Opposition leader: NZ has direct beneficiaries of China's development
By CGTN's Su Yuting
Simon Bridges, leader of New Zealand's main opposition party, is in China for a five-day visit. He shared his views with CGTN on China's rapid development, poverty alleviation program, measures to boost bilateral cooperation and rising protectionism.
Q1: Since the founding of the People's Republic of China 70 years ago, especially over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty, which has been a miracle in China. So, how do you feel about your visit to China? What do you think of China's change and development?
Simon Bridges: My impression is one of amazement. It's always changing. I have been to Shanghai and Beijing before, look, it is very different even from just a few years ago. It keeps developing and there is more infrastructure, and you can feel the prosperity. The last 70 years in China have seen the most remarkable economic transformation in history. It's taken more people out of poverty than ever before. That's a very amazing story and it's the one that I think New Zealanders are related to, because we have direct beneficiaries of it as well, as our trade has grown and we have been able to share that growing prosperity of China.
Q2: How do you think political parties should contribute to national development? How do you evaluate the role of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in leading the country's development?
Simon Bridges: The discussions that I have had with the members of both the CPC and the government is that political parties are incredibly important to the running of a country. The transformation has been so dramatic, New Zealanders have enjoyed a very strong relationship with the CPC, and we have felt the privilege of being able to have many firsts with your party and with your country, whether it's been as a developed country acknowledging free market status, the first free trade agreement, accession to the World Bank, joining up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and joining up to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). These things have been very good between our countries and of course have been driven by the CPC.
Q3: What's your assessment of the bilateral relations between China and New Zealand? What are the specific measures to strengthen cooperation under the framework of the BRI?
Simon Bridges: I think it has been very strong, New Zealand has been a direct beneficiary of what has happened in China. Our trade in about a decade has gone from just a handful of billions of New Zealand dollars to over 30 billions. China is now our biggest trading partner. We quickly recognized the power of what was happening here. I think the most powerful area of cooperation between our two countries is people-to-people, it's when people visit, it's when tourists come, it's when students are learning from both our countries, these people became mutual ambassadors for our countries and increase their well-being and understanding.
Q4: Recently, global instability has been on the rise. Some countries pursue unilateralism and protectionism, while challenges to global peace and development have been increasing. What do you think about the current international situation? How do you evaluate China's initiative of building a community of shared future for mankind?
Simon Bridges: Right now, we do see protectionism and unilateralism. We agree that in many ways we are sharing interests with China on this. As a small country, we never do well out of what might be the right approach, with the biggest and strongest always winning. We stand to gain and do well out of multilateralism, out of the rule of law, out of mutual cooperation, and this is our approach. A very powerful example of this right now is the World Trade Organization (WTO), which China and New Zealand are members of, now we have a situation that we come to see that certainly in early next year, the WTO will not be able to function, because the U.S. is not allowing new judges to be appointed. This is not right and it's not in New Zealand's interests – it needs multilateralism, that needs understanding, that needs what Winston Churchill once said, "jaw-jaw, not war-war."
Q5: What's your opinion about the recent series of illegal and violent incidents in Hong Kong that have gone against the "One Country, Two Systems" policy?
Simon Bridges: "We understand and accept China's sovereignty in Hong Kong. We want to see the peaceful resolution. I think the recent step around the extradition bill, to remove it, that's been very positive."