Foreign Minister Winston Peters has rejected claims by National that New Zealand exporters are experiencing delays at Chinese ports.

And he has slammed concerns by Kiwi businessman in China David Mahon about the state of the relationship, saying he doesn't have inside knowledge.

Peters challenged deputy National leader Paula Bennett to show some evidence after she made the suggestion in Parliament but none was forthcoming.

"There are no delays on our ports or Chinese ports at this point in time," Peters said. "In fact if you look at the growth in exports, the growth in inter-country travel, the growth in expenditure between China and New Zealand, it's all gone up in the last year dramatically."


No businessman or woman had raised the issue with the Government, he said.

Peters has downplayed the strains in New Zealand's relationship with China which have been most recently marked by the China's Government cancelling a visit of a delegation to launch the China-NZ Year of Tourism.

Peters also said he had spoken with China's ambassador, Wu Xi, at a function at Parliament on Wednesday and she had invited him to dinner.

Peters said suggestions that Chinese authorities had turned back an Air New Zealand plane at the weekend were wrong and there had been no communication with China before the decision was taken.

Air New Zealand itself took the decision to return the plane to Auckland when it realised mid-flight it did not have proper permission to land the plane, rather than risk being turned back from Shanghai.

Regarding a suggestion five Cabinet ministers were waiting for permission from China to visit, Peters said none had made an application for a visa – although he did not confirm that China was withholding permission for their visits.

The Herald asked National for specifics about trade delays but they did not provide them.

Foreign affairs and trade spokesman Todd McClay said in a statement: "We are hearing increasing reports of exporters facing problems with exports to China."


He said New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has said at select committee it had started to receive calls and was now going to look into those concerns.

But NZTE actually avoided any suggestion at the committee that problems being faced by exporters were bigger than the normal problems faced in that market.

NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp, appearing at the economic development committee , said he had talked to many companies in the past week or two about trade with China.

"We have been contacted by companies that have advised us there there's dilemmas. Some have got dilemmas, some haven't – for me, not enough to draw a conclusion about a pattern at this point in time."

Some companies had contacted him and he had proactively contacted others about their current trade.

NZTE chairman and former Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier said in his experience with China "you are always going to have some friction at the border."

"We just don't have enough evidence to make a prediction if there's anything new right now. Everyone is speculating on it but we don't have enough evidence from our customers."

Meanwhile Peters dismissed the views of leading Kiwi businessman in Beijing David Mahon who told the Herald this week that Beijing's previously "brilliant" relationship with China had almost reversed.

"He's outside the Government; I'm inside it, that's the difference," Peters said.

"Has he got a good link into the Beijing political administration? No. We've got a better than that so I'm relaxed about what I'm saying.":

Earlier this week Peters called the relationship with Beijing "excellent."