Ukraine invasion: If NZ sanctions China, it will likely sanction us right back - expert

A Chinese political commentator is warning if New Zealand follows the US' push to consider sanctioning China for its alleged involvement in the Ukraine invasion, China would likely sanction us back.

Last week, Reuters reported the US had sounded out close allies about the possibility of imposing new sanctions on China after Washington claimed Beijing was considering providing weapons to Russia. China has denied the claims.

The consultations, still in preliminary stages, hope to gain support from countries, especially those in the Group 7 (G7) to coordinate support for possible sanctions.

During his regular Tuesday morning interview with AM, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins would not say if the Government had been approached by the US over the matter.

"I don't want to get into the details of that but, certainly, it's something that we would have a view on," he told host Melissa Chan-Green. "The war in Ukraine is an illegal war, it's an unjust war, we think that Russia should be pulling out of Ukraine, we fully support the Ukrainian government and we would take a very dim view of any other governments that were seen to be supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

A call to sanction China would bring the age-old juggling act between nurturing New Zealand's all-important trade while voicing concern about severe human rights abuses back to the forefront.

China is our biggest trading partner, while New Zealand and the United States are close strategic partners.  

Chinese political commentator from Taihe Institute Einar Tangen told AM on Wednesday that if New Zealand sanctioned China, China will likely retaliate. 

"If you put sanctions against China and you have no basis for them, they will probably put sanctions against your country," Tangen said.

He said China had taken a "neutral" stance in the war and from Beijing's point of view, the US is creating a disinformation campaign aimed at isolating and containing China.

"We're supposed to stand for justice, rule of law, that means you have a trial before you are convicted and before you are punished… What evidence has the US presented to do this on the basis of creating these types of sanctions and why is it trying to drag other countries into it if it's not willing to produce evidence?" Tangen said.

"If you want to go to war with China because they haven't condemned Russia, why aren't you going to war against India, South Africa, Brazil and many other countries around the world?"

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned the US on Tuesday (local time) to change its "distorted" attitude towards China or "conflict and confrontation" will follow.

Tangen said the US putting pressure on other countries to follow set could take a catastrophic turn.

"This with us or against us attitude could lead us into war."