Since New Zealand and China established diplomatic relations in December 1972, the relationship has developed rapidly, particularly in recent years.
The New Zealand Government has regular high level meetings with the Chinese leadership, either bilaterally or at regional gatherings. We regularly hold Foreign Ministry consultations, strategic dialogues, and economic and trade talks. There are formal bilateral dialogues on sanitary and phytosanitary issues, agriculture, dairy and forestry. There is also regular contact on a wide range of issues including defence, law and governance, human rights, education and tourism, multilateral trade, regional security, international fisheries and development assistance.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is committed to ensuring that our diplomats to China are trained in Chinese, with many undergoing full time intensive language training for up to two years. We are among a small number of countries to do so, providing us with a competitive edge.
New Zealand agencies represented in China
A number of New Zealand Government agencies are represented in China. They include MFAT, NZTE, MBIE Immigration, MBIE Science, MPI, Education NZ, Tourism NZ, NZ Police, NZ Customs.
The first Chinese immigrant to New Zealand is thought to have been Appo Hocton, who arrived in Nelson in 1842. The first large scale influx of Chinese to New Zealand occurred in the 1860s, initially for gold-mining.
Official contact between the two countries started with trade, missionary, immigration and other links between 1912 and 1949. Relations all but stopped when the People’s Republic of China was formed and during the Korean War. New Zealand re-kindled the relationship in 1972 by recognising the People’s Republic of China.
China’s opening up and experimental economic reform policies in the late 1970s and early 1980s (beginning in southern China and then spreading throughout the country) resulted in increased business and other contacts. This received a further boost from China’s dynamic economic growth in recent decades. Rising Chinese living standards has seen increased demand for New Zealand products.
Education links have grown considerably. From early beginnings when both countries offered an exchange programme for three students each, China is now our largest source of foreign students. Around 23,000 Chinese currently study in New Zealand.
Tourism between our two countries has also increased rapidly. Our first diplomats had to walk into China after flying to Hong Kong because China had no international air links. There are now daily flights between New Zealand and China, serviced by Air New Zealand and China Southern Airlines. China is the second, and most rapidly-growing, source of tourists to New Zealand (behind Australia).
NZ Inc China Strategy
NZ Inc is the Government’s plan to strengthen New Zealand’s economic, political and security relationships with key international partners—specifically countries and regions where we already have existing or growing relationships, and there is potential for significant growth. The China Strategy, launched by Prime Minister John Key in February 2012, sets an ambitious five-year plan for our relationship with China. This includes stronger political ties, doubling trade in goods, growing tourism by at least 60% and education by 20%, improving investment opportunities and collaborating on science and technology. Read more on the Strategy…
In 1997 New Zealand became the first country to agree to China’s accession to the WTO by concluding the bilateral negotiations component of that process.
New Zealand was the first developed country to recognise China as a market economy.
New Zealand was the first developed country to commence FTA negotiations with China. In November 2004, New Zealand and China launched FTA negotiations.
In April 2008, New Zealand became the first country to successfully conclude Free Trade Agreement negotiations with China.
Trade with China has been one of the great success stories of the New Zealand export sector. In 2008 the establishment of New Zealand–China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was as huge milestone. It was projected to increase our export revenue by between NZ$225-$350 million per year. It far exceeded expectations, increasing export revenue by NZ$1 billion (to $3.5 billion) in the first year.
Our annual exports to China reached NZ$11.3 billion in September 2014. China has surpassed Australia to become New Zealand’s number one export destination for goods and services.
These numbers don’t include exports to China through Hong Kong. Up to one-third of New Zealand’s exports to Hong Kong are destined for mainland China.
Under the NZ Inc China Strategy, New Zealand had a target of reaching $20b in two-way goods trade by 2015. This target was reached in the second quarter of 2014. In March 2013 The Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Chinese President then revised the trade target up to $30 by 2020.
It was New Zealand’s biggest trade deal since the Closer Economic Relations agreement with Australia in the 1980s. The New Zealand–China FTA cements the trading relationship between our two countries, and frees up business for exporters, the service sector and investors. Read more on the FTA…
Trade in goods
Agricultural products are the bulk of our exports to China, but the export profile is diversifying to include machinery, aluminium, plastics, wine and high technology products (especially telecommunications). New Zealand’s main imports from China are electronics, clothing, furniture and toys. More details on the goods trade is available on the Statistics New Zealand website.
