Culture

New Zealand is "uncomfortable" expanding its intelligence alliance with China

New Zealand is

Mahuta is redefining New Zealand's Foreign Affairs in a dynamic and exciting way.

Defence ministers from Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand agreed on this expanded remit last May to 'advance their shared values of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights'.

Victoria University's Robert Ayson says the Foreign Minister shouldn't have drawn attention to NZ's reluctance to use the intelligence network to antagonise Beijing.

Endorsing such a move could see New Zealand forced into lockstep on matters where it may prefer a different approach, or risk the opprobrium of its Five Eyes partners.

But for Australia and New Zealand, which are more reliant on China for trade, the issue of condemning the neighbour is more thorny.

China and New Zealand upgraded a free trade agreement in January, when, Mahuta said, trade ministers had held a "constructive" call.

But Mahuta does not want to make a habit of conducting diplomacy through Five Eyes.

"Thanks to Wellington's naïve decision to prioritise trade with China over its membership of the elite Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, Ms Ardern can expect her country's isolation to deepen further as New Zealand faces the very real prospect of expulsion from the alliance over its pro-Beijing stance".

The position appeared to be a in reaction to Beijing's concerns.

Mahuta had previously accused journalists of reading too much into when New Zealand did - or didn't - join its Five Eyes partners in signing onto statements, but her comments seemed to confirm there has been a greater strategy in play.

And she issued a veiled criticism of China's loans to Pacific Island countries which had increased their vulnerability under Covid-19. It was already there.

When contacted by The New Zealand Herald, Helen Clark said she was staggered at the suggestion. For example, the comments ended up being praised by Chinese state-owned media.

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The comments were made in a keynote speech at the New Zealand China Council meeting in Wellington yesterday.

"In context, what I indicated was that our closest allies are members of the Five Eyes alliance".

"Is that best done under the banner of a grouping of countries around a security intelligence platform, or [is] it best done around a group of countries with shared values - some of which might not belong to that five eyes partnership?"

'Not every issue we speak as New Zealand is a security and intelligence issue, ' she said.

"The Chinese understand we have these values and will express them from time to time".

With China's escalating presence in the Asia-Pacific region, Mahuta said New Zealand needed to determine how it would go about its "mature" relationship with China.

"We will stand for what we believe is in the long-term interest of New Zealand". Aotearoa did, however, join 27 other countries in supporting a statement presented at the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee past year discussing "an increasing number of reports of gross human rights violations" in Xinjiang.

Last month, New Zealand teamed up with Australia to express "grave concerns" over "credible" reports of severe human rights abuses in the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China.

The National leader says New Zealand's economy needs to stop relying on China so much, but it's easier said than done.

"At times we will do this in association with others that share our views and sometimes we will act alone".

Collins said global relations were slowly turning into a battle between China and the Anglo-American sphere.

New Zealand said Monday it would not let the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance dictate its dealings with its largest trading partner China, in the latest distancing from the US-led group's approach to tensions with Beijing.



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