AMBASSADOR CARL WORKER ADDRESSES NEW ZEALAND STUDIES UNDERGRADUATE COURSE STUDENTS AT PEKING UNIVERSITY 2009
New Zealand Ambassador Addresses NZ Centre Students at Peking University
On 25 November 2009, New Zealand Ambassador H.E. Carl Worker addressed the students of the New Zealand Centre’s undergraduate course, New Zealand History and Culture. In a presentation lasting two hours, Ambassador Worker gave the students a broad overview of the historical features, current dynamics and future prospects of China-New Zealand relations. Carl Worker has contributed to strengthening New Zealand-China relations for over 25 years. A career diplomat, he served at the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing twice in the past – from 1984-86 and then again from 1992-94 – before taking up his current post as Ambassador in April of this year. Carl also served as New Zealand’s Consul-General in Hong Kong from 1994-98, representing New Zealand during Hong Kong’s historic return to China.
In his presentation, Ambassador Worker described today’s relationship between China and New Zealand – characterised by frequent high level visits and close cooperation in many areas – as ‘busy and substantive’. China was the second country New Zealand Prime Minister John Key visited upon taking office, second only to Australia. Recently, Chinese Executive Vice President Li Keqiang paid an official visit to New Zealand, where he opened a second Confucius Institute. Indeed, Premier Wen Jiabao has stated that China and New Zealand’s relationship is currently at its highest point thus far. According to Ambassador Worker, the free trade agreement (FTA) signed in 2008 between New Zealand and China is an important milestone in the relationship. This was China’s first comprehensive bilateral FTA with a developed Western country, and was the result of several years of intensive negotiations. The agreement has proven to be highly successful. Two-way trade between China and New Zealand has gone up around 25 percent since the implementation of the FTA. This growth is particularly impressive in the context of the current global economic downturn.
Aside from the FTA, the Ambassador pointed to a variety of other areas in which the two countries are working together for mutual benefit. New Zealand is a destination of choice for many Chinese international students and tourists, and this trend is set to continue. There also exists great scope for Chinese-New Zealand cooperation in the areas of science and technology, environmental sustainability, and climate change. Finally, the Ambassador spoke of the importance of the Chinese community in New Zealand, and noted the contributions that Chinese have made to New Zealand. At the conclusion of his talk, Ambassador Worker took questions from the student audience. This seminar presented a very valuable opportunity for PKU students to hear from and interact with a distinguished diplomat and expert in the field of China-New Zealand relations.