Key hopes hobnobbing helps

HAMISH RUTHERFORD IN SHANGHAI
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014

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OPINION: If John Key’s approval rating ever does start to dip, he may lament that international leaders don’t get to vote. During a quiet moment in the trip to Beijing, a senior Chinese official wondered out loud whether his recent strong showing in the polls may have been due to his visit to China.

No poll has been published covering the period since Key set foot in China, but the extent to which its leadership is lapping up his visit must make the dramas surrounding Judith Collins and Hekia Parata seem like a distraction for voters. Or at least, he must hope so.

Yesterday morning he woke up to reports in Chinese state media commenting that he had remarkable chopstick skills, following his dinner with President Xi Jinping. When the president talks, the Chinese listen, including business leaders. Xi Jinping’s announcement that he wants to see trade with New Zealand to increase by two-thirds to $30 billion over the next seven years is more an instruction than an aspiration.

As the media asked questions about Oravida or kohanga reo, which threaten two of his senior colleagues, Key simply bats them away, saying that while Labour focuses on the minutiae of politics, he is up here opening doors which will create jobs. If you can open doors in China, you can probably open a lot of them.

While  Key left mainland China last night, the hobnobbing with international elite is far from over, with a meeting with the chief executive of Hong Kong today, before jetting off to The Hague where he will dine with the Dutch prime minister, share a drink with David Cameron, and have at least a brief chat with golfing buddy Barack Obama.

None of them can personally turn their bromance with the prime minister into an election winner for him, but with the polls showing his approval remained high before he set off,  Key seems willing to bet they are helping.


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- Fairfax Media

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