Key signs deals in China

John Key and Li Keqiang (Getty)
John Key and Li Keqiang (Getty)

John Key has met with the second most powerful figure in China, Premier Li Keqiang, as tension persists over New Zealand's involvement in a South China Sea military exercise.

Five agreements have been signed by the pair including agriculture, education and trade promotion. Li Keqiang will likely bring up the South China Sea issue, and why a New Zealand Air Force plane is playing war games there.

Key signs deals in China

(Lloyd Burr)

Mr Key has been warned by China's state media not to talk about tensions over disputed islands in the sea. Victoria University Strategic Studies Professor Robert Ayson says China wants us to take a neutral line.

"They want us to reduce the degree to which we're getting closer to the US on some of these positions. And I think that's not necessarily going to happen, I think we will continue to say these things."

Key signs deals in China

(Lloyd Burr)

But Robert Ayson doesn't expect the military exercise to impact on trade talks.

One thing that will likely not be talked about is John Key's mission to get pandas from China for New Zealand zoos.

It once was the priority for his visits there but he has put it on the back burner.

Newshub.

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