COMMENT: New Zealand is feeling the heat of the Chinese dragon's breath and if we're not careful it could incinerate us.
The invitation for Jacinda Ardern to visit Beijing early this year's been put on ice and all her talk at the end of last year about neither side being able to coordinate their diaries was baloney.
And the showpiece launch of the 2019 China New Zealand Year of Tourism, scheduled for next week at Te Papa, has been postponed by the Chinese with the lame excuse from Wellington officials that there was a change of schedule.
Given the Year was announced two years ago by the Key Government when the Chinese Premier visited here, Beijing's had plenty of time to schedule it in.
Truth is diplomatic relations between Beijing and Wellington have sunk to a new low with the Chinese responding to what they see as us taking sides with the Americans, a perception that's easy to understand with this Government.
It began with New Zealand for the first time taking a public position on the South China Seas dispute last July and earning an official rebuke from Beijing which Winston Peters refused to acknowledge other than to double down on his view.
Then out of the blue last November the Government's chief spy agency the GCSB axed the involvement of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei's involvement with Spark in rolling out the 5G broadband network.
Until a proper explanation's given for the decision, other than it could have risked national security, Ardern's likely to get the cold shoulder from Beijing.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the decision was taken at the behest of the United States to its Five Eyes spy network which we belong to.
And word from the Chinese capital is that retaliation is being worked on.
The turning back of the new Air New Zealand plane over the weekend, which was half way to Shanghai, because it wasn't registered was no coincidence.
The Government shouldn't be surprised if the Chinese at some stage use some sort of documentation to disrupt a line of exports to their country and that we can ill afford.
Two way trade with China has tripled over the past decade to $27billion, and it's in our favour.
With the United States it's less than a third of that and it's in their favour.
We can't afford to let this diplomatic tightrope slacken and that's most certainly the view of a Peters confidante, former Trade Minister in the Bolger Government and recently the chair of Asia 2000 Phillip Burdon.
The mushroom magnate says China has constructively sought to engage with New Zealand for which we should be grateful.
It's utterly ridiculous, Burdon contends, that China has sinister plans to subvert and interfere in our society or in our democratic institutions.