Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that disagreements between New Zealand and its largest trading partner, China, are increasingly difficult to reconcile as Beijing’s role in the world grows and evolves.
The statements come at a time when New Zealand is under pressure from some elements of the Western allies for its reluctance to use the Five Eyes Intelligence and Security Alliance to criticize Beijing.
Speaking at the China Business Summit in Auckland, Ardern said that there are things that “China and New Zealand disagree with and cannot and will not,” but added that these differences do not. do not necessarily have to define their relationship.
“No one here will ever lose sight of this as China’s role in the world grows and evolves,” Ardern said, “the differences between our systems – and the interests and values that make up those systems – become more and more and more difficult to reconcile. ..
“This is a challenge we face, as well as many other countries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as in Europe and other regions,” she added.
In comments that drew some reaction from Western allies, Secretary of State Nanaya Mahuta said last month that she was uncomfortable extending the role of Five Eyes to Australia, the Great -Brittany, Canada and the United States. Read more
“It appears this speech was made to counter sharp and sudden criticism from commentators over Mahuta’s comments last month,” said Geoffrey Miller, international analyst at the Democrat Project political site.
However, he said the comments did not change New Zealand’s overall shift to a nicer stance towards China, or at least a more neutral stance.
He added that “Ardern and Mahuta are pushing for the new position, while New Zealand is proposing an” independent foreign policy “that is not loyal to a major bloc.
China, which accounts for nearly a third of New Zealand’s exports, accused Five Eyes of forging an alliance by making statements about Hong Kong and the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
On Tuesday, New Zealand’s parliament will consider a motion from a small party to call the situation in Xinjiang genocide.
Ardern said New Zealand will continue to discuss these issues both individually and through its partners, noting that managing the relationship with China will not always be easy.
Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand Wu Xi, who also spoke at the event, warned that issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang are China’s internal affairs.
“We hope that New Zealand will take an objective and fair position, respect international law and not interfere in the internal affairs of China, in order to maintain the healthy development of our bilateral relations,” she said. in his speech.
Beijing has entered diplomatic feuds with Australia and imposed trade restrictions after Canberra pushed for an international investigation into the source of the coronavirus. China denies that the restrictions are retaliatory measures and says the reduction in imports of Australian products is the result of buyers’ own decisions.
Last weekend, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said China had recently acted “more aggressively abroad” and behaved “in an increasingly hostile manner.” Read more
When asked if New Zealand would risk trade sanctions with China, as Australia has done, to keep values high, Ardern responded. The economic implications? ‘
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