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China's Vice President cancels event
ONE News/NZPA[Saturday, June 19, 2010 12:34]

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples welcomes Xi Jinping, Vice President of China, on his visit to NZ at Government House, Auckland
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples welcomes Xi Jinping, Vice President of China, on his visit to NZ at Government House, Auckland
China's Vice President cancelled a visit to Victoria University in Wellington today amidst security fears following yesterday's altercation at parliament.

Green Party leader Russel Norman was yesterday roughed up by Chinese security guards after he waved a Tibet flag as Xi Jinping arrived at parliament.

Jinping was supposed to launch a new institute to help Chinese students at Victoria University however, late last night the decision was made to move those celebrations to his hotel in the city as the university said it did not have the appropriate security for such a high level politician.

Chinese expert Anne-Marie Brady says the Chinese security have succeeded in creating an international incident out of a one man protest.

"It certainly was particularly inappropriate that it was a New Zealand senior politician and on New Zealand Parliamentary grounds," she says.

Norman complained to police but initial inquiries have found there is not enough evidence to substantiate the assault allegation.

"The challenge now is on us to make sure that the next time a Chinese government delegation or any other delegation comes here that it's actually the New Zealand police that are in charge rather than the security personnel of the visiting government," says Norman.

A formal complaint has already been laid with the speaker of the house.

"Its quite disturbing that the national government has taken such a weak response to this incident and I think its very symptomatic of how dependent New Zealand now is on trade with China," says Brady.

The Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith says he will be reviewing the incident and will be talking to all those involved.

He says he was not personally involved in the security arrangements but perhaps next time he will be.

Visit still hailed as a success

Despite the altercation the government is still hailing the visit as an economic success as it is believed to have strengthened trade ties.

Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Phil Goff say it is significant that such a large and powerful delegation had spent time here under the leadership of Xi.

"He is a very big player in China and potentially is the person that will replace President Hu Jintao when he steps down in 2012," Key says.

He says the free-trade deal between the countries, signed off by the previous Labour government, has worked "tremendously well" for both sides and was a blueprint for China.

Key says talks were quite wide-ranging, but mostly based on economics.

"There was mention of human rights. They also talked about the one-China policy in Tibet and Taiwan but broadly this was an economic meeting and you could see that by the fact that he took 100 business leaders with him."

Prime Minister John Key is still set to visit China in early July.

Goff, who met with Xi after the clash with Norman, says New Zealanders have a right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech and the incident "shouldn't have happened".

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says it was not only an appalling way to treat a protesting MP, but counter-productive from the delegation's point of view.

"All it has done is highlight a solitary protestor holding a Tibetan flag. They drew attention to it and made an international incident out of it themselves."

Goff says aside from the distraction, the two countries have developed a strong trade relationship which have grown to the extent where China is now New Zealand's second largest trade partner. He says he also discussed with Xi stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the importance of it being conflict-free.

Also yesterday, ANZ bank in New Zealand signed a cooperation agreement with the China Development Bank (CDB) which will see them working together on projects that assist trade and investment flows between the two countries.
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