WELLINGTON, May 3 (Reuters) - New Zealand's foreign minister on Friday described the country's relationship with China as "complex," and called out the hardening rhetoric across the Taiwan Strait, human rights violations in Hong Kong and "increased engagement in Pacific security sectors."

Winston Peters said in the speech to the New Zealand China Council in Auckland that China was a vital economic partner to New Zealand, with whom it has many things in common as well as many differences of opinions.

"Human rights are one such issue. We expect China to adhere to the principles and commitments that underpin internationally agreed human rights framework," he said.

He noted concerns New Zealand had in several areas, including behaviour in the Taiwan Strait, the treatment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, human rights violations in Hong Kong and the role China was playing in the Pacific.

"China has a long-standing presence in the Pacific, but we are seriously concerned by increased engagement in Pacific security sectors," Peters said.

"We do not want to see developments that destabilise the institutions and arrangements that have long underpinned our region's security," he added.

New Zealand has become increasingly vocal about its concerns over China's behaviour in the past couple of years, and a change in government in October 2023 has only continued to see this talk ramp up further.

"The New Zealand-China relationship is complex, and this means we need to be clear about what we seek to achieve through cooperation and engagement," he said.

Peters added that New Zealand can more clearly articulate our interests, and be clear about where these converge, and importantly, where these differ.

Earlier in the week, Peters said New Zealand was a long way off from joining security pact AUKUS between Australia, the United States and Britain.

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