WELLINGTON, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don McKinnon Thursday launched a new government organization to strengthen ties with China.
Sir Don McKinnon will be chairman of the New Zealand China Council, which forms part of the government's New Zealand Inc. China Strategy to build trade, launched by the Prime Minister in February.
"The council is intended to bring together leading New Zealanders engaged with China from business, the public sector, academia and the community," McKinnon said in a statement.
"Its aim is to co-ordinate public and private sector effort to ensure New Zealand's relationship with China reaches its full potential."
The council would operate as an umbrella organization stretching across the breadth of the relationship.
"New Zealand has good linkages with China across the business, science, education and cultural communities. The council will build on these connections, strengthening New Zealand knowledge of China and contributing to public discussion of the New Zealand China relationship."
The council would also provide the platform for a high level New Zealand-China Partnership Forum.
An inaugural partnership forum event planned for Beijing later this year would coincide with high-level visits to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and China.
"A small establishment board has been formed to launch the council. In the coming months we intend to broaden this group, building membership from the rich reservoir of experience that exists - not least within the New Zealand Chinese community," said McKinnon.
The council's establishment board reportedly included former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, who sits on the board of China Construction Bank, the Prime Minister's chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, Foreign Affairs secretary John Allen, and chair of the New Zealand China Trade Association Tim White.
A search would be launched for an executive director to help run the council.