"Could it be that New Zealand is turning into ... New Xi Land?" questioned an ominous voice over.
It was part of a preview for an incendiary segment of Australian TV show "60 Minutes" premised on the idea that New Zealand is so desperate to keep China, its biggest trading partner, onside that it has cast aside both its morals and its friendship with Canberra.
The clip quickly spread online, and on Monday Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison flatly denied its suggestion that New Zealand's approach to China was jeopardizing its relations with Australia. "Australia and New Zealand are trading nations, but neither of us would ever trade our sovereignty or our values," Morrison said after talks with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand's star tourist attraction, Queenstown.
The phrasing of the 60 Minutes clip may have been bombastic -- New Zealand is hardly "New Xi Land" -- but it spoke to ongoing questions over New Zealand's close relationship with Beijing at a time when other countries are taking a tougher approach to China.