Xi Offers Economic Cooperation to Woo New Zealand, Vietnam

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting in Beijing on Tuesday.

BEIJING/JAKARTA — In meetings with the leaders of New Zealand and Vietnam, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed expanded economic cooperation, hinting at his intention to win over the two countries, which are at odds with China over the South Pacific and the South China Sea.

Xi met separately with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Beijing on Tuesday. Hipkins and Chinh were in China to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual summer meeting known as “Summer Davos” which opened in Tianjin, China, on Tuesday.

According to China’s official broadcaster CCTV, Xi urged Hipkins to promote liberalization of trade and investment as partners, instead of viewing each other in a hostile manner. According to the New Zealand government, Hipkins reiterated “the importance of working together to support the international rules-based order.”

New Zealand shares with the United States and other countries concern over China’s growing influence in South Pacific island nations. It is a member of an international framework of support for the island nations.

Hipkins also plans to attend summit talks at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit to be held in Lithuania in July.

In his meeting with the Vietnamese leader, according to CCTV, Xi told Chinh that China would like to import more Vietnamese products and called on him to jointly oppose decoupling and politicizing the economy, science and technology. Chinh also met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Monday. According to announcements by their governments, the two agreed to make efforts to formulate a code of conduct to prevent conflicts from occurring in the South China Sea, where territorial rights are disputed.