China ambassador, New Zealand foreign minister discuss relationship

REUTERS/Martin Pollard
Director-General of International Economic Affairs Wang Xiaolong speaks during a news conference on the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China March 26, 2020.

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – China’s Ambassador to New Zealand Wang Xiaolong said on Friday that he and New Zealand’s foreign minister had discussed how the two countries could steer bilateral relations to benefit both sides.

Wang, who started as the Chinese ambassador in New Zealand in January, met with Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta on Thursday. The meeting had been arranged prior to the release Wednesday of a United States-New Zealand statement that China described as gravely interfering in its internal affairs.

Wang said in a series of tweets that he had reiterated China’s position on the U.S.-New Zealand joint statement and that it was imperative to keep dialogue going.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late Thursday that the minister and ambassador also exchanged views on regional matters, particularly the South Pacific, and Mahuta had expressed concern at the challenges faced by the region.

“The Minister took the opportunity to restate Aotearoa New Zealand’s concerns regarding the China-Solomon Islands Security Cooperation Agreement and highlighted that discussion of regional security matters was best undertaken through existing regional institutions,” it added.