PM Chris Hipkins says meeting with Xi Jinping was 'warm and constructive', Chinese leader hails 'strong and robust' relationship with NZ

The Prime Minister met with the Chinese President overnight, with the former saying it was a "warm and constructive" meeting during which several important topics were touched on. 

Chris Hipkins met with Xi Jinping and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Zhao Leji at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday night.

Before the meeting started at about 9pm (NZ time), the pair greeted each other, shook hands and posed for a media photo before heading into the meeting. 

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Xi Jinping.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Xi Jinping. Photo credit: Pool

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes and was mostly focused on trade and economic growth but the Prime Minister said they also had the opportunity to chat about US relations, Ukraine, human rights and Pacific issues. 

Hipkins described New Zealand's relationship with China as a "friendship" and said the meeting was "warm and constructive". 

Meanwhile, Xi told reporters the relationship between both China and New Zealand remained "strong and robust", despite a changing international landscape. 

New Zealand's relationship with China is one of Aotearoa's most significant and wide-ranging and Hipkins said he was pleased to meet Xi and reaffirm the important bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins speaking during his meeting with Xi Jinping.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins speaking during his meeting with Xi Jinping. Photo credit: Pool

"I emphasised the key focus of our visit was to reaffirm our close economic relationship by supporting businesses [to] renew their connections with Chinese counterparts and helping grow new ones to support New Zealand's economic recovery," Hipkins said. 

"We discussed many aspects of our relationship, including our significant economic ties and also people-to-people, cultural connections and areas of direct bilateral cooperation like trade, education, science and innovation, agriculture and tourism."

Hipkins said he also talked about having a stable and prosperous region, reiterating the importance of working together to support the international rules-based order and the role China can play in addressing shared global challenges - such as climate change and the war in Ukraine.

The Prime Minister said the pair also engaged in areas "where our cultures and political systems differ".

"I reiterated we will always advocate for approaches and outcomes that reflect New Zealand's independent foreign policy or interests and values, in a respectful but consistent way," Hipkins said. 

Speaking through a translator at the start of the face-to-face, Xi praised the bilateral relationship between China and New Zealand.

"Our bilateral ties have continued to grow in a sound and steady manner. Amid the changing international landscape, our relationship has remained robust and strong," Xi said. 

"It has brought tangible benefits to the people of our two countries and contributed to regional peace, stability and prosperity. China always views New Zealand as a friend and a partner."

Xi said he treats China's relations with New Zealand with "great importance".

Xi Jinping.
Xi Jinping. Photo credit: Pool

Hipkins also had the opportunity to meet with Zhao, with the pair discussing the importance of ongoing Parliamentary exchanges as a strand of the bilateral relationship. 

The meeting came after Hipkins attended the opening of the World Economic Forum "Annual Meeting of New Champions" in Tianjin. 

He participated in a panel, appearing alongside the leaders of Vietnam, Barbados and World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. 

Hipkins also attended a partnership signing event between four key New Zealand exporters and their Chinese counterparts, helping Kiwi businesses reconnect and deepen relationships in China. 

The Prime Minister will meet with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Wednesday for further substantive discussions.

Hipkins is in China for a week-long trade trip, joined by Kiwi business leaders.