So I didn't get time to finish all I wanted to do on this post this morning, and promised I'd get back to it this afternoon. Well, the day's classes are over, the housework is done, and so here goes....
I found three articles on Xinhuanet this morning, one in English, and two in Chinese.
The first of the Chinese language articles is simply about the meeting between Wen Jiabao and Helen Clark.
[First a note for New Zealand readers: Helen Clark is referred to simply as "Clark", no title other than Prime Minister, no "Helen". I assume that's because the Chinese rendering of "Clark" (Ke La Ke) fits with the usual Chinese pattern of two- or three- syllable names. I am certain no offence was intended.]
Wen Jiabao meets New Zealand Prime Minister Clark
Xinhuanet Beijing April 7 (reporter Li Shijia) State Council Premier Wen Jiabao held a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Clark on the 7th in the Great Hall of the People. Both sides unanimously agreed to take the signing of the free trade agreement as a turning point and to push Sino-New Zealand all-round friendly and cooperative relations to higher levels.
温家宝说，近年来中新关系发展呈现强劲活力，各领域务实合作不断取得新突破，给两国人民带来实实在在的好 处。特别是此次 如期签署双边自由贸易协定，在中国同发达国家关系中开创了良好的先例。这不仅对两国和两国人民有利，也体现了合作发展、互利共赢的时代潮流，具有重要而深 远的意义。
Wen Jiabao said that in recent years the development of Sino-New Zealand relations had shown powerful vitality, pragmatic cooperation in every field had continuously achieved new breakthroughs, and had truly benefitted the peoples of both countries. Especially the signing on shedule of the bilateral free trade agreement this time sets a good precedent in China's relations with developed countries. This not only benefits the two countries and their peoples, it also embodies the development of cooperation and the modern trend of mutual benefit, and has important and deep significance.
温家宝表示，中新两国在促进亚太地区和平、稳定与繁荣方面拥有广泛的共同利益。自贸协定的签署为深化两国互 利合作开辟了 广阔前景，中新关系面临新的重要发展机遇。中方愿同新方一道，落实好两国领导人年度定期会晤机制，加强各层次磋商，夯实两国关系的政治基础；充分利用自贸 协定的有利条件，提升农、林、畜牧业等传统合作的规模和层次。发挥双方在应对气候变化、节能环保、低碳经济等可持续发展领域的互补优势，培育经贸合作新的 增长点；扩大文化、教育、科技、旅游、司法等领域的合作；密切在重大国际和地区问题上的沟通与协调，共同推动构建和谐亚太。
Wen Jiabao said China and New Zealand have a wide-ranging mutual interest in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The FTA will deepen the two countries mutual cooperation and open vast future prospects, and Sino-New Zealand relations face important opportunities for development. China wishes to implement regular annual meetings between the two countries' leaders, strengthen consultations at every level, solidify the political base of relations between the two countries, and fully exploit the advantageous conditions the FTA provides to raise the range and level of the traditional cooperation in areas such as agriculture, forestry and livestock raising. Bring into play the complimentary advantages of the two sides in such areas as the response to climate change, energy saving and environmental protection, and low-carbon sustainable development, nurture new growth points in trade and economic cooperation; and closely communicate and coordinate on important international and regional affairs and together push for the establishment of an harmonious Asia-Pacific.
Clark said, China is an important partner for cooperation with New Zealand, New Zealand pays close attention at a high, strategic level to the development of its relationship with China, clearly supports the One China Policy, advocates strengthening contacts and cooperation with China, and supports China's positive actions in the international arena.
克拉克说，新中达成了一个全面、互利、高质量的自由贸易协定，这是两国关系史上特 殊而历史性的时刻。协定为深化双边友好合作奠定了更坚实的基础，成为两国关系的又一重要支柱。新政府和工商界强烈支持并将切实执行好该协定。新方愿同中方 保持高层交往，加强在货物和服务贸易、农牧、节能环保、文化、教育等领域的交流与合作，密切在联合国、亚太经合组织中的磋商与合作。
Clark said China and New Zealand have achieved a comprehensive, mutually-beneficial and hig-quality free trade agreement, and in the history of relations between the two countries, this is an exceptional and historic moment. The agreement to deepen friendly cooperation between the two sides has established a stronger foundation and become a new mainstay in ties between the two countries. The New Zealand government and business community intensely support and will earnestly carry out the agreement. New Zealand wants to maintain a high level of contact with China and strengthen exchange and cooperation in such fields as the goods and services trade, agriculture, energy conservation and environmental protection, culture and education, and closely consult and cooperate in the United Nations and APEC.
After the meeting the two prime ministers attended the signing ceremony of the "China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement" where they delivered speeches.
Before the meeting, Wen Jiabao held a welcoming ceremony for Clark's visit to China in the north hall of the Great Hall of the People. Central Vice Chairman of the Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party Liu Xiaofeng, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, Minister of Finance Xie Xuren, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, and Chinese ambassador to New Zealand Zhang Yuanyuan attended the welcome ceremony.
