3 Jun 2022

Government downplays discussion with China's ambassador over joint NZ/US statement

2:32 pm on 3 June 2022

The government is downplaying a conversation with China's ambassador about New Zealand's joint statement with the US this week.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta met with the Chinese ambassador yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

China issued a severe reprimand after both countries issued a joint statement highlighting Beijing's influence in the Pacific.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta met with Chinese Ambassador Wang Xiaolong yesterday - a meeting she described as "general" in nature.

Wang has since tweeted, saying the US statement was raised with her.

In a series of tweets Wang said that he had reiterated China's position on the US-New Zealand joint statement and that it was imperative to keep dialogue going.

Mahuta told RNZ the pair discussed a "wide range of issues" and had had no "substantive" conversations about any one of them.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late Thursday that the minister and ambassador also exchanged views on regional matters, particularly the South Pacific, and Mahuta had expressed concern at the challenges faced by the region.

"The Minister took the opportunity to restate Aotearoa New Zealand's concerns regarding the China-Solomon Islands Security Cooperation Agreement and highlighted that discussion of regional security matters was best undertaken through existing regional institutions," it added.

- RNZ / Reuters

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