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Chinese VP thanks New Zealand for hospitality

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Kate Chapman of NZPA

Beijing, China July 8 NZPA - Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping was quick to thank New Zealand for its hospitality when he visited last month despite a protest by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

Prime Minister John Key met with Mr Xi last night in Beijing.

At the start of the meeting, media were only allowed to attend the first five minutes, Mr Xi thanked New Zealand for their hospitality.

He did not mention the scuffle with Dr Norman's, who was holding a Tibetan flag, on the forecourt of Parliament when he tried to enter the building.

"Once again I would like to thank you, Mr Prime Minister, and the Government and people of New Zealand for your professional hospitality," Mr Xi said.

Mr Key had said while he would not apologise for New Zealanders' right to protest he would express regret that Mr Xi was not able to enter the building unimpeded.

The rest of the meeting was believed to have largely followed on from Mr Key's meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao earlier in the day.

Mr Key has said he wanted to double New Zealand's two-way trade with China over the next five years.

"I presented the ambitious goal of trying to double our two-way trade by 2015 and Premier Wen thought that was achievable and something they were prepared to support," he told journalists following the meeting in the Great Hall of the People.

Two-way trade between China and New Zealand was $10 billion last year. Of that $6b was Chinese exports to New Zealand.

"To double from $10-$20b in terms of two-way trade it's going to happen by New Zealand companies exporting a lot more, not New Zealanders importing a lot more because our population can't support that," Mr Key said.

He believed New Zealand could become a net exporter to China.

Mr Wen suggested New Zealand and Chinese companies could also work together in third markets.

The two-year review of the FTA would be discussed when the two leaders next met for the East Asian Summit in Vietnam later this year.

This morning Mr Key will see off the New Zealand team taking part in the Beijing to Paris Rally.

The 45-day trip crosses 12 countries.

Ten New Zealanders, in five four wheel drive vehicles, will depart from the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing today.

Mr Key will then fly to Shanghai.

(Kate Chapman travelled to China with the help of funding from the Asia New Zealand Foundation)

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