Chris Hipkins meets World Economic Forum's Klaus Schwab, Vietnamese PM ahead of main meeting with China's Xi Jinping

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is preparing for one of the most important meetings in his life - with China's President Xi Jinping.

But the Government back home is pouring cold water over allegations of a fiery meeting between the two countries in March.

It's blaming bailing on ministerial meetings with Australia on scheduling, rather than awkwardness.

On goes the apron, and out comes chef Chippy in China. He was behind a barbecue, seasoning the sizzling seared beef. 

But that was just an appetizer course for small talk central on a big global scale.

Hipkins stopped off at a World Economic Forum meeting dubbed summer Davos - the annual meeting of the New Champions.

He met with the main man, founder Professor Klaus Schwab, and joined a panel on the state of the world. 

"We would like to see a world that is open and outwards looking. There is a trend in some parts of the world to be more inward-looking," Hipkins said during the panel.

The Prime Minister also squeezed in a side meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister. 

It was all in preparation for today's main course - small talk turned big talk.

It's the pinnacle: Hipkins meeting with Xi.

It's taking place as the Government back home hoses down Australian reports of our Foreign Affairs Minister's tense meeting with her Chinese counterpart in March, described as an hour-long haranguing.

"I would say China is very assertive in the way that it conveys its interests," Mahuta said on Tuesday.

National's foreign affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said: "I've read the story and I'm not sure that that's the interpretation that should be entirely put on it. I'm sure there was an exchange and it would have been vigorous both ways."

All eyes are now on whether Hipkins will get a dressing down of his own.

"I think it will be a robust discussion but that's the nature of a mature relationship," Mahuta said. 

"We don't have to recoil from saying the things that need to be said because they're important in terms of New Zealand's interests."

Important things like the war in Ukraine and ongoing disputes over the South China Sea, but the goal was to secure a meeting with President Xi.

"At the end of the day we were able to achieve an invitation for our Prime Minister to visit," Mahuta.

The golden invitation for little New Zealand to bring everything it's got to China. 

Mahuta postponed a meeting with our neighbours and friends Australia scheduled for this week - she won't explicitly say it was moved so as not to upset Beijing. 

"There are range of things to take into account, sequencing our meetings, making sure we are able to have fully the conversation that needs to be had," she said.

"The main thing with Australia is that they are close partners. We want to have a full conversation. The meeting was rescheduled, sorry, the meeting was postponed due to scheduling issues."

Removing every risk for Hipkins to have a clean run with Xi.