Prime Minister John Key met up with Oravida's chairman
Stone Shi at a dinner in Beijing last night, greeting him with
a handshake and a "nice to see you again" before posing for
The encounter happened just minutes after Mr Key had yet
again faced questions over a dinner Justice Minister Judith
Collins had with Mr Shi and a Chinese border official while
in China last year.
Mr Shi and Oravida's managing director Julia Xu attended a
function for about 250 dairy exporters at the Four Seasons
Hotel in Beijing last night.
They declined to speak to media, saying they were there to
support New Zealand dairy exports and enjoy the dinner.
However, Mr Shi lined up for a photo with Mr Key, who went to
the function straight from dinner with China's President Xi
Mr Key has met Mr Shi before - including playing a game of
golf which Shi won in a fundraising auction for the National
Mr Key said he had not know whether it was a National Party
fundraiser at the time, or how much Mr Shi paid for the game,
but Oravida's donations had been declared.
Just before the photo, Mr Key had had to defend Ms Collins to
media again after further questions were raised about the
dinner. He said beforehand he would be happy to meet Mr Shi,
saying Oravida was a legitimate business and Mr Key had no
conflict of interest.
Mr Key said that what Ms Collins had told him about the
dinner was consistent with what she had said in Parliament
yesterday. Asked about Ms Collins lodging a formal complaint
against TVNZ for its coverage, Mr Key said he had not seen
the report in question.
"In the end I leave ministers to deal with their own
Mr Key has reprimanded Ms Collins for failing to advise him
about the dinner earlier and not effectively managed the
potential perception of a conflict of interest.
Mr Key also revealed he had spoken to New Zealand's
ambassador in Beijing, Carl Worker, briefly about the dinner.
Mr Worker had been invited but had not attended. Mr Key said
Mr Worker was also a personal friend of Mr Shi's but had not
attended because the dinner was a private dinner.
He said he did not know if Mr Worker had raised any concerns
or given any advice to Ms Collins about the wisdom of the
dinner or attendance of the Chinese official.
"His main point was that she's been a good minister, she did
a lot of hard work up here, she's been very pro the
relationship with China. But he would acknowledge he's got a
personal relationship with Stone Chi."
Mr Key said with the benefit of hindsight, such matters would
have been dealt with differently.
- Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald