Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she’s expressed her concern about a Chinese official’s use of a doctored image depicting a soldier slitting an Afghan child's throat.
“It was an unfactual post, and of course that would concern us,” Ardern told reporters this morning.
She said she raised her concern directly with China, but didn’t detail what exactly she’d told China and what its response to her comment was.
It comes as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison demanded China apologise over the "deeply offensive" fake image.
"The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world's eyes," he said.
The image was shared by Zhao Lijian, a spokesman with China’s foreign ministry, on Twitter. The social media site is blocked in the Chinese mainland.
Amid rising tensions between China and Australia, Ardern said New Zealand would manage its own foreign policy.
“We always conduct our relationship in our own interest. We will speak up on issues that we have concerns about,” she said.
Ardern said she hadn’t spoken to Morrison in a few weeks.
Opposition leader Judith Collins said she hadn’t seen Zhao’s tweet, but said New Zealand needed to have an independent policy stance.
“It’s always an issue for us as a small country very much dependent on trade,” Collins said about New Zealand’s ties with Australia, and trading relationship with China.
The tweet comes two weeks after a major report into alleged Australian war crimes accused Australian soldiers of murdering 39 Afghanistan civilians and treating prisoners with cruelty.