Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) and his New Zealand's counterpart Bill English attend a joint press conference after talks in Wellington, New Zealand, March 27, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
by Xinhua Writer Tian Ye
WELLINGTON, March 28 (Xinhua) -- In the course of China's reform and opening up, the interactions between the Asian colossus and Western countries often witness twists and turns. But New Zealand, despite its remote location in the Southern Hemisphere, has been taking the lead in forging strong ties with China.
From Rewi Alley, a New Zealand-born writer, educator and social reformer who devoted 60 years of his life to China's national independence, to a free trade agreement (FTA) it signed as the first Western country in 2008 with China, New Zealand has forged an enduring bond with the Asian giant.
New Zealand was also among the first countries to acknowledge China's full market economy status and join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to which many other Western powers were then taking a wait-and-see approach.
During the ongoing visit to New Zealand by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, a tour by a sitting Chinese premier in 11 years, the two sides agreed to start the negotiations on upgrading their FTA in Beijing in late April.
The bilateral free trade deal is expected to move beyond traditional trade ties on farm products to areas such as investment and service trade, which will bring more real benefits to people of both countries.
During Li's visit, China and New Zealand also signed a memorandum of understanding on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
New Zealand became the first Western developed country to participate in the initiative aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
These outcomes, which add to the long list of ground-breaking achievements China and New Zealand have scored in bilateral cooperation, are attributed to both countries' relentless efforts to deepen their relations and cooperation, and more importantly, their determination to further their ties through uncertain times.
The China-New Zealand relations have become a model of mutually beneficial cooperation between countries of different national conditions. New Zealand has been a lead among developed countries in exchanges with China.
The development of bilateral relations over the past 45 years tells us that mutual respect, equal treatment, sincerity and mutual trust as well as win-win cooperation lay a solid foundation for the development of bilateral relations.
Li's visit has greatly promoted the strategic mutual trust between the two countries, deepened their cooperation and injected new impetus into the development of bilateral ties.
Amid global rising protectionism, Li's visit is also sending a signal of the two countries jointly pursuing openness and win-win cooperation to strengthen the confidence of the region and the world at large.
It is advisable that China and New Zealand take the opportunities of Li's visit to further their exchanges and cooperation, so as to implement the consensus on building their comprehensive strategic partnership reached by leaders of both sides.
Both countries should take concrete actions to jointly safeguard the global free trade mechanism, oppose trade protectionism, and usher globalization toward a more inclusive and beneficial direction.
By doing so, China and New Zealand will jointly open up their future to continue to build a unique relationship and actively contribute to regional and world development.