Differences with China becoming 'harder to reconcile': New Zealand PM

The comments come as New Zealand faces pressure from some elements among Western allies over its reluctance to use the Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance to criticize Beijing.

In a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland, Ardern said there are things on which China and New Zealand "do not, cannot, and will not agree", but added these differences need not define their relationship.

In comments that sparked some reaction among Western allies, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said last month she was uncomfortable expanding the role of Five Eyes, which includes Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States. China, which takes almost one-third of New Zealand's exports, has accused the Five Eyes of ganging up on it by issuing statements on Hong Kong and the treatment of ethnic Muslim Uyhgurs in Xinjiang.