NZ-China issues 'temporary'

Jacinda Ardern and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Asean Summit in November in Singapore. Photo...
Jacinda Ardern and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Asean Summit in November in Singapore. Photo: ASEAN
The relationship between China and New Zealand is not as rocky as some pundits and politicians are making it out to be, a visiting Chinese political scientist says.

"The two nations' shared interests override any temporary difficulties," Prof Ren Xiao said.

"The relationship will return to its previous state, and it is likely Ms Ardern will travel to China for a state visit."

In New Zealand as a guest of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Prof Ren is associate dean at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai.

He has previously held visiting research positions in Finland, Japan, and at George Washington University in the United States.

Prof Ren predicted negotiations between Trade Minister David Parker and his Chinese counterpart regarding an enhanced free trade agreement would also progress this year.

"There have been some bumps on the road, but these are not big problems for our two countries," he said.

"It is in both countries' interests to make the relationship mutually beneficial, and that is the most important thing ... we are hopeful an agreement can be reached later this year."

China has greatly increased its aid and development projects in the Pacific in recent years, and Prof Ren said that activity should not arouse suspicions of ulterior motives.

"Countries such as Australia, New Zealand and China all help them [Pacific nations] develop," he said.

"Australia and New Zealand should not worry about China increasing its aid ... I think we should all enhance our aid to the island countries, and New Zealand and China should have greater communication about what we want to do in the future and about what you want to do in the future.

"Through that dialogue our two countries can have a better understanding of each other's plans, and in that way the two countries can avoid misunderstandings on that particular issue."

Prof Ren's specialties include Sino-US relations and Korean peninsula issues, so he had keenly followed the recent summit in Vietnam between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump.

Although the summit finished early and without any agreement being signed, Prof Ren was again optimistic, and said he was sure diplomacy was still ongoing between the two countries.

"The two sides have expressed a willingness to continue their talks, and both used the word `constructive' to refer to the Hanoi talks, so I believe the talks will continue."

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