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N Korea Belt Road inclusion controversial

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/05/2017

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North Korea's latest missile strike has caused controversy coinciding with their inclusion at an international summit on China's new Belt and Road trade initiative of which New Zealand is a partner.

Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith gave a presentation at day one of the One Belt, One Road Forum in Beijing on Sunday, two months after New Zealand signed up during a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in March.

There are reports the US embassy in Beijing had submitted a diplomatic note to China's foreign ministry, saying that inviting North Korea sent the wrong message.

Asked how it looked for New Zealand as a partner, Prime Minister Bill English was reluctant to comment saying it was not easy for New Zealand to understand China's relationship with North Korea.

"We're keen to see what we are seeing, and that is China playing a key role in trying to resolve these issues around North Korea and it's provocative missile programme, and resolve the issues without conflict," he said.

China has defended its invitation to North Korea, saying the forum is inclusive and open to all countries.

The grand Silk Road-style plan aims to build infrastructure across the world to boost trade and economic growth while cutting transit times.

Analysts estimate One Belt, One Road has $US1.3 ($NZ1.9) trillion in projects already initiated under the banner.

It's been speculated China Railway could be granted a contract to build a 22km highway from Whangarei to Marsden Point port in New Zealand as part of the programme.

One Belt, One Road also has the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and British finance minister Philip Hammond, who described the United Kingdom as a "natural partner".

Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo is also attending the forum but is tight-lipped about whether they will sign up.

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