Most Kiwis positive about Chinese culture - NZ China Council boss

5:58 pm on 26 August 2018

New Zealanders have a positive view of the country's relationship with China, but think China benefits most, a survey shows.

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Chinese New Year celebrations in Wellington Photo: RNZ / Lynda Chanwai-Earle

Released by the New Zealand China Council, the survey shows 43 percent of New Zealanders are positive about the relationship, and just 14 percent negative.

Asked who benefits most from the relationship, 41 percent said China, and a similar number want trade between the countries to increase.

The council's executive director, Stephen Jacobi said the findings were encouraging overall.

"One might have thought that there was a much larger percentage of New Zealanders who harboured reservations about this relationship and that is not the case."

Mr Jacobi said the survey also showed most New Zealanders were positive about Chinese culture, and thought Mandarin was one of the most useful languages that could be taught in schools.

It had only been in the last 10 years that the China-New Zealand relationship had really blossomed, since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement, Mr Jacobi said.

"But it's only in the last five [years] that we've got the numbers in tourism and in education that we see today, once upon a time we helped China to develop."

He said there were more Chinese people in our streets today - tourists, migrants and investors.

The survey also found that 39 percent of New Zealanders would like to see trade between China and New Zealand increase, while 38 percent want it to stay the same and 12 percent would like to see it decrease.

China is New Zealand's biggest trading partner and trade is at an all time high with $26 billion two-way trade, Mr Jacobi said.

Mr Jacobi said the survey showed that New Zealanders were not in favour of unfettered foreign investment in this country but it also indicated some misconceptions about Chinese investment.

"This study showed that most New Zealanders felt that the Chinese were not only the largest investor, which they're not [Australia is], but that they were mostly investing in property in residential housing, which is not the case at all, in fact they're investing in a wide variety of areas."

The New Zealand China Council commissioned Research New Zealand to produce the report and it used an online survey of 1001 New Zealanders aged 18 years and over conducted between 2 and 9 February this year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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