China’s investors might think again
Deal would help both countries
FOREIGN investors may rethink their interest in New Zealand if a potential Chinese buyer of the Crafar farms is turned down, a Chinese official says.
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is reconsidering a $210 million offer by Shanghai Pengxin after the High Court over-ruled the original decision to accept the bid.
A group of New Zealand farmers and iwi, led by Sir Michael Fay, sought a judicial review of the OIO’S recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 farms, and the Government’s support for that recommendation.
Prime Minister John Key said the Government would not appeal the High Court decision and the OIO was taking its time to reconsider Shanghai Pengxin’s offer.
The Chinese Embassy spokesman, political counsellor Cheng Lei, said the Crafar farms sale was a purely commercial deal and did not involve the Chinese Government or Embassy.
No officials had discussed the deal with any New Zealand officials, he said.
However, they were closely following the deal, like many New Zealanders.
‘‘Basically, it is in the interests of both our countries and peoples.’’
In Parliament, Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson confirmed the OIO had met officials from the Chinese Embassy to discuss the rules on foreign investment.
Mr Cheng said the Chinese Embassy understood the sensitivity of the Crafar farms deal.
‘‘I know there are some people in your country who are very sensitive to simply the term ‘China’.’’
Perhaps they could not accept the changes in China and the fast-growing and prosperous economy, he said.
However, he did not believe that was a factor in the Crafar decision.
In his personal opinion, declining the Shanghai Pengxin bid meant other potential Chinese investors might make a ‘‘second consideration’’.
Investors from Australia, the United States, Britain and members of the European Union may have the same reservations, he said. ‘‘I think they will take a very cautious stance as for the future investment in your country, but that’s my own viewpoint.’’
The New Zealand and Chinese economies were ‘‘highly complementary’’ and both sides should be doing what they could to promote investment, Mr Cheng said.
‘‘Both the Chinese and New Zealand governments and relevant agencies have responsibilities to render favourable conditions for our two-way economic and investment co-operation.’’
He would not comment on the Green and Labour policies to tighten up foreign investment, but said he believed New Zealand would make the right decision to best suit the public need ‘‘in the long run’’.
‘‘China regards New Zealand as a friend and a close partner in the Asia Pacific region.’’
The Chinese Government now had a ‘‘go-global’’ strategy to promote Chinese investment abroad.
And the Chinese market was open to all foreign investment, as long as companies adhered to Chinese laws. ‘‘We have 1.3 billion people and I don’t think Fonterra can feed every person.
‘‘There is still huge potential for Kiwi enterprises to seek opportunities in China.’’
Mr Cheng’s comments on Crafar farms were part of a briefing which included reading translated excerpts of recent press conferences with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Similar briefings were held in Chinese embassies around the world.
Topics included Chinese opposition to uni-lateral sanctions against Iran, mutual responsibility in the Sino/us relationship and the need for, and progress of, political reform in China.
PURE DEAL: Chinese Embassy spokesperson Cheng Lei said the Crafar Farms sale was a purely commercial deal.