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Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has travelled to Beijing (file photo).
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has met China’s top-ranking diplomats in Beijing overnight.
Mahuta travelled to China earlier this week for a bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang. But, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mahuta also met the more senior Wang Yi, director of foreign affairs for the Chinese Communist Party’s politburo, on Friday evening.
“Despite differences in history, culture and social systems, China and New Zealand have always respected, appreciated and trusted each other, and the bilateral relations have long been at the forefront of China’s relations with developed Western countries,” Wang said, according to the foreign ministry.
New Zealand’s relationship with China, its largest trading partner, is economically vital but has come under increasing strain in recent years, as China has grown more assertive on the world stage and clashed with the United States and Australia.
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The Government has in recent years cast New Zealand as having a “mature relationship” with China, in which trade can continue as differences – such as views on China’s human right repression of the Uyghur minority – are discussed.
This stance appears favoured by Chinese officials and state media, which at times comment on New Zealand’s seemingly independent stance towards China in comparison to the more combatant relationships with the US, Canada, and Australia.
Mahuta’s days-long visit to Beijing, the first for a Cabinet minister since 2019, came as China’s President Xi Jinping travelled to Moscow in a show of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched an invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and was last week charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Mahuta declined interviews before the trip to Beijing but said in a statement she would talk to Qin about trade, advocate for New Zealand’s interests and values on matters including human rights, and raise concern about Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Comment has been sought from both the foreign minister’s office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about Mahuta’s meetings on Friday evening.
According to statements published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry overnight, Mahuta held a bilateral meeting with Qin at which the Chinese foreign minister said China and New Zealand should seek “common ground while shelving differences”.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has served as a wake-up call for Taiwanese people.
“China is ready to work with New Zealand to continue the sound momentum of high-level exchanges and increase political mutual trust,” Qin was reported as saying.
Mahuta reportedly said New Zealand “attaches great importance to China’s influence as a major country, [and] appreciates China’s leadership in such fields as climate change”.
According to the Chinese foreign ministry “the two sides also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and concern”.
Wang was reported as saying China appreciated New Zealand’s “practical and positive policy towards China”, and there was “full confidence” in the stability of the relationship.
Mahuta was reported as saying New Zealand looked forward to “strengthening high-level exchanges with China”.
The pair discussed the “Ukraine crisis”, China’s preferred description of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Wang said a ceasefire was needed for peace talks.
Mahuta has previously met Wang, formerly the foreign minister before he was elevated to the politburo.