New Zealand-based Chinese ambassador Wu Xi warned today that the Government's decision to ban travellers from China amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak will have an impact on trade, tourism and education between the two nations.
Yesterday, the Government announced it is blocking travellers who have been through mainland China to try and prevent coronavirus from entering the country.
Kiwis have also been warned not to visit China at all, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade raising its travel advice to the highest level - "do not travel".
The announcement follows a similar one from Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison the day before.
However, Ms Wu today told 1 NEWS the World Health Organisation, or WHO, had clear and professional recommendations that didn't put such limits on trade and travel.
"I think as members of WHO, we should follow their instructions or follow the recommendations of WHO and work together to fight against the spread of the virus," she said, adding that it is the best organisation to deal with global health emergencies.
"Of course, the simplest way is to stop everything, but I think we live in a globalised world and we need to understand that a lot of people rely on travel and trade for a living so therefore I think this is a real test for every government for its governance capacity.
"On one hand, we need to find effective ways to control and prevent the epidemic, but on the other hand we need to minimise its impact on the economy."
When asked if she disagreed with the Government's decision, Ms Wu said she had taken note of the Government's announcement to close the borders for 14 days, reassessing every 48 hours, but said she believed we should be following professional advice from WHO.
"We need to work together at this difficult time and I'm sure by working together we are able to defeat the virus and we are able to win the war of the prevention and control of the epidemic."
Ms Wu said for New Zealand's economy, there will be an impact on bilateral trade and bilateral people-to-people exchanges due to restrictions on travel, as well as fewer tourists and international students from China.
Last year, New Zealand and China's bilateral trade was NZ$30 billion - making China New Zealand's largest trading partner - but Ms Wu said with limitations on travel and transportation there will be impact. China is a particularly big buyer of New Zealand dairy, wool, seafood and forestry products.
As well, last year New Zealand saw about 450,000 Chinese tourists visit, as well as almost 40,000 Chinese students come here. Because of the current restrictions, Ms Wu said she envisages those numbers "dropping dramatically".
She wouldn't speculate on what those numbers could be, but added "as we can see, there will be a severe impact or tourism, on education and on trade and also I believe on people's sentiment".
"All these will have an impact, but in the mid- to long-term, we wait and see."
New Zealand and China have a food relationship, Ms Wu also said, adding that the Asian nation was our biggest trade partner. So she hopes the friendly feelings will be maintained from both sides she added.
"We have done a lot, last year in particular, to promote people-to-people exchanges," she said.
"I think people's sentiment are always complicated. They will be impacted one way or the other, but I hope through our efforts we will keep those kind of friendly feelings towards each other because we are friends and we should treat each other as friends."