Christchurch strengthens ties with Australia, the United States, South Korea and China

A China Southern Airlines Boeing 787 landed in Christchurch in 2014. Before Covid, the airline flew direct to Christchurch from Guangzhou.

The press

A China Southern Airlines Boeing 787 landed in Christchurch in 2014. Before Covid, the airline flew direct to Christchurch from Guangzhou.

Christchurch wants to strengthen its ties with Australia, the United States, South Korea and China – but it may take some time before tangible benefits are reaped.

These benefits could include new direct flights, greater opportunities for Canterbury exporters and increased numbers of international students and migrant workers.

Christchurch City Council recently voted to strengthen its international relations by pursuing partnerships with four different countries.

The council says this is a change from how things were historically done with sister cities. These relationships tended to be person-to-person relationships and could not be used for wider benefits.

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With these new partnerships, the council promises: “measurable and significant benefits over time”.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel pictured during a 2015 visit to Wuhan, China, a sister city of Christchurch.

Thing

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel pictured during a 2015 visit to Wuhan, China, a sister city of Christchurch.

In three of the chosen locations – Australia, US West Coast and South Korea – Christchurch has existing sister cities of Adelaide, Seattle and Songpa-Gu, respectively.

China is the fourth and final country where a partnership will be pursued.

But, instead of focusing on Christchurch’s two existing sister cities in the north of the country, efforts will focus on the southern province of Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong.

In Guangdong, the council already has a “friendly city agreement” with the city of Shenzhen and ties with Guangzhou, said the council’s civic and international relations officer Matt Nichols.

“These ties and the high level of general interest city-wide across Guangdong Province informed the decision to prioritize it,” he said.

Nichols said action plans with clear targets for each site were being developed and would be completed by the end of the year.

It is unclear how long it will be before Christchurch begins to see tangible benefits.

Nichols said they were rarely immediate. “A period of revitalizing relationships and building trust will be an important first step.”

The city council worked with several city and state agencies to decide which countries to seek out for partnerships.

Christchurch City Council chaired a group of city and state agencies who decided on the four countries to seek out for international partnerships.

Peter Meecham / Stuff

Christchurch City Council chaired a group of city and state agencies who decided on the four countries to seek out for international partnerships.

Agencies included ChristchurchNZ; Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce; the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

According to board documents, the choice of the latter four regions required “significant negotiation” within the group, as some locations were better suited to other sectors than others.

For example, groups representing the international education sector saw India as a valued partner, but the larger group felt that this would not benefit the city as a whole at this time.

Justin Watson, aviation and commercial director of Christchurch Airport, said the chosen partnerships fit well with the airport’s priority markets.

Before the pandemic, the airport had direct flight connections to Guangdong province (via Guangzhou) and to South Korea (via Seoul). American Airlines also announced plans for direct flights between Christchurch and Los Angeles in late 2019.

Before the pandemic, Christchurch Airport had direct flight connections to Guangdong Province, South Korea and Los Angeles.

CIAL/provided

Before the pandemic, Christchurch Airport had direct flight connections to Guangdong Province, South Korea and Los Angeles.

The airport has been focused on rebuilding those roads, Watson said, adding ongoing conversations are encouraging.

ChristchurchNZ chief executive Ali Adams said the partnerships were designed to have long-term benefits.

“It’s important that as a small city with limited resources, we focus our efforts on areas where we can collectively have the most impact,” she said, adding that she was “very up to date. comfortable” with the four locations selected.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said it remained interested in development and implementation.

“Staff from some of our bilateral divisions and relevant offshore positions have joined the workshops and we will continue to offer our support as needed,” the spokesperson said.

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