A New Zealand government minister has criticised moves by China's lawyer in French Polynesia to try to silence a local woman in a dispute with Beijing diplomats.
This came as the diplomats in Tahiti refused to vacate the consulate building she owns after their lease expired at the end of February.
As a result, Eva Bitton launched a social media campaign and an online petition but said she had been asked by the lawyer of the Chinese consulate in writing to stop making public accusations on Facebook and in the media.
In a tweet that was later deleted, Aupito William Sio, who is the minister of Pacific peoples and the associate justice minister, said such behaviour was disgraceful.
Mrs Bitton said the Chinese diplomats wanted to buy the property despite it not being for sale.
The diplomats were free to lodge a complaint about any alleged defamation, she said, adding that she did not live in a communist country.
The French High Commission told her to accede to China's wishes because no court would accept a case against the diplomats, Mrs Bitton said.
The Chinese consulate and its lawyer have not said why they ignored the termination notice sent to it last year.