Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has raised with his new New Zealand counterpart, Winston Peters, the extradition of Chinese nationals facing corruption and criminal charges.
Long an ambition of Beijing, the issue of an extradition treaty has stalled because of New Zealand's opposition to China's extensive use of the death penalty, including for commercial crimes.
"The issue of corrupt individuals wanted in China and domiciled in New Zealand did seriously come up," Peters told New Zealand media in the Philippines capital, Manila, where he is accompanying Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the East Asian Summit meeting hosted by the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).
The pair moved yesterday from Da Nang, Vietnam, from the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit, to Manila as part of Ardern's first outing on the international stage.
Mr Peters said he had raised the precedent where a "most wanted" Chinese national, William Yan also known as Bill Liu, had been convicted in a New Zealand court of money laundering funds obtained corruptly in China. In that case, Yan was sentenced to five months' home detention in New Zealand and repatriated assets worth $42 million to China.
"That was a very successful case and they understood that," said Peters. "That will be a serious precedent in the future. I think it's fair enough for us to co-operate with them, providing of course that they don't execute anybody as a consequence of our action."
However, Mr Peters stopped short of supporting opening extradition treaty negotiations with Beijing.
"I would consult with my colleagues in the government to make sure we were all on the same wavelength," he said at a media conference where Ms Ardern said she would be raising New Zealand's "dim view" of the use of the death penalty in her bilateral meeting Monday with the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang.
Ms Ardern also has formal meetings scheduled at the Asean summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indonesian President Jokowi Wadodo and the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk.
She did not formally meet Chinese president Xi Jinping at Apec and is not meeting US president Donald Trump formally at either meeting.
On the prospects for the stalled negotiation of a free-trade agreement with India, Ms Ardern said advancement of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which includes India, was seen as a "quicker route" for improved trade ties.
She would reissue a long-standing invitation to Mr Modi to visit New Zealand.
A meeting of ministers in the RCEP negotiations is occurring on the sidelines of the Asean summit, with Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor representing New Zealand.
She is also seeking a further meeting with her Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, where she has turned up the heat in the past two days over the need for progress on the plight of some 600 asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, where Australia has been holding them. A humanitarian crisis is unfolding as the detainees protest the closure of the facility where they have been held, citing personal safety fears.
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