(TibetanReview.net, Jun19’23) – Visiting New Zealand at the rather inopportune moment ahead of its Prime Minister Chris Hipkins leading a business delegation to China in efforts to revive the country’s economy, Sikyong, or executive head, Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration has expressed disappointment at not being able to meet with the country’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Hipkins has, ahead of his visit, explained how important China is to his country’s economic and other interests.
“But this is my first visit to this country, so I am also making an assessment on how responsive the New Zealand government is to the cries of help from Tibetans, the odt.co.nz Jun 18 quoted Tsering as saying.
“I understand the prime minister of New Zealand is leading a trade delegation to China at the end of this month, so my visit has become much more sensitive it seems.”
Despite being unable to meet any government ministers during his three-day visit, Tsering did attend an afternoon lunch hosted by National lawmaker Simon O’Connor in Wellington on Jun 16. O’Connor is also a co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.
Tsering has since arrived in Sydney, Australia, on Jun 17. He is to address the National Press Club (NPC) in Canberra on Jun 20, apart from being busy in numerous other engagements.
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Meanwhile, in a statement to news agency RNZ, the New Zealand Foreign Ministry said Tsering did not request a meeting with Mahuta, according to the report.
“The New Zealand government does not recognise the Central Tibetan Administration and accepts China’s sovereignty over Tibet,” the ministry has said.
“We support dialogue between the government of China and representatives of all Tibetan communities, with the aim of finding enduring solutions to social, freedom of religion and economic issues in the region.”
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Leading a 29-strong business delegation, Prime Minister Hipkins is to leave for China on Jun 25, meet with its President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang, and chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhao Leji. He will visit Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai before returning home on Jun 30.
“China represents nearly a quarter of all our exports, was our second-largest source of tourists pre-Covid and is a significant source of international students, so it’s a critical part of our economic recovery,” nzherald.co.nz Jun 19 quoted Hipkins as saying.
Events include a sustainability forum, gala dinner, giving a keynote address at Peking University, and attending the World Economic Forum “annual meeting of new champions”.
“China represents nearly a quarter of all our exports, was our second-largest source of tourists pre-Covid and is a significant source of international students, so it’s a critical part of our economic recovery,” Hipkins has said.
“This is a particularly timely opportunity to promote New Zealand’s tourism industry with direct airline connectivity out of China expected to return to around 75% of pre-Covid levels in the June quarter of 2023.”
He has said he planned to discuss climate change, economic stability, regional and global security, human rights, and the war in Ukraine in his meetings with officials while also looking to expand and diversify the breadth of New Zealand’s export offering.