PM says NZ's relationship with China isn't at risk despite 'challenges'

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 12 February 2019, 8:30AM
Jacinda Ardern and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Asean Summit in November in Singapore. Photo / ASEAN

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand's relationship with China is not at risk despite facing some "challenges".

The Prime Minister made the comments on her regular Tuesday morning slot on Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking Breakfast.

The comments follow Newstalk ZB political editor, Barry Soper saying New Zealand's relationship with China has plummeted to a new low.

The Prime Minister was scheduled to visit China early this year but the invitation has been put on hold.

The superpower also postponed a major tourism promotion which was announced by the Key Government almost two years ago.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Mike Hosking our relationship with China is incredibly important.

However, she acknowledged there are some challenges.

"We are continuing to conduct our diplomacy and place focus on our relationship with China as previous Governments have done, but at the same time facing some challenges but in a way that I think preserves New Zealand's foreign policy."

When asked what those challenges are, Ardern said there were some questions over the Huawei decision.

"That decision actually hasn't been completed yet. We have legislation in New Zealand, it was actually brought in by the last Government, which means that any significant question, for instance, if you're going to expand into a 5G network, has to go through a process."

"That [process] involves the GCSB, it's not about the vendor, it's agnostic to the country but it just goes through a series of checks to ensure that we preserve New Zealand's data and security."

"Spark put in a notice, the GCSB has gone back to them and said: 'We have a couple of things we want you to mitigate', that's where the process is right now," she said.

"But actually, that's incredibly important. I wouldn't want New Zealand to step away from that process. We do have to make sure we protect New Zealand's data and security. So if that is the issue at hand, I think we have to stand by the way we are doing things."

When questioned about why her visit was put on hold, Ardern said the visit is still happening.

"Nothing has changed there. I have had an invitation, we just simply haven't set a date yet."

When asked when she will set a date, she said, "I wouldn't want to speculate".

"That only sets up arbitrary timelines. It's something that officials are still working on."

However, the Prime Minister said she won't be going every year like former Prime Minister John Key.

"I wouldn't want to set that expectation. I wouldn't have an expectation of visiting somewhere everywhere," she said.

Ardern said she would most likely visit Australia every year because they are our "biggest ally".

She said a number of Ministers have visited China in the last year. 

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