The Chinese don't want New Zealand land, says former prime minister Dame Jenny Shipley.
She runs a consultancy for businesses dealing with China and is a director of the China Construction Bank.
"The Chinese don't want land, the Chinese want the resources and protein," she said on TV One's Q&A programme yesterday.
"Their middle class is exploding and the one thing the Chinese Government and Chinese companies worry about is disappointing the middle class. So they have to get good quality food and they have to keep providing steel and copper and coal and oil to fuel their economy."
Interviewer Paul Holmes said to Dame Jenny: "We seem to have a thing about Chinese, don't we?"
She replied: "Well, we use that word but there are very good Chinese families in New Zealand."
Asked whether there were great opportunities to trade with China long-term, she said: "Yes, if we don't keep insulting them ...
"If we don't get over this, we should get used to wearing Jandals."
Dame Jenny said she wasn't familiar with the latest Chinese bid to buy the Crafar farms but she knew the Chinese wanted long-term contracts when they did business in other countries.
"If you ask why they are doing that, it is their anxiety over the long term," she said.
"They'll come in and say 'I don't want a three-year contract, I want a 40-year contract' ... and the reason they're saying 40 is they've got 1.3 billion people and if they run amok and the middle class implodes, that's a big problem for the Chinese."