Winston Peters has held his first press conference on foreign policy issues since regaining the position of Foreign Minister last month.

He spoke to reporters in Manila about a meeting with China's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, held in Vietnam on the sidelines of Apec.

He did not alert New Zealand media to the meeting with Wang - it was reported in Xinhua, a state-run news agency.

And it appears that much of the meeting was about China's continued interest in pursuing Chinese fugitives who have found a safe haven in New Zealand.

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Peters said he told Wang that New Zealand would continue to co-operate on proven cases to send fugitives back to China but it would not send them back if they could face execution.

"We said 'we will co-operate when your case is proven but we can't send somebody back to be executed.'

"That was the abbreviated message and that we had had successful precedents in the past for not doing that."

Foreign Minister Winston Peters and his partner Jan Trotman arrive at Clark Air Base near Manila yesterday for the East Asian Summit. Photo / Audrey Young
Foreign Minister Winston Peters and his partner Jan Trotman arrive at Clark Air Base near Manila yesterday for the East Asian Summit. Photo / Audrey Young

He referred to a case in which a fugitive from China accused of money laundering had paid $42 million in a deal brokered by New Zealand Police - the money was split between New Zealand and China.

Peters said the case was about a man called Wu - but it was actually the result of a court order against William Yan, also known as Bill Liu, who was granted citizenship in 2008 by Shane Jones, now a New Zealand First Cabinet Minister, against the advice of officials.

Former Prime Minister John Key said there were up to 60 fugitives from China living in New Zealand.

Asked if he had raised the South China Seas disputes with Wang, Peters said not specifically although he had talked about New Zealand's support for the law of the sea, whereever it applied.

The meeting between the two foreign ministers was held ahead of a planned bilateral meeting on Tuesday between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and China's Premier, Li Keqiang, both of whom are in Manila for the East Asia Summit.

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Peters has had dozens of unanswered requests for interviews. He agreed to talk to reporters because he was standing alongside Ardern talking about the EAS, and she invited him to answer questions.