It is good to see that there is a substantial business delegation accompanying Chris Hipkins to China, and that it is aimed at seeking to diversify into a wider range of issues. As China’s ambassador Wang Xiaolong noted in the Herald yesterday, there are significant opportunities for New Zealand on offer.
The Ambassador writes:
The practical cooperation (between China and New Zealand) has brought about high-quality products and services, thus creating tremendous income, revenue, and job opportunities. Currently, the two sides are exploring the opportunities of cooperation in such areas as climate change, clean energy, E-Vehicle, resilient infrastructure, new technology, and health care. The visit of Prime Minister Hipkins will surely help to create new growth points for the bilateral practical cooperation and boost high-quality development of both countries.
One can only hope that those opportunities are grasped, not to say clutched, with both hands. McKinsey Global Institute reports:
China’s rapidly expanding consumer market—confident, gradually richer, increasingly sophisticated, and willing to experiment—offers a strong link between China and the world. It is not only the prime engine for economic growth but is a huge opportunity for international businesses. By 2030, 58 percent of Chinese households are likely to be in the mass-affluent category or above (defined as household disposable income being 18,000 renminbi or more a month), surpassing today’s South Korean share of 55 percent. The spending profile of urban Chinese consumers is converging with that of their counterparts in cities around the world.
Building good relationships is important, not to say crucial. For the Chinese, as the Ambassador notes, personal and human relations are in many ways the most important.
People-to-people friendship serves as a solid foundation for the bilateral relations. The friendship between the two peoples dates far back in history. The bilateral relations originates in and serve the two peoples. The first Chinese set their foot on Aotearoa soil as early as more than 180 years ago. Since then, generations of Chinese immigrants, with their diligence, perseverance, and wisdom, have made their share of contributions to New Zealand’s economic and social development, and thus becoming an integral part of the country’s multi-ethnic and multicultural landscape. Numerous Chinese visitors and students coming to New Zealand for tour or study have served as yet another important bridge for friendship, understanding and cooperation.
The Chinese people will always remember Rewi Alley and Kathleen Hall among the numerous Kiwis who have made remarkable contribution to the revolution and construction of China. The Chinese people cherish the friendship with Kiwi people. The visit of Prime Minister Hipkins will surely inspire increased interest in New Zealand and enhance the appeal of the National Branding of New Zealand .
Rewi Alley’s story in many ways symbolises the different ways China and New Zealand view country-to-country relationships. Alley came from Springfield in North Canterbury but most New Zealanders would never have heard of him. In contrast:
Alley, born in 1897, remains one of China’s best-known and loved foreigners, setting up cooperatives and schools in the country. He is also the reason for Selwyn’s Sister City relationship with Shandan in northwest China. He spent many years in China, working first in the fire brigade and then as a factory inspector in Shanghai where he witnessed child labour and became concerned about the plight of young children working in factories. Rewi would go on to establish the Shandan Bailie School, which is now a large vocational college.
Alley came to China to give practical help when China was poor. He was a doer; the Baillie school motto was “gung ho.” Chinese have long memories and take a long view of history. It is partly, but significantly, because of his memory and his contribution that China is ready with the offer of friendship to New Zealand now. Far too much of the discourse in our media about our relationship with China is impersonal and ideological, driven by the so-called “security” lobby, with its endless repetition of Five Eyes talking points.
There will be many gifts for New Zealand on offer in China with the visit of the Prime Minister and this delegation. They will be genuine. One hopes that offers will be taken up and that no-one will be looking at them askance.