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Saturday, March 20

McCully to visit China and Hong Kong

Foreign Minister Murray McCully leaves on Monday for his first official visit to China, where he will meet Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other senior leaders.

"My visit will provide the opportunity for high-level discussion between China and New Zealand that is critical to maintaining our strong political and economic ties," Mr McCully said.

"New Zealand has a deserved reputation as a trailblazer with China, as the first country to agree to China's WTO accession and the first developed country to sign a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with them.

"Our exports to China grew by around 45 per cent in 2009 - growth that was critical to New Zealand weathering the global recession, and to establishing China as our second-largest trading partner after Australia," Mr McCully said.

While in China Mr McCully will travel to Shanghai to visit the New Zealand Pavilion at Shanghai Expo and meet with the Shanghai city leadership.

He then flies to Hong Kong, where the focus will be on promotional activities for the 2011 Rugby World Cup that are taking place in and around the Hong Kong Sevens tournament.