Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said on Monday that as Beijing’s role in the world continues to grow and change, the differences between New Zealand and its largest trading partner, China, have become increasingly difficult to reconcile.
The above comments come when New Zealand is under pressure from certain factors in its Western allies because it is unwilling to use the “Five Eyes Intelligence and Security Alliance”
Ardern said in his speech at the Auckland China Business Summit that China and New Zealand “do not agree, cannot, and will not agree” on certain matters, but added that these differences do not necessarily define the relationship between them.
Ardern said: “As China’s role in the world continues to develop and change, the differences between our systems and the differences between the interests and values that make up these systems will become increasingly difficult to reconcile,” Ardern said. .
She added: “This is a challenge that we and many other countries in the Indo-Pacific region and Europe and other regions are also working hard to address.”
When Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta drew reactions from Western allies in her comments, she said last month that she was uncomfortable with expanding the role of the Five Eyes to include Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.
Geoffrey Miller, an international analyst at the political website Democracy Project, said: “After Mahuta’s speech last month, this remark seemed to make commentators unexpectedly sharp and harsh. Criticism.”
He said, however, these comments did not change New Zealand’s stance towards being more Chinese friendly, or at least a more neutral stance.
He added: “As New Zealand pursues an’independent foreign policy’ that is not loyal to any major group, Ardern and Mahata are promoting new positions.”
China, which accounts for nearly one-third of New Zealand’s exports, has accused the Five Eyes of tying them together by issuing statements about Hong Kong and treating Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
The New Zealand Parliament on Tuesday will consider a motion from a smaller party to declare the situation in Xinjiang as a genocide.
Arden said that New Zealand will continue to discuss these issues individually or through its partners, noting that managing the relationship with China is not always an easy task.
Wuxi, the Chinese ambassador to New Zealand, also gave a warning during the event. He warned that issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang are China’s internal affairs.
She said: “We hope that New Zealand can maintain an objective and fair position, abide by international law, and not interfere in China’s internal affairs, so as to maintain the healthy development of bilateral relations.”
Beijing entered into a diplomatic dispute with Australia and imposed trade restrictions after Canberra lobbied for an international investigation into the source of the coronavirus. China denies that the restrictions are retaliation, saying that the reduction in imports of Australian products is the result of buyers’ own decisions.
Last weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that China has recently taken “more aggressive action” abroad and has shown “increasing performance in confrontational behavior.”
When asked whether New Zealand would take the same risks as Australia to impose trade penalties with China, Arden said: “If the object of consideration is,’Are we speaking here, or are we too worried, what about New Zealand? Everyone is worried. The economic impact?'”
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