New Zealand China Council board member Dame Jenny Shipley says companies doing business in China must pay close attention to the rules.
Experts say China's business environment is changing as a crackdown on corruption continues to net some very wealthy and powerful people.
A Hong Kong-based risk advisory company, Steve Vickers Associates, says the anti-corruption campaign presents real risks to foreign businesses.
But Dame Jenny said the crackdown was needed to help China to develop further and its path is similar to other emerging economies.
She said the Chinese leadership was determined to ensure the business environment was transparent and rules based.
The former Prime Minister has just been appointed chair of food exporter Oravida, which airfreights fresh milk and produce to China and is seeking to expand its presence in that country.