COMMENT:

The blossoms are just starting to bloom in Beijing and it seems like a fitting backdrop to Jacinda Ardern's first visit here as Prime Minister.

Having endured a winter of discontent from China over irritants last year, there appears to be a fresh commitment from both sides for a new phase of growth.

Ardern looked thrilled to be there in the Great Hall of the People.

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By rights, she should be exhausted after the toll the Christchurch massacre must have had on her, physically and emotionally.

But it didn't show. She appeared energised by her day in Beijing.

So was it worth it, just for one day? Undoubtedly.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo / AP
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo / AP

It was a mission made for success, the more so because it was only one day.

It sent the clear signal to the Chinese leadership that Ardern really, really wanted to get there.

And it means she is now heavily invested in keeping relations on track - as China's ambassador Madam Wu Xi put it so eloquently recently - to build a more resilient relationship and handle differences properly.

It also gives China a chance to see more of Ardern and to give her a chance to build trust.

That fact that Ardern brought partner Clarke Gayford with her - the first time they have left New Zealand together without baby Neve - was an added level of commitment when such gestures carry meaning.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shake hands before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo / AP
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shake hands before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo / AP

She will have had a devil of a job trying to convince the Chinese Government that the red light given to Huawei's involvement in 5G by the Government's own spy agency the GCSB has nothing to do with her.

But concessions are clearly going to be made by New Zealand to do something with China under the aegis of the Belt and Road Initiative - having been put on the back burner by Foreign Minister Winston Peters for 18 months.

And there is a lot more space for co-operation over climate change and clean energy.

Ardern has been in office 18 months. It has taken a long time to get some quality time with one of New Zealand's most important partners.

But with spring comes new beginnings.