Why Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern isn't chalking up meeting with China's President Xi Jinping as a win

The Prime Minister has sat down with the President of China for the first time in more than three years.

But Jacinda Ardern isn't chalking it up as a win.

It wasn't the only massive meeting she had on Friday - she was also in a hastily-arranged high-powered meeting to condemn North Korea's ballistic missile launches.

China - our most important economic relationship, and our most complicated diplomatic relationship.

"Mr President, I am very pleased to meet here today face-to-face," Ardern told China's President Xi Jinping.

Jinping told our Prime Minister he considered New Zealand an important friend.

"We have long recognised that we have different systems and different world views," Ardern said.

But just as Ardern was impressing upon Xi the importance of world stability, the media were shunted out by his security. Ardern said she didn't think it was a power move.

"No I don't think so - it's not like the leaders sit there and give instructions to move people around," she said.

Ardern is among the revolving doors of world leaders who came and went while Xi stayed in the room.

However she did manage to squeeze in some extra time, stretching a scheduled 20 minutes with the Chinese President into almost an hour.

"The bulk of the meeting was spent talking about recent developments, issues of the day," Ardern said.

And she said the meeting helped mature the relationship - but didn't chalk it up as a win.

"It was a constructive conversation - that's what I hoped for and that's what it was," Ardern explained.

"I don't think I'd use that language with any bilateral... I take heart that we've had an open conversation, we've spoken openly and frankly."

And she learned from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mistake and didn't reveal what happened behind closed doors.

"Not for me to share another leader's views," Ardern said.

The leaders did agree on a trade mission to China - the dates just need to be worked out.

But a quick sit down with US Vice-President Kamala Harris was derailed when news broke of North Korea's launch of long-range nuclear weapons. A high-powered meeting quickly convened.

"We strongly condemn these actions and again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful destabilising acts," Harris said.

The meeting was a purposeful show of strength by the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, which condemned North Korea's actions.

A trip and a day, book-ended by mega-meetings for our Prime Minister - some of them unplanned.

The Prime Minister isn't leaving this trip with much tangible - besides getting Kiwis more Vietnamese limes and agreeing on a trade mission at some point.

But this trip wasn't about massive announcements, it was about massive meetings - world leaders catching up face-to-face for the first time in three years to discuss an increasingly complex world.