Foreign Minister Winston Peters has hit back at Simon Bridges' accusations the country's relationship with China was deteriorating.
In Parliament today he took aim at the Opposition leader by mocking Bridges' accent, referring to China as "Choina."
He corrected his grammar, saying Bridges' should have spoken of "fees-free" policy rather than a "free fees" policy.
Peters moved on to questioning Bridges' business credentials and what he described as a late discovery by Bridges and deputy Paula Bennett that they were Māori.
Peters insisted New Zealand had an "excellent" relationship with China, despite criticisms from the Opposition that diplomatic relations between the two countries were deteriorating.
It came after Bridges used a myriad of what he called diplomatic issues to accuse Peters of being responsible for the "steadily deteriorating relationship" between New Zealand and China.
Speaking to media this afternoon, Peters talked up the relationship between the two countries.
"We have had six ministers over there, including myself – our conversations have been extensive both [in China] and around the world," he said.
"We have future plans to do things together."
This morning, the Herald revealed the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, which was meant to be launched at Te Papa museum next week, was postponed by China.
Bridges this morning placed the blame of this on Peters.
But Peters attempted to put some distance between the Government and the event.
He said that it was a tourism idea left by a man called "Mr Spray and walk away" – a reference to former Prime Minister John Key.
"As to the plans and as what to be done, it was never ours in the first place – we'll get around that."
He added that "sometimes these things are delayed".
Ardern has so far been unsuccessful in her attempts to schedule a diplomatic visit to China, although she said officials were still working on nailing down dates.
She reiterated this, this morning.
Peters backed her up and said there were many other big countries she hadn't yet visited, including the US.
Asked if New Zealand's relationship with China had changed since he had been Foreign Minister, Peters said it had.
"To the extent we had a pretty inert foreign ministry in the past because it was cash-strapped to do anything of any real value in most parts of the world".
Before last year's Budget, Peters announced $900 million in extra spending for diplomats and international aid.