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New Zealand signs agreements on trade and green tech with China

NEW Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins signed a range of agreements on trade, agriculture, forestry, education and science after meeting his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang yesterday.

China pledged co-operation on green and electric vehicle technology, in which it is the world leader, while New Zealand was keen to increase exports.

The businesslike session followed Tuesday’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who stressed the importance of maintaining cultural exchanges and said China-New Zealand relations were a model for its relationships with other developed countries. 

New Zealand was the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement with China — in 2008 — and unlike Australia has resisted enrolment into the US’s new cold war. 

Ahead of his trip to China this week, Mr Hipkins said he disagreed with US President Joe Biden’s description of Mr Xi as a “dictator,” adding that China’s system of government was a matter for the Chinese rather than foreign powers.

In 2021 it criticised a proposed expansion of the remit of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing bloc of Anglo-Saxon powers (the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to cover joint foreign policy statements, saying it wished to decide its own approach to China, and it pointedly refused to join the other members of the group in attacking China’s handling of Hong Kong separatists or the probe into the origins of the Covid pandemic. 

New Zealand, like China, long followed a “zero-Covid” strategy aimed at eliminating the virus, and Mr Hipkins said this week China would be key to the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic. 

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