‘We need to stop this panic’ over Prime Minister not visiting Beijing, says advisor

An economist says there is no need to panic about Jacinda Ardern being unable to secure a visit to China, but New Zealand does need to "get back to basics" with its foreign policy.

Rodney Jones of Wigram Capital Advisors told Q+A's Corin Dann: "We need to stop this panic about the Prime Minister not visiting Beijing. If you look at the People’s Daily there is very few photos these days of Xi Jinping meeting foreign leaders. They’ve got big domestic issues to deal with, he doesn’t spend the time with small countries that he used to.”

Ms Ardern has an invite to Beijing, but has been unable to secure a date due to "scheduling" issues, while National leader Simon Bridges says she and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters have been mishandling the relationship with the country's largest trading partner. 

Mr Jones said Ms Ardern should wait when it comes to a China visit.

"I wouldn’t judge her on that but I would wait. Let’s get our ducks in a line and work out exactly what the narrative is and what our issues are with China, what’s the strengths of the relationship, what are things we have issues with and take it forward. There’s not a rush."

He does say though that we need to get back to basics on foreign policy: "We’ve been a bit loose and goosey. We just need to get back to basics."

He says the economic relationship is strong and really dynamic, but China has slowed and that is why there are seeing fewer school students, it’s harder to get foreign exchange out of China and tourism has had a surge but goes in stops and starts.

Mr Jones says the political relationship may need some work.

"If you look at who had the fastest growth in exports to China last year, it was Canada, Malaysia, Australia,  all of whom have had political problems with China in the last 12 months. We are seeing very clearly a separation of economics and politics.

Mr Jones lived in Beijing until the end of last year and still has an office in Hong Kong - he says China has changed under Xi.

"China’s changed a lot and there’s a reset too globally on how do we deal with a rising China, and a more authoritarian China."

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Rodney Jones of Wigram Capital Advisors told Q+A’s Corin Dann, NZ needs to get back to basics on foreign policy, however. Source: Q+A

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