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China's Vice President visits New Zealand

Published: 11:57AM Thursday June 17, 2010 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

China sheltered New Zealand from the worst impacts of the recession, its Vice President Xi Jinping was told today.

Xi is in New Zealand for a three-day visit, along with more than 100 senior business leaders.

Arriving in Auckland this morning Xi was given a Maori welcome before a lunch where Trade Minister Tim Groser talked about the importance of China to New Zealand, and how it had buffered New Zealand during recent difficult financial times.

He focussed on the value of free trade agreement (FTA) between the countries. China is now New Zealand's second-largest trading partner, behind Australia, and it was taking more non-dairy New Zealand exports than before.

"An FTA (free trade agreement) is not a 'silver bullet' for all trading problems. Issues will still arise, but what it does provide us is access to the Chinese bureaucracy and an understanding of each other that we did not have before," Groser said.

"Most importantly, the FTA is a platform not only for our trade and economic relationship but for our broader bilateral relationship.  It's a relationship that has been described by you yourself, Mr vice president, as a model relationship."

Xi was also to visit Fisher and Paykel, part-owned by Chinese company Haier, before meeting Prime Minister John Key for dinner.

Meanwhile, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman urged the Overseas Investment Office not to buckle to any pressure which may arise from the visit over the sale of Crafar Farms to Hong Kong-based company Natural Dairy (NZ).

"The visit of vice president Xi Jinping, along with 100 senior Chinese business leaders should not have any impact on decisions relating to foreign investment from China and Hong Kong," Dr Norman said in a statement.

"New Zealand risks losing control of its economic sovereignty if we lose ownership of large chunks of our primary producing capacity to foreign investors."