Ardern is meeting President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok. This will be their first meeting since 2019.
Ardern told New Zealand media that there was agreement and disagreement between China and New Zealand and that both would be resolved.
“We’re going to be very clear about where we diverge, and certainly that includes human rights issues and some of the geostrategic tensions that we’ve seen in our region,” Ardern said.
“We don’t say anything publicly that we haven’t said in private,” he said.
New Zealand has long been seen as a moderate, absent voice on China in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance.
However, New Zealand’s defenses and China’s growing presence in the South Pacific have been sharpened this year after China and the Solomon Islands signed a defense pact.
In June, China criticized statements by New Zealand and the United States expressing “deep concern” over human rights in China’s western Xinjiang region and the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong.
But while relations between Australia and China have soured, relations between New Zealand and China have remained largely cordial.
New Zealand exports about NZ$20 billion ($12.31 billion) worth of goods to China annually.
Robert Bateman, professor of international relations at the University of Otago, said New Zealand maintains a more nuanced relationship with China than its Five Eye partners, but the relationship lacks the dynamics of the 2008-2016 period.
“New Zealand is very happy to have a good economic relationship with China that is mutually beneficial, but it will not accept the erosion of its core values and interests in return,” Bateman said.
“Web specialist. Pop culture buff. Thinker. Foodaholic. Travel maven. Avid coffee junkie. Amateur tv advocate.”