skip to main content

Do we need to deepen our relationship with China? - 19 July 2022


Bill McAulay gave us his Viewpoint tonight. He said ...

'Fun Fact: Q How many Chinese cities have a larger population than Auckland?
A: 90 cities.

'My viewpoint is that we, New Zealand, need to deepen our relationship with China in order to protect our trade interests. 

'Why? Because trade with China has continued rapidly growing since 2000 and it is going to continue growing if we take care.

'In 2000 we exported $NZ1 billion and imported $NZ2 billion. That's $NZ3 billion in two-way trade. 

'In 2021 we exported $NZ20 billion and imported $NZ16 billion. So, in 21 years the two-way trade has grown from $NZ3 billion to $NZ36 billion!   Remarkably our ‘exports’ in 2021 included huge reductions in Chinese education in NZ and Chinese tourism in NZ.

'Thus, when international education and tourism get re-established in 2023, our dependence on China will be even greater.

NZ EXPORTS to CHINA 2000 to 2021

'China is by far our largest buyer. The next four largest nations (Australia, USA, Japan, and Korea) in total are equivalent to China’s imports from New Zealand.




'The Free Trade Agreement with China was signed in 2008 and then upgraded in 2021. It has been a remarkable achievement over the past 14 years for both countries and it looks like it will continue growing.


'So, why am I worried? 

  1. Because much of the growth has been achieved with commodity pricing of primary products. We simply got lucky with the rising prices. Dairy, beef, lamb, and forestry prices have all risen. Commodity prices will fall in the future.
  2. I don’t think that our personal relationships at the intergovernmental level are anywhere near good enough. Our politicians have only been rare visitors to China in the last five years. The PM has only spent one day there, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has never been there, and our Trade & Agriculture Minister was last there four years ago. I don’t think that we have had any senior Chinese politicians here in the last five years.
  3. Our government has got dragged into making critical commentary about internal Chinese matters. E.g. Uighur and Hong Kong issues. This doesn’t help our long-term relationship. We refrain from criticising internal matters in USA and Australia. We should treat our largest customer with the same respect. 
  4. There has been a very slow uptake of learning Chinese languages in secondary schools. In 2021 there were only 5000 students studying a Chinese language. More students are learning French, Spanish, and Japanese than Chinese. We need more people who understand Chinese languages and customs.
  5. We are getting very little news and commentary written by Kiwis from within China. We are seeing much more China-bashing commentary written by third-country journalists not based in China.

'A few words about Intellectual property – it’s not all about patents. NZ has a ‘rules-based respect for Intellectual Property’. As a generalisation, Chinese business has an attitude of ‘we will take your intellectual property if you don’t protect it and fight for it. There have been numerous cases of NZ/China conflicts around IP.

'I personally saw examples of these while living in China:

  • Milk powder packaged with Fonterra branding but not sold by Fonterra. - Inferior fake Kiwifruit labelled as NZ fruit but grown in China. 
  • Vacuum-packed lamb and beef labelled as being from NZ, Australia, USA but slaughtered in China.

'Last week I read an article about the issue of counterfeit packaging of Tasmanian cherries. Some clever track'n'trace developments now allow Chinese buyers to verify the authenticity of the cherries and highlight the fruit’s origins. 

'We need our eyes wide open and must be prepared to fight for NZ intellectual property. Both at commercial and senior politician levels

'The China engine room powered the economic recovery from the 2008 western banking system meltdown. In my view, China will also power the world economic recovery from Covid.

'My viewpoint is that we need to put way more effort into our relationship with China.'

Do we need to deepen our relationship with China? - 19 July 2022

+ Text Size -

Skip to TOP

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the server!