Chinese investment was needed to help the New Zealand economy to grow and to create jobs, Prime Minister John Key said ahead of his upcoming visit to China scheduled on April 6.
New Zealand has "a clear message for China: your investment is welcome," Key said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua at Parliament Building in Wellington.
Key's comments came just months after two Chinese purchases -- the sale of the 16 Crafar dairy farms to Shanghai Pengxin Group and white goods giant Haier's takeover of New Zealand's iconic Fisher & Paykel Appliances -- stirred controversy over the foreign ownership of New Zealand assets.
The message is pretty clear: we welcome your investment in New Zealand. We need foreign investment to grow. We think those kinds of investments and partnerships can make a big difference towards opening up markets like China for New Zealand," Key said.
He cited Shanghai-based Bright Dairy's 2010 purchase of a 51- percent stake in the Synlait Milk dairy processing firm as a positive example of Chinese investment.
"If you take Bright and their investment in Synlait, what you' ve seen is them not only stabilizing a company that was otherwise in a little bit of trouble, but also opening up the infant baby formula market to that company, and that's been very good in terms of growth opportunities and ...it created jobs," he said.
Since its takeover of Fisher & Paykel last year, Haier has been investing heavily in research and development in New Zealand, which was also very good for the New Zealand economy, according to the prime minister.
"You are always going to get some pushback when it comes to foreign investment, whether it comes from China or any other part of the world. Some people in New Zealand will just oppose to foreign investment, but I think that's true right around the world. "
The overwhelming number of New Zealanders generally supported foreign investment, Key stressed, adding the New Zealand government tried to be very transparent with regard to foreign investment.
"We are totally color blind. In the end we apply the same rules whether it's a Chinese investor or a British investor," he said.
Key will lead one of the country's largest ever delegations abroad on his third trip to China since becoming prime minister in 2008.
His visit to China will also mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and the fifth anniversary of the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
The seven-day visit from April 6 will include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the annual Bo'ao Forum for Asia conference on April 7.
Key will also be officially welcomed by Premier Li Keqiang at Beijing's Great Hall of the People and visit the cities of Guangzhou and Shanghai.