WELLINGTON, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping spoke highly Friday of relations between China and New Zealand, proposing more measures to advance the bilateral relationship.
In talks with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Auckland, Xi said the relationship was at a historical high.
He said there were frequent exchanges of high-level visits and there had been remarkable achievements in bilateral trade and economic cooperation thanks to the implementation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
In October 2008, China and New Zealand signed the FTA, the first of its kind between China and a developed country.
The FTA has boosted trade between the two countries, with volumes increasing 3.6 percent in 2009 despite the worldwide economic and trade downturn.
Xi stressed China had always taken a strategic and long-term approach towards its ties with New Zealand and regarded New Zealand as a good friend and partner in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Chinese vice president put forward a four-point proposal on further boosting the bilateral relationship, including more political, economic and cultural exchanges and more coordination on major international issues.
Xi urged both sides to tap the potential for economic cooperation while making full use of the FTA and to make trade and investment more balanced, smooth and comprehensive.
John Key said he was satisfied with the development of the New Zealand-China relations.
On the basis of successfully implementing the FTA, New Zealand was willing to expand and explore more cooperation in fields such as agriculture, science and technology, education, tourism and food security.
On the same day, Xi called for more cooperation between China and New Zealand to elevate bilateral relations.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement Seminar in Auckland, Xi, who arrived in the country Thursday morning for a three-day official visit, told local business leaders the further strengthening of exchanges and cooperation in various fields would be conducive not only to the well-being of the two peoples, but also to economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region and the larger world.
Xi put forward a four-point proposal to promote comprehensive cooperation in trade and investment to a new level.
The first was to focus on important sectors and explore cooperative potentials. He said New Zealand was rich in resources and advanced in science and technology while China had large markets and inexpensive laborers with good quality. So the two countries could put improving the quality of economic and trade cooperation as their future focus.
The second was to expand cooperative sectors and enrich its contents. Xi said both countries could make full use of the FTA to expand trade in all fields, particularly in new energy, environmental, biological technology and high and new technologies.
The third was to deepen regional cooperation and push forward multi-lateral development. Xi said both China and New Zealand could play a bigger role in pushing forward Asia-Pacific regional economic development.
The fourth was to enlarge the sphere of exchanges and seek a harmonious development. Xi said China was the top source of foreign students and the fastest growing source of foreign tourists in New Zealand. He hoped the two countries could further expand the exchange and cooperation in education, science and technology, culture and tourism.
During the stay in Auckland, Xi also held talks with New Zealand Governor-General Anand Satyanand on Thursday.
Xi said, with the implementation of the FTA, bilateral trade has increased rapidly. China has now become New Zealand's second largest trade partner and third largest export market.
The Chinese vice president also stressed the Chinese government attached great importance to China-New Zealand relations and regarded Wellington as a good friend and partner in China's mutually beneficial cooperation with the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Satyanand, after giving Xi a Maori tribal welcoming ceremony in front of Government House, said Xi could take the visit as an opportunity to meet with people from various fields and discuss ways to expand bilateral cooperation together.
"This will certainly help push the bilateral relations to a new level," he said.
After a stop in Auckland, Xi flew into Wellington, capital of New Zealand, where on Friday he met Lockwood Smith, speaker of the House of Representatives.
During the meeting, Xi said the communication between legislatures of the two countries was a vital part of the bilateral relationship at large, calling for more exchanges between lawmakers from both sides.
On the same day, Xi also met New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, and opposition party chief Phil Goff.
New Zealand is the third leg of Xi's four-nation tour. He will next visit Australia before heading back to China.