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China's Trade Upgrade To Bring New Opportunities, Says Premier Ahead Of Australia Trip

14.06.2024 17:12

Li Qiang addresses businesses, education event in Auckland as his 2 day trip to New Zealand concludes.

Upgrading China's economic structure "will bring new opportunities for global development," Prime Minister Li Qiang said Friday.

He addressed businesses in New Zealand, ahead of his trip to Australia, an important trade partner of Beijing in the region.

"China is pursuing modernization through high-quality development and various upgrades will bring new opportunities for global development," Li said in Auckland, according to his office.

It is the first visit since 2017 by a Chinese premier to New Zealand at a time when the bilateral volume has reached around $40 billion annually.

"Consumption upgrading will unleash new market demands, and there will be an increasing need for high-quality goods such as dairy and health products, as well as beef and lamb, from New Zealand," said Li.

Beijing is an important export destination for products from New Zealand.

Li noted the momentum of China's economic recovery since early this year and said it has "continued to consolidate and strengthen."

He said: "The long-term positive trend of the Chinese economy will not change."

Li held bilateral talks with his Kiwi counterpart Christopher Luxon on Thursday.

The two sides discussed bilateral, regional, and international issues, including the South China Sea, AUKUS -- a trilateral pact between the US, UK, and Australia -- and the Taiwan Strait.

Wellington is in discussions with AUKUS partners on the prospectus of joining the project.

"Education links are key to the New Zealand-China relationship to support both countries unlocking productivity and innovation potential," Luxon said, after attending the Future Thinking Education Forum.

Wellington also noted China's application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Support, protest, and alleged interference

Dozens of people had gathered outside Cordis Hotel in central Auckland to support and protest Li's trip to Auckland.

After holding a news conference with Luxon on Thursday in Wellington, the Chinese premier skipped a question regarding alleged interference in New Zealand by Beijing.

Early this year in March, Wellington had said it conveyed to Beijing its "concerns" regarding an alleged breach of its parliament by a Chinese "state-sponsored" group.

From Auckland, Li will fly to Adelaide in Australia, home to two Chinese pandas at the city's zoo.

Li will pay an official visit to Australia by Tuesday, the first such trip since 2017 when late Li Keqiang had visited Wellington and Canberra.

Beijing is expected to extend the loan of two Chinese pandas at the city's zoo, before Li and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese will sit for high-level talks in Canberra.

Also, tariffs on Australian imports and AUKUS would be among the top issues on the table to discuss between the two sides.

Under AUKUS, Canberra will get nuclear-powered submarines and China has been a fierce opponent of what Beijing calls nuclear proliferation of the region.

Li and Albanese are also expected to discuss rival military activities in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

The bilateral relations between Beijing and Canberra had spiraled down under the former administration of Scott Morrison, who angered China by seeking a probe into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canberra joining the AUKUS also impacted the bilateral ties.

Australian businesses suffered losses of at least $13 billion every year due to trade restrictions imposed by China.

However, the bilateral trade volume rose to $169.62 billion last year, surpassing the pre-pandemic level in 2019.

The Chinese premier will also visit the Australian city of Perth, from where he will fly to Malaysia on the last leg of the three-nation official tour. -

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