WELLINGTON, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said he hopes his ongoing New Zealand visit will deepen bilateral friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation and both countries will work together to create a brighter future for their ties.
Li, who started Sunday a four-day official visit to New Zealand, made the remarks in a signed article published Monday in local newspaper The New Zealand Herald.
In the article, Li spoke highly of the "relentless" efforts China and New Zealand have made to develop bilateral relations and cooperation since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 45 years ago.
"Together, we kept on scaling new heights and setting new records in China's relations with Western developed countries," he said.
Li mentioned a long list of the "ground-breaking" cooperation between both countries, noting that New Zealand was the first Western developed country to conclude bilateral negotiations on China's accession to the World Trade Organization, the first to recognize China's full market-economy status, and the first to sign and implement a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
New Zealand also is the first Western developed country to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member, and the first to hold a nationwide Chinese Language Week, he added.
For four years in a row, China has been New Zealand's largest trading partner, the largest source of foreign students and second largest source of tourists. Each week, about 50 direct flights travel across the Pacific between both countries, he said.
As relations and cooperation between China and New Zealand have reached unprecedented levels and their interests have become more intertwined than ever before, the Chinese leader urged the two countries to "do even better."
"We need to fully harness our comparative strengths, and unleash our potential for common development by synergizing our development strategies," he said.
Li suggested that both sides move beyond a "fairly stable trade relationship on farm products" and promote high-tech-driven, high-value-added, whole-industrial-chain cooperation.
He also urged the two countries to explore new areas such as e-commerce, biopharmaceuticals, energy conservation and environmental protection and infrastructure development to foster new growth areas in bilateral cooperation.
On bilateral trade, Li said it has increased nearly threefold over the past eight years since the China-New Zealand FTA came into force, delivering real benefits to the two peoples.
Despite its trade deficit with New Zealand, China remains committed to seizing the opportunity of FTA upgrading negotiations to facilitate greater mutual openness of both markets, he said.
"We are ready to import more goods from New Zealand that are competitive and high-quality, to provide more choices for Chinese consumers and push Chinese companies toward greater competitiveness," Li said.
He said the announcement in late 2016 to launch negotiations on upgrading the bilateral FTA "sends a positive signal of support for trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, especially in the context of weak global economic recovery, rising protectionism and bitter backlash against globalization."
"We have every reason to believe that globalization will continue to move forward despite its setbacks, just as one should not stop eating for fear of getting choked. And the door, once opened, should not be closed," the premier said.
Furthermore, Li said China and New Zealand have been able to transcend differences in national conditions, stage of development, culture and tradition to achieve win-win outcomes on the basis of mutual respect and equality.
"The Chinese civilization values openness and inclusiveness, and New Zealand is known for its multicultural dynamism," he said, urging the two countries to jointly call for diversity of world civilizations and add more color and splendor to the development of world cultures.
"We need to jointly uphold world peace and regional stability, promote economic globalization, build an open world economy, and make new contributions to the development and prosperity of our region and the world," he said.
"I am confident that our joint efforts to scale new heights will create an even brighter future for China-New Zealand relations and make our world a more splendid place," the premier concluded.