Ugh. I strongly dislike political rhetoric. Still, Helen Clark's was easier to decipher, but I can think of several possible reasons for that.
Anyway, that's only the run-up. What about the actual signing of the agreement? That brings us to the second of this morning's Xinhua articles:
China and New Zealand sign free trade agreement. Eyecatching four “Firsts”
新华网北京４月７日电(记者 常璐 张毅 李诗佳)中国与新西兰７日在北京正式签署双边自由贸易协定，这是中国与发达国家签署的第一个自由贸易协定。
Xinhuanet Beijing 7 April (reporters Chang Lu, Zhang Yi, Li Shijia) On the 7th in Beijing China and New Zealand formally signed a bilateral free trade agreement, the first free trade agreement China has signed with a developed country.
China's State Council Premier Wen Jiabao said in a meeting with visiting New Zealand Prime Minister Clark: "The signing of this agreement is not simply the realisation of the goal of negotiations between China and New Zealand two years ago, but is also New Zealand becoming the first developed country to reach a free trade agreement with China, and is the realisation of the fourth of "The Firsts" in the development of trade with China.
This is followed by a quote from Wen Jiabao which was included in the article above, so I won't repeat it.
New Zealand was the first country to complete bilateral negotiations for China’s entry into the WTO, the first country to recognise China’s status as a full market economy, the first developed country to open negotiations on a free trade zone with China, and the first developed country to complete a free trade agreement with China. These four “firsts” in the history of economic relations with China are especially eye-catching.
The Sino-New Zealand FTA is China's "High degree of standardisation" of free trade agreements reached in accordance with market regulations and bilateral requirements in its dialogue with developed countries. New Zealand is a developed country, and free trade with China in such areas as the goods trade, services, exchange of personal and investment has important strategic significance.
Head of the WTO Research Institute of the University of International Business and Economics Zhang Hanlin said: "From the point of view of long-term political and economic relations, New Zealand fully recognises China's importance is a large developing country, and both sides also recognise each others' economic complementarity and mutual interests."
"Although in politics the two countries have so-called ideological differences, the two sides' common strategic and commercial interests are extremely large compared with differences in understanding of a few questions, and this point truly embodies China's mutually-beneficial, win-win opening up strategy, and serves as a good example of the strengthening of the carrying out of negotiation and signing of bilateral free trade agreements with Western developed countries", said Zhang Hanlin.
Negotiation of the Sino-New Zealand FTA began with the joint announcement by Chairman Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Clark in November 2004, and was the first free trade negotiation China began with a developed country. After three years and fifteen rounds of negotiation, the two sides completed negotiations in December 2007.
Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Wang Xinpei stated, this agreement was an important measure driving opening to the outside world six years after China entered the WTO, and is an important component in the implementation of China's free trade strategy, fully embodying China's confidence and determination in further opening in this new time and from this new starting point, and is also accumulated experience for China's negotiation of free trade agreements with other countries, including developed countries.
In recent years, China and New Zealand have maintained good momentum in the development of their trade relationship. The volume of bilateral trade reached 3700 million US dollars in 2007, a comparative growth rate of 26%. China has already become New Zealand's third largest trading partner, fourth largest export market and second largest source of imports. Cooperation in the service and investment fields is also becoming gradually closer. These have all established a good foundation for the two countries' free trade agreement.
谈及建立自贸区对两国的积极影响，商务部研究院贸易专家梅新育认为，自贸区建立对中国国内资源性产业、加工业的发展毫无疑问会起到 积极作用，中国将在新西兰获得更公正的市场准入待遇以及更有保障的原料供应。而新西兰消费者可以进一步减轻获取中国消费品的支出负担，新西兰农畜等初级产 品可以在快速增长的广阔中国市场上获得更有保障的份额。
Referring to the positive effect on the two countries of establishing a free trade zone, commerce expert from the Ministry of Commerce research institute Mei Xinyu believes the establishment of a free trade zone will certainly have a positive effect on the development of China's domestic natural resources and processing industries, China will get fairer access to the New Zealand market as well as a more guaranteed supply of raw materials. And New Zealand consumers can further lighten the burden of paying for Chinese products, and New Zealand's primary producers can get a more guaranteed slice of the rapidly growing Chinese market.
Looking from the international politics angle, experts point out that New Zealand is a member of the East Asia Leadership Conference, and undertook bilateral free trade arrangements with "The fastest developing, most influential, economic body changing the face of its region in East Asia", having a positive impact on the development of its inclusion in the East Asian region.
CASS Asia-Pacific Institute Vice Director Han Feng said, after continual economic growth, China's elemental influence in the development of East Asia is continuously increasing, and is changing East Asia's original economic model of relying on Japan as the driving force of development. China is an important link in New Zealand's inclusion into East Asia.
After entering the World Trade Organisation, the free trade zone has become a new form and new starting point for China's opening to the world, as well as a new platform for realising mutual benefit with other countries. The report of the 17th Party Congress clearly proposed the "The Strategy of Implementing Free Trade Zones." At present, China is establishing 13 free trade zones with 29 countries and regions of Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, Europe and Africa, covering 1/4 of China's foreign trade.
