17 Apr 2012

Farm sales 'not raised' in talks with Chinese leader

2:09 pm on 17 April 2012

Acting Prime Minister Bill English says the Crafar farms deal was not raised in talks on Monday with a senior Chinese leader.

China's fourth-ranked political leader, Jia Qinglin, is in New Zealand for a four day visit.

He met cabinet ministers at the Beehive on Monday afternoon, before witnessing the signing of an agreement to promote investment between China and New Zealand.

The Green Party says the visit comes at a sensitive time, and will put pressure on the ministers considering whether to approve the sale of the Crafar farms to a Chinese company.

But Mr English rejects that, and says there was no direct discussion about the Crafar farms during the talks.

In an opinion piece published in major New Zealand newspapers on Monday, Mr Jia said China will encourage Chinese companies to invest in New Zealand.

He said China hopes they will be provided with what he calls an enabling policy environment.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman believes this is a reference to the Crafar deal, and says it places enormous pressure on the ministers involved in making the final decision.

He says the question is whether the Government has the courage to say no.

Mr English says the Chinese government knows there is a process for making a decision on the sale and is also aware of public debate about Chinese investment.