Winston Peters has no intention of "correcting" the position the Government has taken regarding China's activity in the region, despite calls to do so by China's foreign ministry.
The Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister was commenting on a statement yesterday by China's Foreign Ministry to change its statement which it described as wrong and irresponsible.
"We urge New Zealand to view the relevant issue in an objective way, correct its wrong words and deeds and contribute more to the mutual trust and co-operation between our two countries," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at the ministry's daily press conference yesterday in response to a question.
"We have lodged stern representations with New Zealand on the wrong remarks it has made on China…
"China's development poses no threat to others," she said. "Instead it will provide other countries around the globe with important opportunities."
She said China's position on the South China Seas issue was consistent and clear-cut.
"China's construction in its own territory by the South China Seas are completely justified and legitimate.
"Nobody is in the position to make irresponsible remarks on that. While firmly safeguarding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, China is committed to peacefully resolving the disputes through talks and negotiation with the countries directly concerned."
Peters told reporters in Napier that the statement was right, not wrong.
"The words weren't wrong," he said.
"We are a sovereign nation and we believe in being frank and up front with the New Zealand people and indeed our neighbourhood."
Whether it was the United States, China or any other country telling New Zealand to change "it comes down to our right to see this as we see it in a very responsible way."
China has taken exception to the Strategic Defence Policy Statement 2018 which was released on Friday by Defence Minister Ron Mark - although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a strong input as well as the Ministry of Defence.
Past Governments and Peters himself has been less explicit than other countries in publicly criticising China's activities – particularly in the South China Seas.
But this document was explicit in calling it out for challenging the rule-based international order.
It also drew attention to its different "views" on human rights and freedom of information in relation to New Zealand's values and the fact that while it had a liberal economy it did not have a liberal democracy.
Peters revealed on Monday that China had expressed its concern with the statement to New Zealand's ambassador in Beijing, Clare Fearnley, and through its ambassador in Wellington, Madam Wu Xi.