A delegation of nine members from the Asia New Zealand Foundation (ANZF) paid a week-long visit to China from August 24-30 engaging in multiple exchanges and discussions with officials, experts, scholars and business representatives from different fields in China.
Lead by John Luxton, chair of ANZF and a former New Zealand government minister, the delegation also included two journalists and a youth delegate from Fonterra, a New Zealand dairy cooperative, as observers.
Mr Luxton told the Global Times at a dinner party hosted by the New Zealand Consul-General in Shanghai, Ms Guergana Guermanoff, that trips to China have always proved too short for him and his colleagues. The delegation reported that they found new similarities among the differences between the two countries during this trip.
The ANZF was founded in 1994 to improve New Zealanders' knowledge and understanding of countries in Asia. The foundation receives funding from the New Zealand government as well as from corporations and philanthropic organizations. It builds partnerships with influential organizations in New Zealand and Asia to provide high-level forums, cultural events, international collaborations and professional development opportunities.
The four-leg trip started in Beijing and ended in Shanghai.
At the New Zealand ambassador's official residence in Beijing, two economic and trade roundtables were held between the delegation, staff from the embassy and experts, professors and officials from Chinese government departments and research institutions.
From the capital, the delegation then headed northeast to the Grand Farms at Zhaodong Economic Development Zone, in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on August 26.
The farm visit was followed by a meeting at the Nestle Dairy Farming Institute in Jiuyuan village, also in Heilongjiang.
And in order to learn more about Alibaba's global e-commerce "ecosystem", including its work with the New Zealand market, the delegation paid a visit to Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province.
Sam Yoon, a postgraduate research grant recipient and youth delegate observer from the ANZF, told the Global Times that Alibaba impressed him so much that he would like to work for the company.
At the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, three roundtables were organized on the themes of China's economy, regional trade issues, and the Belt and Road initiative.
On the topic of economic growth, questions such as "How is China rebalancing its economy toward domestic consumption and increased productivity?" and "How will this impact on China's future growth targets?" were raised in a Q&A format.
On the topic of financial reform, participants discussed topics such as "What policies is China putting in place to open up the finance, banking and investment sectors? What lies ahead for yuan internationalization?" and "Will the currency become fully convertible in future?"
Around the issue of State Owned Enterprises reform, discussions tackled questions such as "What progress has China made with reform of SOEs" and "What does the future hold for SOE reform?"
For the roundtable on regional trade issues, and globalization and protectionism, questions raised included "What are some of the views in China on the issues of globalization vs protectionism in 2017?"
Questions concerning free trade in the Asia Pacific Q&A included "What progress is being made on bilateral free trade agreements between China and other economies in the region?" and "What are some of the main views in China on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and possibilities for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)."
Meanwhile, the topic of the digital economy was based around questions of "What are the impacts of the digital economy for trade between China and the rest of the world?" and "How can consumers' and businesses' rights be protected (e.g. privacy, IP) without restricting trade?"
Food security was placed as the fourth topic of the roundtable discussion, tackling the question of "How is China approaching the issue of food security and food safety in an increasingly interconnected global environment?"
In the Belt and Road initiative roundtable, topics and questions included: "How has the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative developed since it was introduced? How does the Maritime Silk Road and the China-Oceania-South Pacific Blue Economic Passage support maritime cooperation and economic connectivity in the region?" and "How does the Belt and Road initiative support China's foreign and trade policy with respect to Oceania and the Pacific region?"
Mr John Luxton, Chair of Asia New Zealand Foundation and former New Zealand Minister (Head of Delegation)
Ms Pip McLachlan, Director Engagement and Research, ANZF
Ms Stephanie Honey, Associate Director of the New Zealand International Business
Mr Derek Gill, Principal Economist, New Zealand Institute for Economic Research and Research Associate Institute of Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
Mr Jason Young, Acting Director, New Zealand Contemporary China Research Center
Ms Renee Heal, Senior Policy Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Mr Sam Sachdeva, Foreign Affairs and Trade Editor Newsroom (journalist)
Mr Jeremy Rees, National Communities Editor Fairfax (journalist)
Mr Sam Yoon, Fonterra (youth delegate)
John Luxton, chairman of ANZF Photo: Courtesy of ANZF
Guergana Guermanoff, New Zealand Consul-General in Shanghai Photo: Feng Yu/GT
A person takes pictures in New Zealand. Photo: CFP