Trade in services
China is New Zealand’s largest education market, with more than 24,000 Chinese students coming to study in New Zealand each year.
Chinese tourists number more than 240,000 each year, making China New Zealand’s second largest tourism market.
While education and tourism are the biggest service exports, New Zealand also exports our growing ‘knowledge economy’ services such as design, information technology, film and TV, and food safety.
Investment between New Zealand and China has been relatively small, but is set to grow with Fonterra planning to significantly increase its farming operation in China, and Rakon having recently opened a US$35 million factory in Chengdu. Some recent high profile Chinese investments into New Zealand include Haier in Fisher and Paykel Appliances, Shanghai Bright Dairy in Synlait, and Agria in PGG Wrightson. Envirowaste? = biggest Chinese investment in NZ to date.
New Zealand no longer has an official aid programme in China — this stopped in 2005 — however we still contribute $500,000 a year through the Development Project Fund for activities to reduce poverty. The New Zealand Embassy in Beijing runs a small grant scheme of NZ$80,000 a year, focusing on the poorer, inland western provinces.
China and New Zealand now partner for aid and development work in places of common interest, such as the Pacific. This reflects China's significant economic development and emerging role as an active donor, and New Zealand's focus on its Pacific neighbours.
New Zealand and China are currently working together in the Cook Islands to replace the water supply system on Rarotonga to improve water quality, reliability and drought resilience.
Recent New Zealand High-Level Visits to China
Governor-General Anand Satyanand August 2008
Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys November-December 2000
Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister November 2014
Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister March 2014
Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister April 2013
Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister July 2010
Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister April 2009
Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister April 2008
Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister May 2005
Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister October 2001
Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister April 2001
Rt Hon Jenny Shipley, Prime Minister July 1999
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs May 2015
Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation April 2015
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade February 2015
Hon Craig Foss, Minister of Small Business January 2015
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs November 2014
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade November 2014
Hon Michael Woodhouse, Minister of Police July 2014
Hon Simon Bridges, Minister of Energy and Resources June 2014
Hon Jo Goodhew, Minister of Women's Affairs May 2014
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade May 2014
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade March 2014
Hon Nikki Kaye, Minister of Food Safety March 2014
Hon Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs February 2014
Hon Craig Foss, Minister of Broadcasting December 2013
Hon Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Defence November 2013
Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Economic Development November 2013
Hon Judith Collins, Minister of Justice October 2013
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs July 2013
Hon Michael Woodhouse, Minister of Immigration July 2013
Hon Nathan Guy, Minister of Agriculture June 2013
Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Economic Development April 2013
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs April 2013
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade April 2013
Hon Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs April 2013
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs July 2012
Hon Judith Collins, Minister of Ethnic Affairs/Justice June 2012
Hon Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs June 2012
Hon Nathan Guy, Minister of Immigration April 2012
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs April 2012
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade March 2012
Hon Jonathan Coleman, Minister of State Services August 2011
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade August 2011
Hon Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment April 2011
Hon Phil Heatley, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture November 2010
Hon Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs 5-11 September 2010
Hon Pansy Wong, Minister of Ethnic Affairs and Women's Affairs July 2010
Hon Anne Tolley, Minister of Education June 2010
Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Tertiary Education June 2010
Hon Gerry Brownlee, Minister of Economic Development June 2010
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade May 2010
Hon Pansy Wong, Minister of Ethnic Affairs and Women's Affairs March 2010
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade March 2010
Hon David Carter, Minister of Agriculture March 2010
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs March 2010
