Government Should Maintain Good Bilateral Relationship, Not the Other Way Round

By Wang Zhijian, Chinese Consul General in Christchurch 

In recent years, we’ve seen many discussions concerning New Zealand exporters’ “over-reliance” on Chinese market and heard some governmental calls for diversification of New Zealand trade. These are based on a worrisome hypothesis that China-New Zealand relations will surely deteriorate sometime in future. Perhaps we should look into this issue from a different perspective and try to adopt an approach that best serves our two people’s interests.

No one understands the importance of market diversification better than exporters. While there are some other big markets apart from China, many trade barriers also await New Zealand exporters. Besides, Chinese demand remains strong for goods from all around the world and the Chinese market still provides foreign exporters best returns. These factors give the best explanation why New Zealand exports to China have in fact increased despite calls for diversification. It’s quite natural for New Zealand exporters to see the Chinese market as their priority.

For New Zealand, there is no need to worry about China’s so-called “economic retaliation”. China always treats others on a reciprocal basis. China adheres to the five principles of peaceful coexistence. It never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs or takes the lead in engaging in unfriendly actions including economic restrictions against other countries. However, the US, Australia and some other countries have taken provocative measures to undermine China’s national interests, including spreading unfounded rumors about the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, interfering in China’s internal affairs on Xinjiang and Hong Kong-related issues, using hostage diplomacy to crack down on Chinese tech companies such as Huawei, sanctioning Chinese officials and imposing high tariffs on Chinese products. It is under such circumstances that China has had to respond, only in a defensive manner.

China is committed to building a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice and win-win cooperation. If differences exist, China prefers to sit down and talk with other countries. However, China will not accept other countries’ act of finger-pointing and name-calling, not to mention unilateral intimidation or even sanctions. China believes that only by mutual respect and abiding by international law and the UN Charter can stable and justified international rules and order be established. Being always a defender of the international order, China is committed to maintaining mutual benefit and equality in developing relations with other countries.

Recently, New Zealand has followed the lead of some countries, including the United States, in openly criticizing China over cyber attack and some other issues. These accusations are not supported by facts and run the risk of unconstructively affecting the trust and friendship between our two peoples. China and New Zealand do have differences in political systems, cultures and values. China sometimes also has different views on New Zealand internal affairs. However, in the spirit of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs, China has never cast the first stone. Instead of making public accusations through ‘microphone diplomacy’, China prefers sitting down to discuss relevant issues through mechanisms like our bilateral human rights dialogue.

A major task for a government is to take good care of bilateral friendly relations and create a favorable international environment for its companies to explore international markets. Historically, trade relations between countries including New Zealand are not defined by values but by business and political relations. After all, no customers will buy goods from vendors bullying them. The same goes for China-New Zealand relations. If both governments take good care of our friendly relations, bilateral economic and trade relations will naturally develop in a good direction and trade diversification will be something well under control for New Zealand.