21 Nov 2022

Jacinda Ardern talked to Xi Jinping on human rights, Pacific development, Robertson says

10:31 am on 21 November 2022
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says the prime minister raised concerns about human rights issues and China's relationship with North Korea. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says building a relationship with China is important, but issues with the country need to be put on the table.

Chinese President Xi Jinping says he wants his country's relationship with New Zealand to be taken to a "higher level" in the wake of a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

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  • Grant Robertson told Morning Report that Ardern raised concerns about human rights issues and China's allyship with North Korea, alongside trade and climate change.

    In September, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles ahead of US Vice President Kamala Harris' Seoul visit.

    A few days later, in October, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan. At the time, Ardern said there was an "increasing use of ballistic missiles and testing coming from North Korea … it is a breach of international rules".

    "We would like North Korea to stop firing those missiles, and I'm aware that there's also a topic that came up during the discussions around how does China help continue to see stability and peace in the region," Robertson told Morning Report.

    He also said that New Zealand wanted to build on its relationship with China, "one that's based on mutual respect and understanding of where we do have differences".

    Some of the differences were around human rights issues, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea, Robertson said.

    "Everybody knows that China is a massive player in global affairs but also in the Pacific region and we want to make sure that they are working in partnership with the likes of ourselves and Australia in developing the region."

    He said there was continuous dialogue, and Ardern also signalled the opportunity to visit China to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations with the country.


    Defence Minister Peeni Henare has said New Zealand could help fund more equipment for Ukraine, possibly including weapons.

    However, Robertson said it was not being considered "at this point", and that he was "comfortable with the kind of support that we've been providing".

    The Defence Force has personnel in the UK offering training, logistics and intelligence support to Ukraine.