Zealand’s endeavour to double the value of exports in next decade.”

But Luxon is also attempting to balance that with a more assertive stance on human rights and security, with both topics raised in a meeting with Li, Luxon said on Thursday.

Previously a more moderate voice on China, New Zealand’s relationship with China has 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.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Sydney; Editing by Michael Perry)