Prime Minister John Key telephoned the most senior minister in the visiting Chinese delegation to apologise for the scuffle during the arrival of Vice-President Xi Jingping at Parliament.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has also called for a full report on the incident from his ministry and he would like to see a protocol developed between the Speaker and protesting MPs for future visits.

Protesting at China's human rights abuses, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman held a Tibetan flag aloft a few metres away from Mr Xi at the Beehive entrance. Mr Xi had arrived to meet Speaker Lockwood Smith.

Dr Norman became involved in a scuffle after Chinese security put an umbrella over the flag and then pushed the flag out of his hand. When he went to pick it up off the ground someone stood on his hand.

Dr Norman laid a complaint with Dr Smith, and an assault complaint with the police.

The police said on Friday that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate an allegation of assault but they would continue inquiries.

Mr Xi's visit to Victoria University on Saturday morning to open the Confucius Institute was cancelled on Saturday for security reasons and the ceremony was moved to his hotel.

He left for Australia, as planned, in the afternoon after a three-day visit.

Speaking from Morocco last night, Mr McCully said he understood that Mr Key had directly called the second most senior member of the delegation and "conveyed his regret that there had been this encounter and expressed the hope that it had not unduly affected what has been a very positive visit".

"I understand that the fact that the Prime Minister picked up the phone was appreciated," Mr McCully said.

A spokesman for Mr Key, who is in South Africa, confirmed that Mr Key had made the call on Friday night.

"He apologised for the incident," the spokesman said, but Mr Key had not spoken to the Vice-President directly because of translation problems.

Dr Norman said Mr Key's Government had let Chinese security control Parliament and because of that "it stopped being a safe place for democracy".

He had been making a stand against China's human-rights record in Tibet.

Mr McCully thought Dr Norman had abused his position as an MP.

Other protesters are kept in a designated space and MPs ignored those constraints.

"Members of Parliament should understand they are in a privileged position and they shouldn't exploit it.

"I'm not suggesting we should constrain people's rights to protest or free speech or anything of the sort but that we find a seemly and courteous way of allowing security people and police and others to plan and allow Members of Parliament to protest if they feel they must."

He said he would like to see if the Greens were open to a "professional discussion about it to see if we can meet everyone's objectives here".