(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta outlined concerns about human rights issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during meetings this week with her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Beijing.

“I noted New Zealand’s deep concerns regarding the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong,” Mahuta said in a statement Saturday in Wellington.

Mahuta also expressed concerns over developments in the South China Sea and increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and reiterated New Zealand’s condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“New Zealand would be concerned by any provision of lethal aid in support of Russia’s illegal war,” she said.

Mahuta’s visit was the first by a New Zealand foreign minister to Beijing since 2018. The meetings are aimed at cementing the relationship between the two countries, as well as discussing issues such as China’s growing presence in the Pacific. China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner and before the pandemic was a big source of visitors for the South Pacific nation’s key tourism industry.

“I noted the resilience of our bilateral trade through Covid-19,” Mahuta said. “With borders now open in both directions, reconnecting people will be a priority this year, with students, tourists and business people resuming travel.”

Mahuta said she invited Qin to visit New Zealand and discussed the possibility of a visit by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to China later this year. 

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