AgResearch is planning to form a joint research centre with China's largest state-owned food company, and says it will protect New Zealand's intellectual property.
A 'collaboration arrangement' was signed earlier this month in Beijing with China's Nutrition and Health Research Institute and the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering of China Agriculture University.
AgResearch sector manager for Food and Fibre Li Day said the agreement was a good move for New Zealand scientists.
"It means we can leverage our international research funding in working together with our partners in China for the benefit of developing science and technology for New Zealand."
Ms Day said New Zealand's work would be protected.
"We will be focussing on basic research and intellectual property will be shared, but protected for our benefits we're not going to share sensitive information with China partners."
The research will be focussed on basic science through training students.
"The output of the research is really towards a joint scientific publication, which is on the government's agenda to increase our New Zealand science exposure at an international level.
"It is a mutual exchange so where the opportunity arises scientists will get the opportunity to be seconded to China as well as Chinese scientists being seconded into New Zealand."
Some of the key research areas where AgResearch expects to work closely with China are food science, processing, food assurance and safety, and human nutrition.
Ms Day said the agreement would be finalised once funding from the New Zealand and Chinese government was approved.