WELLINGTON, April 11 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand is to appoint science and innovation counselor to its embassy in Beijing as part of a drive to expand science cooperation with China, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said Thursday.
Joyce, currently with Prime Minister John Key's delegation in China, said the appointment to be filled later this year was also part of its commitment to expand its diplomatic presence in China.
"The science and innovation counselor will act as New Zealand's science and innovation advocate in China," Joyce said in a statement from his office Thursday.
"They will promote New Zealand's reputation as a smart nation to the Chinese science community, and they will help build closer relationships between researchers, businesses and government agencies in both countries."
In recent years, New Zealand researchers and innovators had increasingly engaged with Chinese counterparts.
"The time is now right to expand and help take these relationships to another level by appointing a dedicated China- based official," said Joyce.
On Wednesday, Joyce also signed a scientist exchange program arrangement with Chinese Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang.
The program was intended to encourage greater understanding, and development of research links between New Zealand and Chinese researchers, and to facilitate access to expertise in each country, he said.
Collaboration would be targeted at priority areas like non- communicable diseases, food security and safety, and water research.
Up to 10 scientists would travel in each direction each year to engage in projects.