John Key has proposed sending the All Blacks to China in a bid to boost links between the two countries.

The Prime Minister made the comment after he was greeted with a haka by a rugby team at the China Agriculture University (CAU), where rugby is a popular sport.

He said he believed the All Blacks should visit at some point.

"It's the same thing we see happen in a number of other countries. They play exhibition games and I know the Rugby Football Union ... are thinking a lot about this market."


Mr Key said the CAU rugby team should travel to New Zealand to play universities. "I think those guys were good. They were big and strong and young and fit."

Mr Key is a fan of sports diplomacy to build links between countries.

He took former All Blacks Michael Jones and Vai'iga Tuigamala on a trip around the Pacific in 2009 and former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming accompanied him to India.

And the NZRFU has shown it's not hesitant to put on All Blacks exhibition games in new markets, particularly if those matches offer the potential of picking up new fans.

In 2008 and 2010, the All Blacks played Australia in Bledisloe Cup fixtures in Hong Kong. The Rugby Union is also exploring the idea of playing a match in America.