China has issued a stern rebuke to New Zealand, urging it to "stop making wrong statements" on the issue of Taiwan's membership of the World Health Organisation or risk damaging the two nations' relationship.
The comments came from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who told a news conference in Beijing that New Zealand's stance was a violation of the "one China'" policy, which he said is the political foundation of our bilateral relationship.
"We express our strong dissatisfaction with the statements and resolutely oppose it, and we have already made stern representations with New Zealand," Zhao said.
"China urges New Zealand to strictly abide by the 'one China' principle and immediately stop making wrong statements on Taiwan, to avoid damaging our bilateral relationship."
The spokesman's comments come after Foreign Minister Winston Peters spoke out in support of Taiwan and bit back at China's ambassador to New Zealand after he criticised the move.
Expressing a "personal position" last week, Peters told reporters: "In the interests on international health you want every country in an international organisation designed to improve the world's health. It's just logic."
The Chinese Embassy was highly critical of Peters' personal opinion, saying in a statement: "There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China".
"We hope New Zealand will continue to abide by this principle, properly handle issues related to Taiwan and uphold the sound development of China-NZ relations with concrete actions."
Asked about the comments, Peters then urged the ambassador to "listen to your master", saying that this is not the message that China's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, was sending – "[he] assured me that China does not behave that way".
Peters later confirmed it was the Government's position to allow Taiwan a seat at the table.
"They have got something to teach the rest of the world – every country, including China, must surely want to know the secret of their success.
"They are a ... world success story on Covid-19. They have less than 450 cases and have had four deaths and the population around the same size as Australia."