CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday visited Canterbury University to open the second Confucius Institute in New Zealand.
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (L) gives the tablet to Rod Carr, Vice-Chancellor of University of Canterbury, during the inauguration of Confucius Institute of University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, Nov. 1, 2009. [Xinhua]
Li said during the opening ceremony that cultural and educational cooperation are important parts of relations between China and New Zealand.
China has become the largest source of overseas students and the fastest growing source of international tourists to New Zealand, while people in New Zealand are taking a strong interest in studying the Chinese language and getting acquainted with Chinese culture, he said.
The new Confucius Institute, jointly founded by Canterbury University and China's Huazhong Science and Technology University, represents another achievement of the exchanges and cooperation between the two nations, Li said.
He said he hoped the institute would become a link between the two countries in cultural and educational exchanges.
China and New Zealand have become good friends and partners based on mutual respect and trust, he said.
He said he believed the two countries will further strengthen communications, enhance mutual trust, consolidate their traditional friendship and push their bilateral relations to a newlevel.
In addition to opening the institute on the first day of his three-day visit to New Zealand, the Chinese vice premier also met with Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.
During the meeting, Li said China has attached importance to developing cooperative ties with Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand's South Island. The two sides, the vice premier said, have conducted fruitful exchanges and cooperation in animal husbandry, scientific research and education.
The two sides should deepen their cooperation in such fields as farming and animal husbandry, and expand exchanges and cooperation in trade, science and technology, culture, education and tourism, Li said.
Parker said the opening of the Confucius Institute marks a new development in New Zealand-China cooperation. He said Christchurch would continue to play a positive role in strengthening the two nations' bilateral friendship and cooperation.
Li arrived in Christchurch after an official visit to Australia. He will travel to Papua New Guinea after his visit to New Zealand.