China and New Zealand are enjoying their "best ever" bilateral relationship, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday, while calling for the two Asia-Pacific countries to jointly safeguard and promote regional stability and development in the region.
In the face of the changing international situation, China and New Zealand, which are both important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, share broad common interests in tackling global challenges, Li told visiting New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully.
McCully arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a three-day visit during which he will attend talks on the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic links and trade, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Li said the two countries should take the 40th anniversary as a new starting point to enhance mutual political trust, deepen cooperation, enlarge cultural and educational exchanges, and achieve closer coordination on multilateral levels.
The two countries should establish a model of mutually beneficial and win-win bilateral relationships for countries with different histories, cultures, social systems and development phases, Li said.
McCully said he sees great potential in developing the Sino-New Zealand relationship.
New Zealand attaches great importance to its relationship with China and is ready to enhance communication and cooperation with China on all levels and in all areas to promote the bilateral relationship to new heights, said McCully.
Statistics show that bilateral trade reached $10.54 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 25.6 percent.
In February, New Zealand launched a new strategy, The NZ Inc China Strategy, which gives New Zealand's ties with China a clear direction over the next five years, according to Xinhua.
At the launch of the strategy, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key called for more investment between the two nations and said New Zealand was on track to increase its two-way trade with China to $17 billion by 2015, said Xinhua.
"New Zealand is exceptionally well placed to benefit from China's extraordinary rise," New Zealand Minister of Trade Tim Groser wrote in an article published in Wednesday's New Zealand Herald, a major daily newspaper in the country.
Since the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement took effect on Oct 1, 2008, New Zealand's goods exports to China have increased more than 160 percent, according to Groser.
China is the largest source of foreign students in New Zealand, and the fastest-growing source of foreign visitors.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told McCully during a meeting early on Thursday that China views New Zealand as a good friend and good partner in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Together with New Zealand, China is ready to promote Sino-New Zealand comprehensive cooperation to a higher level," said Yang.