Expert warns NZ could face trade implications after China slams Jacinda Ardern's statement with Joe Biden over Xinjiang, Hong Kong

An international relations expert says New Zealand could face trade implications after China expressed outrage over a joint statement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and US President Joe Biden. 

In the joint statement, Ardern and Biden expressed "grave concerns" about human rights violations in Xinjiang and the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong.

But it didn't go down well with China's foreign ministry which slammed the statement on Thursday. 

Spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry Zhao Lijian said the statement smears China and gravely interferes in its internal affairs. 

"The US' remarks do not square with facts, but only expose the US bullying practice of projecting its own image and imposing its own will onto others," Lijian said. 

"I also want to stress that South Pacific Island countries are not the backyard of any country, still less an arena for geo-political games. The region should rather become a big platform for international cooperation. In developing relations and conducting cooperation with PICs, China always treats all countries, big or small, as equals with sincerity, upholds justice while pursuing shared interests, and follows the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith."

Speaking with AM's Melissa Chan-Green on Thursday, Otago University international relations expert Robert Patman said China was clearly stung by the comment. 

"I think the Chinese have been stung by what they see as New Zealand moving away from what Chinese newspapers describe as New Zealand's independent diplomatic stance," Patman said. 

"The Chinese Government is depicting New Zealand as coming under pressure from the United States, buckling in the face of that pressure and agreeing to a joint statement which it says distorts and smears China's position in the Pacific. 

Patman said while New Zealand could face tariffs, China generally takes a more lenient view on Aotearoa compared to our Australian counterparts. 

"It [the statement] could have implications but I think China tends to make a distinction between Australia and New Zealand. Australia is seen as much closer to the United States."

But he said the nation was clearly upset by the statement. 

"I think the other thing that has really stung the Chinese is not actually just that fact that New Zealand has put together this joint statement... There's also some wording in the statement that shows New Zealand's concerns.

"New Zealand's concerns are not the same as the United States, they're not just a reflection or an echo of the United States strategic concerns about China."

The joint statement was released following Ardern's meeting with Biden in the Oval Office where the pair discussed the Pacific, gun control and working with tech companies about extremism. 

Before the meeting went behind closed doors, Ardern was asked if the US would be more present in the Pacific, she said they would be there on the Pacific's terms.

"I think you'll see the United States themselves have been very proactive speaking about their intentions to be in the Pacific on the Pacific's terms," she said.  

"That means hearing that strategic focus many Pacific Island leaders have, where they see their challenges, where they wish to partner and that has shone through in the way the United States has been talking about partnering in the Pacific and I saw that again reflected today."

Ardern said given the contested nature of the Pacific, China was discussed in the meeting where the pair "reflected on the environment we are in". 

The Prime Minister said they had a "good conversation" about Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and denied giving up on trying to get the US to join the CPTPP, but says there are domestic realities the US have to deal with.