Clare Fearnley, New Zealand Ambassador to China, first came to the country in the 1980s to work as a teacher in Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province. During her 40 years here, she has not only become more attached to China, but has also experienced the changes in the country.
Clare Fearnley (Photo/haiwainet.cn)
The infrastructure in China has improved a lot, said Fearnley, pointing out that it only takes about four hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai on high-speed trains when it used to take about 10 hours.
The living standards of the Chinese people have also improved and consumers now have more choices when buying products, she added.
Mandarin is one of the most popular languages in New Zealand, the ambassador said. Since 2014, the non-governmental organizations in the country have held an event every year dedicated to Chinese songs, food, kung fu and so on, attracting many New Zealanders.
Fearnley believes that learning Mandarin helps the people in New Zealand to understand China, an important country in the Pacific region, and the values of the Chinese people.
According to Fearnley, around 50 direct flights are operated between New Zealand and China every week. While the total consumption of Chinese tourists in New Zealand continues to increase, about 140,000 New Zealanders travel to China every year, which Fearnley thinks is an amazing figure considering the population of the country.
The two countries have a long history of cooperation. The renowned kiwi fruit of New Zealand was originally introduced from China in 1904, said Fearnley. She added that many kiwi varieties have been developed by scientists from both countries and a joint laboratory has opened in southwest China’s Sichuan province.
New Zealand was the first developed country to sign and implement a free trade agreement with China and the two countries will sign an upgraded agreement in 2020.
The upgraded version will incorporate e-commerce and will further benefit the two peoples. While many Chinese consumers could have access to the milk and fresh fruits from New Zealand, the New Zealanders can enjoy more quality Chinese products such as electronic products and silk.