China's Ambassador to New Zealand has warned us to stop looking into its internal affairs after the Prime Minister singled out their treatment of Uighur people and Hong Kongers as examples of "different perspectives" between the countries.
Wu Xi spoke at the NZ-China Business Summit in Auckland on Monday morning, telling hundreds of delegates that the relationship between the two nations should not be taken for granted.
"Instead of trying to change or remodel the other, we respect each other," she said.
"As comprehensive strategic partners, China and New Zealand should continue to maintain strategic commitment in difficult times and support each other on issues on sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"China has always followed the principle of non-interference in others' internal affairs… Issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet all touch on China's sovereignty and security and these are all China's internal affairs."
Wu's comments came shortly after Jacinda Ardern and Trade Minister David Parker spoke at the event. In her speech, Ardern said the relationship between New Zealand and China was "in good shape", but admitted we "take different perspectives on some issues".
"Given our countries' particular histories, political and legal systems, and world views, it is natural that countries will take different perspectives on some issues," the Prime Minister said.
"The New Zealand Government takes a stance where as representatives of the New Zealand people we think that the public has a direct and a resounding interest in the outcome.
"As you know, this has come to the fore recently around developments like Hong Kong's new security law; the situation of the Uighur people in the Xinjiang province; and Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization.
"This is important to who we are as New Zealanders."
Wu's pointed remarks to New Zealand's leaders come hot on the heels of China's rapidly worsening relationships with Australia, the US and the UK, accelerated by threats to ban Chinese-owned apps such as TikTok, WeChat and Weibo.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week offered to help fleeing Hong Kongers settle there, while UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of "gross and egregious" human rights abuses against its Uighur population.
US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has encouraged other nations in recent weeks to abandon China-owned tech company Huawei and aid programmes they've established with China.