Government accused by opposition of destroying relationship with China

The government is being accused by the opposition of destroying New Zealand's valuable relationship with China. 

A major joint tourism launch planned between our countries has been postponed and the Prime Minister's trip to Beijing is still being delayed. 

National is blaming Winston Peters, and Simon Bridges says he's out of control.

"'The government has demonstrated a new kind of leadership that means 'Let Winston Do Whatever the heck he wants'."

Today in parliament a verbal war over the pronunciation of China escalated.

Mr Bridges asked Mr Peters to "tell us about China." Mr Peters shot back "I'll tell you about China but 'Choina'. I'm becoming an expert on China but 'Choina?' I don't know anything about that country."

It kicked off today with a China-New Zealand Tourism ceremony at Te Papa suddenly and quietly put on ice.

Mr Peters said delays can't be helped.

"Sometimes these things are delayed."

But it's not just that - a Prime Ministerial trip to China that was supposed to happen last year still has no start date - that's down to so called 'scheduling problems' on the Chinese Premier's side.

Mr Peters said it's still going ahead.

"She's got an invitation from them, it still stands, and she'll be going there."

This all comes after a year of challenges to China by New Zealand.

Communications giant Huawei halted in its tracks, the GCSB warning of Chinese cyber-attacks, and the government's Defence Policy statement that explicitly names China as a growing military power and threat.

Simon Bridges is zeroing in on just one man.

"Winston Peters is to blame here for a steadily declining relationship between China and New Zealand."

He says the Prime Minister has failed to rein Peters in. 

"She hasn't grasped foreign affairs the way a Prime Minister should have."

But Ms Ardern says she's not playing games.

"We will not play politics with our foreign policy."

The Prime Minister trying to rise above the scrap, but until China sets a date for her visit -  her government's wide open to criticism from the opposition