NZ nothing to fear from Chinese investment – Loo
UPDATE / APRIL 8: Overnight, Prime Minister John Key became one of the first leaders to meet new Chinese premiere President Xi Jinping.
Mr Key says the issue of overseas ownership was raised. He told President Xi the New Zealand government preferred China to invest in milk processing factories rather than farmland. The Chinese leader was receptive to the idea, the PM told media.
"I made it quite clear to him that the purchase of land is sensitive in New Zealand. I don't think it's uniquely sensitive to Chinese purchases of land - I think a lot of New Zealanders hold the view that foreigners shouldn't buy land in New Zealand," Mr Key said.
"I said, look, in my view, it would be best if we funnelled investment more towards the development of processing plants and adding value and creation of jobs rather than the purchase of land."
"He's a good trader. He's good at doing these deals for New Zealand," political commentator Bryce Edwards said of the Prime Minister this morning. However, Mr Key was wobblier with his comments on the North Korea-South Korea stand-off.
The Prime Minister initially called North Korea's recent actions overly provocative. He said New Zealand has a long and proud history of coming to the support of South Korea and taken to the extreme, and without interventions and resolutions to the issues, war is of course possible. Mr Key later moderated his comments, saying if the situation got extreme, New Zealand would consider its position.
APRIL 7: A highly respected member of the Auckland Chinese community says that if New Zealand is going to have a debate about Chinese investment in the country it should be a debate about all overseas investment.
Auckland Chinese Community Centre chairman Arthur Loo told TV One’s Q+A programme that, for example, all of New Zealand’s major banks are foreign-owned, meaning billions of dollars flow out of the country.
He added, " The percentage of farmland that Chinese own is tiny in comparison to Australian, American, United Kingdom and Dutch. So I think the Crafar Farms was an unfortunate point. But I think we're going to get over it. I think the Chinese understand that in an open democratic society that somebody can challenge the process, and it doesn't necessarily represent the view of all New Zealanders."
Mr Loo is currently visiting China as part of Prime Minister John Key’s trade delegation. He told Q+A’s Susan Wood that NZ had nothing more to fear from Chinese investment than it did from investment from any other major country.
“It’s a business relationship, so a business relationship, irrespective of who you are contracting with, there are always ups and downs … China is a major power now, a major trading nation, so we’ve got to make the most of our opportunities. You know, New Zealand doesn’t produce enough of its own capital. You know, we don’t supply our own capital. So the only way we’re going to get capital is through trading and doing business with other countries, and one of those other countries has to be China.”
Mr Loo said the visit was well-time. "We're fortunate to have Prime Minister Key go and visit so soon after President Xi has taken office."
Watch the full interview here.