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade February 2010
Hon Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Food Safety October 2009
Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, Minister of Defence and Research, Science & Technology September 2009
Hon Pansy Wong, Minister of Ethnic and Women's Affairs April 2009
Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Trade April 2008
Hon Pete Hodgson, Minister of Research, Science and Technology April 2008
Rt Hon Winston Peters Minister of Foreign Affairs November 2007
Hon Dr Michael Cullen, Deputy Prime Minister September 2007
Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Customs and Youth Affairs August 2007
Hon Dover Samuels, Minister of State July 2007
Rt Hon Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs May 2007
Hon Annette King, Minister of Civil Aviation; Minister of Police April 2007
Hon David Cunliffe, Minister of Communications & IT March 2007
Hon Annette King, Minister of Food Safety & Minister of Police December 2006
Hon Phil Goff, Minister for Trade Negotiations & Minister of Defence November 2006
Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister of Tourism November 2006
Hon Jim Sutton, Minister of State April 2006
Hon Jim Sutton, Minister of State March 2006
Hon Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations July 2005
Hon Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations June 2005
Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade February 2005
Hon Annette King, Minister of Health September 2004
Hon Pete Hodgson, Minister for Research, Science and Technology August 2004
Hon Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Forestry February 2004
Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt, Speaker of the House of Representatives September 2003
Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade September 2003
Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister of Education September 2003
Hon Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations and Minister for Agriculture December 2002
Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister of Education May 2002
Graham Kelly and four MPs (to Tibet) April 2002
Hon Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations and Minister for Agriculture March 2002
Recent Senior Chinese Visits to New Zealand
President, Vice President, Premier & Vice Premiers
Xi Jinping, President November 2014
Huí Liángyů, Vice Premier September 2011
Xi Jinping, Vice President June 2010
Li Keqiang, Vice Premier November 2009
Zeng Peiyan, Vice Premier March 2007
Wen Jiabao, Premier April 2006
Hu Jintao, President October 2003
Jiang Zemin, President September 1999
Other senior leaders
Hu Chunhua, Party Secretary of Guangdong May 2015
Ding Xuexiang, General Office of the CCCPC November 2014
Li Zhanshu, Politburo member November 2014
Liu He, Deputy Head of the General Office of the CCCPC, November 2014
Wang Huning, Politburo member November 2014
Xu Shaoshi, Chairman of NDRC November 2014
Yang Jiechi, State Councillor November 2014
Chen Yuan, Vice Chairman, CPPCC January 2014
Liu Yandong, State Councillor December 2012
Wang Yáng, Party Secretary of Guangdong June 2012
Jia Qinglin, Chairman, CPPCC April 2012
Wang Yi, Director of State Council August 2010
Hu Jianmin, Secretary-General of State Council January 2006
Wu Bangguo, Chairman, National People's Congress May 2005
Zhang Dejiang, Politburo member November 2003
Li Changchun, Politburo member July 2003
Wu Guanzheng, Politburo member April 2002
Jia Qinglin, Politburo member May 2001
Wang Lequan, Secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee March 2000
Zeng Qinghong, alternate Politburo member March 2000
He Guogiang, Politburo member February 2004
Central Military Commission and other Defence-related visitors
General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman, Central Military Commission July 2014
General Zhao Keshi, Director, General Logistics Department October 2013
Guo Boxiong, Vice Chairman, Central Military Commission May 2010
Xu Caihou, Vice Chairman, Central Military Commission September 2006
General Liang Guanglie, Chief of General Staff People's Liberation Army November 2004
Zhang Wannian, Vice Chairman, Central Military Commission April 2001
Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs November 2014
Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs September 2014
Li Liguo, Minister of Civil Affairs June 2014
Cai Wu, Minister of Culture August 2013
Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology March 2011
Wang Jiarui, Head of the Communist Party's International Department February 2009
Bo Xilai, Minister of Commerce October 2006
Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs April 2006
Bo Xilai, Minister of Commerce April 2006
Ma Kai, Minister, National Development and Reform Commission April 2006
Xu Guanhua, Minister of Science and Technology February 2006
Bo Xilai, Minister of Commerce May 2004
Ma Kai, Minister, National Development and Reform Commission October 2003
Li Changjiang, Minister, General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) October 2003
Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs October 2003
Sun Jiazheng, Minister of Culture July 2003
Tang Jiaxuan, Minister for Foreign Affairs March 2002
Zhang Fusen, Minister of Justice September 2001
Tang Jiaxuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs September 1999 page