20 Feb 2019

Peters firm on criticism of Dame Shipley article in Chinese publication

5:39 pm on 20 February 2019

Winston Peters is standing by his attack on former prime minister Dame Jenny Shipley after an article appeared in China's People's Daily under her byline in support of the country's reforms.

Winston Peters

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the timing of Dame Jenny Shipley's remarks in the publication is "very unwise''. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

But Dame Jenny said she didn't write the piece headlined 'We need to listen to China' and said she did an interview with the newspaper in December for a feature that had already been published.

The National Party has identified Mr Peters and his stance on China as having created tensions in the relationship between China and New Zealand.

The foreign affairs minister went on the attack at Parliament yesterday before it had been revealed Dame Jenny didn't pen the column.

Mr Peters questioned her ability to chair the China Construction Bank New Zealand saying it was "extraordinary that someone who has so little knowledge of banking, for example, should be in the second biggest bank in China''.

Today Mr Peters stood by his criticisms of the former National Party prime minister and added that the timing of Dame Jenny's remarks was "very unwise''.

"They are her words, they're in an op-ed in the China Daily, she needs to explain those words,'' he said.

The prime minister wouldn't be drawn on Mr Peter's comments, saying she hadn't seen the full transcript of what he had said.

Dame Jenny Shipley

Dame Jenny Shipley says she did an interview with the Chinese newspaper in December for a feature that had already been published. Photo: RNZ

Jacinda Ardern found the way Dame Jenny's quotes had been used to be unusual.

"I have to say I was surprised to hear what had happened, it's quite blatantly an interview turned into a column, which I haven't seen before.''

Andrew Little, the minister responsible for Government Communications Security Bureau, said People's Daily wasn't a reliable source of information and Dame Jenny had been "bitten by the experience''.

"The reality is the China People's Daily is a newspaper of the Chinese communist party. It's prone to more propaganda than information or news so that shouldn't be a surprise.''

National Party leader Simon Bridges said Mr Peters' attack on Dame Jenny wasn't in his or the country's best interests.

"He should be focused on himself, look himself in the mirror - we know he likes doing that - and having a real good sense of what he's done that's seen the relationship deteriorate over the last year or so.''

Mr Bridges said Mr Peters was responsible for the country's relationship with China being strained in the first place.

Dame Jenny told RNZ she didn't want to comment on the issue.

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