Chinese Foreign Minister’s Visit To New Zealand Sparks Row

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By Kalyan Kumar | September 1, 2014 3:04 PM EST

The government of New Zealand is facing criticism for hosting the Chinese Foreign Minister this week. The Opposition is questioning the government on the haste in doing China diplomacy, when the elections are hardly a few weeks away.

Reuters
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key smiles after the general election in Auckland November 26, 2011.

A Stuff. Co. NZ report talks about the concerns of the Opposition in not announcing the topics of discussion, as if adding more to the mystery.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully's office has confirmed Wang Yi's impending visit to New Zealand, on Thursday and Friday.

China Issue

It may be recalled that the election campaign in New Zealand, had a good deal of spat over the ruling party's soft corner for China. Even a recent Great Immigration Debate at Eden Park in Auckland, saw the Opposition Labour MP Trevor Mallard lashing out for lowering the reputation of New Zealand by letting in "rich and lazy Chinese students".

The cacophony over the 13,800-hectare Lochinver Station land purchased by Chinese investors Shanghai Pengxin, still has not subsided.   

Opposition parties were vocal in charging the ruling National Party of abetting the sale of as much as 1 million hectares of New Zealand land during its tenure to the Chinese, without due care for the Overseas Investment Office guidelines.

Visit is not normal

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters slammed the visit and said the election date is so close and the visit looks very odd. He does not see the visit as a normal one and sees some mystery when the election is so close. The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that Wang would co-host the second round of China-Australia Diplomatic and Strategic Dialogue.

Government Clarifies

Meanwhile, the McCully's office reacted to the criticism and said Wang was visiting both New Zealand and Australia to undertake a range of bilateral calls. In New Zealand, the Chinese Foreign Minister will meet Prime Minister John Key, Foreign Minister McCully, Trade Minister Tim Groser and leading members of the Opposition.

The Foreign office Spokesman said the official programme will be announced soon. Responding to the concerns, he said the government was aware of the criticism and addressed the issue by briefing the Opposition suitably.

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(Photo: Reuters / Nigel Marple )
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key smiles after the general election in Auckland November 26, 2011.
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