19 Feb 2020

Jacinda Ardern tries to soothe virus rift with China

10:47 pm on 19 February 2020

The Prime Minister has tried to relieve mounting pressure on China and New Zealand's bilateral relationship at a Chinese New Year Celebration at Parliament.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a Chinese New Year event.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a Chinese New Year event. Photo: RNZ / Charlie Dreaver

China's ambassador to New Zealand, Wu Xi said earlier this week that there were no need for the Government's' coronavirus-related travel and trade restrictions.

Xi said recommendations from the Word Health Organisation are clear cut and it has been reiterated time and again.

"When in prosperity friends know us, and when in adversity we know our friends," she said.

Temporary travel restriction are still in place and are being reviewed every 48 hours.

Tonight, Ardern opened her speech by acknowledging the coronavirus and restrictions.

"It is my sincere hope that the current precautionary restrictions we have in place can be lifted as soon as possible, and that when they do we work closely to normalise commerce and people to people links.

"I am confident that through cooperation we can both bounce back quickly," she said.

Ardern said the virus has highlighted the breadth of connection between the two countries.

"From Chinese students who study in New Zealand, to tourism, and commodity exports affected by the situation on the ground in China itself."

She said the Government has been at pains to ensure decisions are based on the best public health advice available, but also give the community the reassurance it needs.

"Now, more than ever we must stand strong and support one another, call out any discrimination we see, and ensure we see only compassion and unity," she said.

The Prime Minister then invited those attending to stand for a moment of silence as a sign of respect to those who have lost their lives to virus.

Ardern then continued her speech focusing on the Chinese New Year and the year of the rat.

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