Mei Xinyu believes the signing of the Sino-New Zealand FTA will set a good example for other Western countries, encouraging more cooperative and mutually-beneficial attitudes in trade issues with China. "From the previously signed free trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand [CER, I assume], this kind of example and encouragement will spur Australia on to faster negotiations for a free trade agreement."
The signing of this FTA is New Zealand's biggest bilateral FTA since the signing with Australia in 1983 of the "Closer Economic Relations Agreement." Clark said the Chinese market was the fastest growing market in the world, and participating in the Chinese market was in New Zealand's national interest. The Sino-New Zealand FTA will give New Zealand's exporters more opportunities to enter the Chinese market.
And the article ends with a quote from Clark that was included in the first article, so I won't bother repeating it.
It's interesting to see the difference between Xinhua's English- and Chinese-language coverage. The English article was pretty much what you'd expect of any newspaper article anywhere, and avoided all the analysis and talk of China's strategic plans for economic opening that we got in Chinese.
But, geez, Wayne, it's not easy to find New Zealand in all of that. It's almost as if, while the New Zealand government is talking about how great the FTA will be for New Zealand, China sees this as only one small step in a far grander plan for China's economic opening to the world and continued development. Can't blame them, though, I mean, the two countries are very, very mismatched in so many ways, the most obvious being size. I mean, NZ's population is what? a quarter of Beijing's? Even if you add the up-to-one-million expat Kiwis (allowing for a bit of overlap due to us expat Kiwis in Beijing), New Zealand still struggles to become anything more than a mere fraction of Beijing's population. And that is comparing my entire country only with the city I live in. As far as the economics go, the two are again wildly different, but in those differences I, like apparently the two governments, can see a lot of complementarity and many areas we can cooperate.
Anyway, save the analysis for people who actually know what they're talking about. 新京报/The Beijing News has its own article:
China and New Zealand sign free trade agreement
China's first free trade agreement with a developed country
TBN's Bao Ying and Li Meiling report:
昨天，中国商务部长陈德铭和新西兰贸易部长菲尔·戈夫在北京人民大会堂，正式签署《中华人民共和国政府和新西兰政 府自由贸易协定》，这是我国与发达国家签署的第一个自由贸易协定。这份协定预计2008年10月1日起生效。温家宝总理与新西兰总理克拉克出席了签字仪式 并分别致辞。
Yesterday, Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming and New Zealand Minister of Trade Phil Goff formally signed the "Government of the People's Republic of China and Government of New Zealand Free Trade Agreement" in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the first free trade agreement to be signed between China and a developed country. This agreement is expected to take effect on 1 October 2008. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and New Zealand Prime Minister Clark attended the signing ceremony and gave speeches.
1, Goods trade: New Zealand will abolish all tariffs on products imported from China by 1 January 2016, 63.6% of the products being zero-tariff from the time the "Agreement" comes into effect; China promises to abolish tariffs on 97.2% of products imported from New Zealand by 1 January 2019, with 24.3% of the products being zero-tariff from the time the "Agreement" is implemented.
2, The service sector: New Zealand will exceed its WTO commitments in 16 areas of the four sectors of commerce, construction, education and the environment; China will exceed its WTO commitments in 15 areas of the four sectors of commerce, the environment, sport and entertainment and transport.
3, Movement of personnel The two sides promise to improve the convenience of travel between the two countries, New Zealand will provide 800 work permits for staff in the five occupations of Traditional Chinese Medicine, chefs of Chinese cuisine, Chinese language teachers, martial arts coaches, and Chinese language tour guides, and will allow 1000 Chinese workers in 20 occupations and turner, welder, practical computer engineer, auditor to move to New Zealand for work.
The two sides also drew up a plan for working holidays. This plan will permit up to 1000 young Chinese to take working holidays in New Zealand each year.
And that's that: Short, sweet and straight to the point. I like the concise, business-like and politico-speak-free style. Kinda short on details, but the details that are there are interesting: I like the 800 NZ work visas being given out to Chinese chefs, language teachers, martial arts coaches, TCM doctors and tour guides- although I think the tour guides would be better swapped for more language teachers to train Kiwis to guide Chinese tourists (I mean, how good a job could a tour guide whose experience and knowledge of New Zealand is no longer or deeper than the the tourists in her charge do?). But those 1000 other visas have me wondering: What use could such people be? Will there be any language requirements attached to said visas? And if so, how good a chance does a Chinese turner or welder have of getting a decent job in New Zealand, given Kiwi employers' well-known reluctance to hire anybody from a country that perhaps might not be quite so English-speaking (or even hire Kiwis whose experience is all overseas)?
But working holidays is a great idea- I wonder if young Kiwis will be eligible for working holiday visas for China, too? That would only be fair.
Still, it does seem to be a little lop-sided, with New Zealand making more and bigger concessions. Not surprising, though, considering Kiwis' legendary inability to do business in China.
Well, that's all I can find in the Chinese media for now. I'm off to see how it's being covered in New Zealand.