Helen Clark must sometimes wish she could simply text her Foreign Minister, "U fr chop".
In Beijing, a Foreign Minister who dared to rain on the Chinese Premier's parade by insinuating he had sold his countrymen down the river to get in another nation's good books would soon be dispatched.
But the bottom line - as the Prime Minister finally admitted to journalists at the New Zealand embassy in Beijing yesterday - is she needs New Zealand First's votes. "Winston Peters has made it possible for us to govern."
That's why Clark, painstakingly through interview after interview over her three-day sojourn in Beijing, has maintained the fiction that it's perfectly acceptable to have the minister who presents New Zealand's face to the world openly opposed to the major international strategic foray of her three terms as Prime Minister.
Clark and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao have both presented the free trade deal as a major foreign policy initiative by their two Governments.
Clark said yesterday it had not "occurred in a vacuum".
"It is the culmination not only of three years of hard negotiations, but also of a sustained effort over a number of years to build relations with China." Those relations would be damaged if the Chinese top leadership took Winston Peters seriously.
But they don't.
China's top leadership was primed on Peters' gamesmanship well before Helen Clark arrived at the Great Hall of the People on Monday.
In my own conversations with China's two most recent ambassadors - Zhang Yuanyuan and before him Chen Mingming - they've emphasised the Chinese Government attaches great importance to the fact the FTA was developed under the leadership of Clark and Premier Wen Jiabao and will be supported by the New Zealand parties.
As former PM Mike Moore says, "the adults are in charge".
Realpolitik aside, Peters' politicking cast a pall over Clark's success. Just hours earlier, the PM told New Zealand businesspeople that the Chinese market, "must be positively embraced".
"We cannot underestimate the significance of this history in our relationship with China, nor the advantage which this symbolism provides for New Zealand companies."
The Peters snub came while Clark was lunching with senior New Zealand businesspeople at the Beijing embassy.
Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe was diplomatic: "We've spent over three years negotiating this transaction, you can always spend longer and you can always try and do a little better but somewhere you've got to draw a line in the sand.
"Having spent the last three days here with leaders from across the New Zealand business community the resounding feedback I've had was that people were thrilled with the opportunities created by this deal."