by Xinhua writers Li Laifang, Su Liang
WELLINGTON, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Arriving in Wellington on Sunday after a successful visit to Australia, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang began his official trip in New Zealand with a private dinner.
Li's plane touched down at Wellington Airport at about 6:30 p.m. local time (0530 GMT). He and his wife Cheng Hong were greeted by New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and his wife Mary. Then they left the airport for Premier House, the official residence of the New Zealand Prime Minister, where the private dinner was served.
The dinner marked the start of Li's four-day visit to the country, which is known as "the land of the long white cloud." He held talks with English on Monday and both witnessed the signing of cooperation documents in various fields including the Belt and Road Initiative, an inclusive development project proposed by China in 2013.
During his stay, Li will visit a China-New Zealand cooperation project and attend a cultural activity in Auckland, the largest city of the country.
The Chinese premier wrapped up his five-day visit to Australia on Sunday. Both sides pledged to push forward free trade and enhance cooperation in innovation and other areas.
The visits to the two countries are the first by a Chinese premier in 11 years and the first for Li since he took office as premier in 2013.
China is the largest trading partners of Australia and New Zealand, and has free trade agreements in effect with both countries.
Besides official talks, private dinners were an important occasion for Li to talk about bilateral cooperation.
Such informal interactions are an extension of traditional diplomacy, and often work well for cementing personal friendship and discussing topics of common concern in a relaxed environment.
In Australia, Li was treated a private dinner by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney.
The private dinner hosted by the prime minister and his wife was for the friendship of the two countries, Li told business leaders from both countries before attending the dinner at Turnbull's residence.
The Chinese premier also made use of formal dinners to discuss cooperation.
At a formal lunch on the second day of his Australian tour, Li impressed the audience very much with his humor.
"I just checked with the waiter whether we are having beef today. The answer is no. Only chicken will be served," said smiling Li, when addressing more than 400 lawmakers, businessmen and other people at the luncheon hosted by Turnbull at Parliament House in Canberra.
"Naturally I have come here not just for beef or chicken, but for many more areas of exchanges and cooperation we should pursue," Li said.
Participating figures highly appreciated his speech on boosting bilateral relations.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and New Zealand as well as between China and Australia.
The two developed Oceanian countries relying heavily on China in trade have showed their resolve to promote economic globalization and trade liberalization.
"The FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with China has been an enormous success," said English. "Trade openness and strong ties in the region are critical to New Zealand's economic growth, prosperity, and job creation."