Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's hand is firmly on the rudder when it comes to steering New Zealand's foreign policy with China.

"Of course we have multiple players who play an incredibly important role in our foreign policy," she told the China Business Summit this week.

"You will hear from our Minister for Trade and Export Growth just how critical his role is and, of course, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade but ultimately the convention has been and always will be that the Prime Minister is the office that ultimately leads foreign policy direction in any government."