BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) -- In a signed article published prior to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to New Zealand, the country's Ambassador to China John McKinnon described the relationship between the two countries as a genuine friendship and a trailblazing partnership and expected the two sides to further expand their cooperation.
"Since our two countries established diplomatic relations 45 years ago, New Zealand's relationship with China has broadened and matured. Our economic horizons have become intertwined and our people have learned much from one another," McKinnon wrote in the article.
Presenting figures that mark the rapid development of New Zealand-China ties and increasingly close interactions between the two sides, the diplomat said it's no surprise "that China is regarded as one of New Zealand's most significant political, economic and cultural partners. And that China regards the bilateral relationship as a 'comprehensive strategic partnership.'"
He listed "the five important firsts" regarding bilateral trade. "New Zealand was the first country to agree to China's WTO accession, the first to recognize China as a market economy, the first developed country to commence negotiating and to sign a bilateral FTA with China and most recently the first developed country to launch an upgrade of that FTA," he wrote.
Beyond trade, the two countries also created several firsts in areas including a global aid program, TV and film production, organic food, among others, McKinnon said.
Commending China's stance on globalization, the ambassador said his country "looks forward to us both working together to demonstrate the benefits of open markets to others, during Premier Li's visit and beyond."
"New Zealand and China recently launched negotiations to upgrade our bilateral FTA. This will set the scene for a new chapter of growth in our relations, and demonstrate China's commitment on trade liberalization to the whole world."
The Chinese premier is expected to arrive in New Zealand on Sunday for an official visit, the first of its kind in 11 years.
"When Premier Li Keqiang first visited New Zealand in 2009 in his capacity as vice premier, he was hosted by then Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. Now our new Prime Minister Bill English will be hosting Li Keqiang as Premier of China, a wonderful opportunity to take stock of this important and trailblazing relationship," the article concluded.