In celebration of the 10th anniversary for the New Zealand Centre at Peking University, academic and government leaders from New Zealand and China gathered together on May 16, 2017. In addition to commemorating the centre’s anniversary of this centre these leaders also emphasized the strong diplomatic relationship between their two countries, noting the fact that New Zealand was the first developed country that China signed a free-trade agreement with in 2008.
Founded in 2007, the New Zealand Centre is now one of the only ventures in which all eight New Zealand universities have all collaborated together. As such, representatives from each of these universities joined together in meeting with the Peking University delegation led by President Lin Jianhua. After expressing appreciation for PKU's partnership, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, asked for advice as to how New Zealand could have more of an impact on PKU faculty and students in the next 10 years looking forward. President Lin proceeded to give a brief overview of PKU's academic trajectory and how it is focusing on seeking to create increased academic opportunities for students and also deepening the level of interdisciplinary research. Prof. McCutcheon affirmed this commitment and also noted that, as there is a greater demand for technical degrees in science and engineering, the “humanities are suffering.” In order to truly promote interdisciplinary research, it is thus essential to discover ways to provide greater support for this general field.
After talking about the detailed work of the centre and the future of its continued cooperation with PKU, the conversation turned to discuss New Zealand politics. Prof. McCutcheon explained the intricacies of their parliamentary, multi-party political system and pointed out that they are soon to have a general election. Based on the strong diplomatic history between the two countries, and within the context of the work of the centre, he reassured President Lin that whoever got elected would maintain a “strong interest in China.”
Following this meeting, these leaders were joined by members of the New Zealand student community, along with the New Zealand Ambassador to China John McKinnon and Hon Paul Goldsmith Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Minister of Science and Innovation, and Minister for Regulatory Reform. In a final ceremony, all those gathered officially commemorated the work that the centre had accomplished over the past 10 years and looked forward to an even more successful future 10 years.
Author: Joshua Pine