|Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi (R) meets with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 22, 2013. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
BEIJING, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Thursday urged New Zealand to improve food safety after toxic bacteria were found in imported dairy products from the island country's dairy giant Fonterra.
"[We] hope the New Zealand side will appropriately handle food safety issues, including the safety of dairy products, exported to China and substantially ensure Chinese consumers' interests," Yang said as he met with New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
McCully is paying a formal visit to China from Tuesday to Thursday at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
During the meeting with Yang, McCully said New Zealand will take strict measures to step up regulatory oversight of the dairy industry and regain the confidence of Chinese consumers with concrete action.
New Zealand attaches great importance to the relationship with China, McCully said.
Fonterra has been the subject of two international food safety alerts revealed this month, with the worst case being whey protein concentrate shipped to customers at home and abroad contaminated with bacteria that can cause botulism.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that a shipment of Fonterra-made lactoferrin was stopped in China in May after Chinese authorities found it contained excessive levels of nitrates. Lactoferrin made by rival New Zealand firm Westland Milk Products was also the subject of a recall in China this month for the same reason.
During Thursday's meeting, Yang hailed the development of bilateral ties in recent years.
China and New Zealand should view the bilateral relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective, and tap the immense potential for cooperation in more areas to further advance their relationship, said the Chinese state councilor.
The two sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.