China Premier Li to visit New Zealand ‘this week’: NZ PM

WELLINGTON: Chinese Premier Li Qiang will visit New Zealand this week, Prime Minister Chris Luxon said Monday (Jun 10), a rare visit expected to focus on bolstering trade while setting aside security concerns.

Li will be the first Chinese premier to visit New Zealand since 2017, embarking on a trip that is widely tipped to also take him to Australia.

China is New Zealand’s largest export destination and Wellington has been one of Beijing’s closest partners among Western democracies.

But relations have become strained in recent years as China has looked to expand its military and diplomatic reach across the Pacific.

“I look forward to warmly welcoming Premier Li in New Zealand,” Luxon said in a statement.

“The premier’s visit is a valuable opportunity for exchanges on areas of cooperation between New Zealand and China.”

Luxon said Li – China’s number two official – would arrive for a ceremonial welcome and official dinner “later this week”, before a series of bilateral meetings.

Li follows a string of high-powered Chinese delegates who have made the trip to New Zealand in recent months.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi held high-level talks during a visit to the capital Wellington earlier this year.

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