Wayne Mapp, New Zealand Minister of Defense and of Research, Science and Technology, left for Beijing on Monday for a visit to China on defense and science issues.
"China's influence in Asia, particularly in the Pacific region, is of growing importance," Mapp said in a statement on Monday.
"China is central to our economic future. It also has an essential role in the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific region," said the minister.
While in Beijing, Mapp will have talks with Chinese Minister of Defense Liang Guanglie and Vice-Minister of Science and Technology Cao Jianlin.
Mapp said the research, science and technology relationship with China, now the world's second-largest investor in research and development, is one of New Zealand's most important and enduring relationships in Asia.
(Xinhua News Agency September 21, 2009)