Christopher Luxon publicly backs Chris Hipkins' work in China

Christopher Luxon has offered rare praise for the Prime Minister, saying his work in China looks "pretty good".

Being the Opposition leader, Luxon is notoriously critical of Chris Hipkins and his Government - but on Wednesday he gave the Prime Minister some credit for his trade delegation to Beijing.

Luxon said he concurred with Hipkins' stance to not label Chinese President Xi Jinping a "dictator" like the US' Joe Biden. 

"I do agree with Chris Hipkins. I'd say 'no' and I'd say, ultimately, it's a decision for the Chinese people," Luxon told AM. "I think successive Prime Ministers have actually managed that relationship incredibly well, it's a long-standing relationship of over 50 years, we have good, open, consistent conversations about the areas of common interest - a lot around trade - but we also have successive Prime Ministers that have raised and stood up for our values at the same time."

He admitted the Prime Minister's efforts in Beijing looked "pretty good".

"I fully support what Chris Hipkins is doing in China," Luxon said. "I think it's very appropriate that a Prime Minister is out there as the custodian of that relationship… so that you can actually have open and honest conversations about areas of common interest but, also, collaboration.   

Overnight, Hipkins said he had a "warm and constructive" meeting with Xi - during which the pair discussed a range of topics including trade, human rights and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Chris Hipkins and Xi Jinping.
Chris Hipkins and Xi Jinping. Photo credit: Pool

Both leaders reflected on the 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and focussed on Wellington and Beijing's significant economic and cultural ties. 

Hipkins also said he didn't shy away from some of the sticky issues facing the Asia-Pacific region.