Jacinda Ardern met China's Premier, Li Keqiang, in Singapore last night before heading to a gala dinner where she was planning to talk politics with Mike Pence, and that may include Myanmar.

Asked what she would be discussing with the US Vice-President, who asked to be seated next to her, the Prime Minsiter said politics.

"I imagine we will discuss politics. I will take the opportunity to talk from New Zealand's perspective."

"We have a unique position in the world, not only as a small island nation but embedded within the Pacific and just sharing that perspective on multilateral institutions, on issues like climate change.

"It is just a good chance to share the New Zealand story and I hope to make the most of it while it is there."


One event they both experienced yesterday was holding a bilateral meeting with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday but they both took quite different approaches.

Ardern emerged saying she had expressed concerns but said New Zealand stood ready to offer whatever help it could, especially in the way of development assistance, to reach a solution in the Rakhine state from which hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas have fled.

In his opening remarks at the start of the meeting, Pence did not hold back on his description of the treatment of the Rohingya.

"The violence and persecution by military and vigilante that resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh is without excuse," he said.

He hoped she could give him an update on who was being accountable for the violence.

The military denies it is persecuting Rohingya and says it has been responding to militant attacks by them.

In television coverage of their meeting, Aung San Suu Kyi told Pence that people had different points of view "but the point is that you should exchange these views and try to understand each other better."

"In a way, we can say that we understand our country better than any other country does, and I'm sure you will say the same of yours, that you understand your country better than anybody else."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before their formal talks in Singapore.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before their formal talks in Singapore.

Ardern said before her meeting with Premier Li that she would be raising human rights issues with him but they were kept to the closed door session.

In her opening remarks she said: "New Zealand's relationship with China is incredibly important to us. We see that relationship being incredibly important not just from an economic perspective but from a regional perspective."

She told reporters before the meeting that she was "content" with the progress of negotiations to upgrade the FTA relationship - there were three rounds of talks last year and two so far this year with one more said to be planned.

One issue that is not yet settled is the Coalition Government's position on China's Belt and Road Initiative, a grand plan for infrastructure projects aroudn the globe, which was backed in principal by the last National-led Government.

But New Zealand First Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Ardern have not endorsed it. Peters said he had asked his counterpart, Wang Yi, what it meant, and was yet to hear an answer.

Ardern yesterday told reporters that the memorandum of understanding the last Government had signed had been very open-ended and that officials were now working on what it meant for New Zealand in tangible terms.

Peters arrived in Singapore yesterday to join Ardern for the formal sessions of the East Asia Summit today.

Ardern also has bilateral meetings planned with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Maylasian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after formal talks with Jaicnda Ardern in Singapore.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after formal talks with Jaicnda Ardern in Singapore.