TODAY |

Jacinda Ardern's one-day visit to China hoped to ease tensions

The Prime Minister is due to touch down in Beijing overnight for her first state visit.

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Jacinda Ardern will touch down overnight for a quick one-day visit in Beijing Source: 1 NEWS

It's hoped Jacinda Ardern's one-day trip, in which she will meet with President Xi Jinping, will help ease tensions between China and New Zealand.

The short stay is due to Ms Ardern's scheduling conflicts in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, said of the short meeting, "I understand that Prime Minister Ardern herself has made it clear to the world that because of the shooting in Christchurch, she had no choice but to make changes to her schedule in China".

NZ Contemporary China Research Centre's Jason Young said the visit reflects the importance of the relationship between the two countries.

"The fact that it's happening when New Zealand is going through such a national tragedy - I think really attests to the importance that the China relationship has for New Zealand," Mr Young said.

The relationship with New Zealand's largest trading partner has been tested recently over China's growing influence in the pacific; fears of its global building initiative, Belt and Road; human rights concerns; and most recently, with Chinese technology company Huawei’s spying allegations.

Ms Ardern said she hopes to look into the two countries' "regulatory position" during the visit.

"There's no doubt our relationship history is a long one and a complex one. I do think that our regulatory position is something that will be worthwhile us talking through, because yes, I think it has been an issue," she said.

New Zealand China Council's Stephen Jacobi said the meeting will provide an opportunity for Ms Ardern to "explain New Zealand's decision-making".

"We know there are some things that have happened in New Zealand, some decisions we've made that the Chinese are not happy about and this visit provides the opportunity for the Prime Minister to explain New Zealand's decision-making, to explain our independent foreign policy and to explain sometimes, we have to make decisions in our own national interest," Mr Jacobi said.

One of the main aims of the trip here to the Chinese capital is to push forward an upgrade to our free trade deal with China, which was signed in 2008.

"It's very important that we upgrade that agreement - it's 10 years old. It's been a great vehicle for promoting free trade and development, but it needs to be bought into the present day and we need to keep pace with our competitors in the Chinese market," Mr Jacobi said.