Prime Minister John Key yesterday tipped Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as a potential partner in the Government's $1.5 billion ultra-fast broadband project as he pointed to joint ventures as the way forward for Chinese investment in this country.

Speaking on TVNZ's Q+A, Mr Key restated his view that large-scale direct investment in New Zealand farmland by Chinese or other foreign buyers was not in New Zealand's interests.

"My general view is if we sell farms offshore in large numbers, that's not a good thing for New Zealand, simply because I don't think it adds a lot of value.

"It doesn't create a lot more jobs. It doesn't bring anything new to the table."

But he saw value in joint ventures between Chinese and NZ businesses. Those could include new agriculture or wood-processing facilities in New Zealand or overseas farming ventures, in Latin America for example.

During his stay in Shanghai in recent days, Mr Key said discussions had been held between "heavy hitters" from both NZ and China about joint ventures, including NZ infrastructure projects, an area where the Government wanted "value for money".

"Let's take ultra-fast broadband: they've got a lot of expertise in that area. Huawei is a big player, they're bigger round the world.

"No one's saying they would be the final selected partner in New Zealand but they've certainly got the capacity if they wanted to, to come in and look at doing something like that."

IDC Telecommunications analyst Rosalie Nelson said the suggestion of Huawei - a technology provider rather than a builder or operator of networks - was somewhat out of left field.

"It's not a fibre deployer unless it was intending to partner with one of the bidders."

Huawei supplied the equipment for cellphone company 2degrees' network.

Government-owned Crown Fibre Holdings is understood to have had about 32 bids for the ultra-fast broadband project, which aims to provide high-speed internet services to 75 per cent of NZ homes.

The Government is expected to announce the successful bids in September or October.

Meanwhile, Mr Key said China was expected to overtake Australia as NZ's biggest trading partner within "the medium term".

Wellington and Beijing had agreed on a target of doubling their annual trade to $20 billion a year within five years. Mr Key hoped NZ's exports to China would treble to $12 billion in that time.