Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that the differences between New Zealand and China will become more difficult to reconcile as Beijing’s role in the world grows and changes.
In a speech at the China summit in Auckland, Ardern said there are things that China and New Zealand “cannot, can and will agree on”
“It would not have escaped anyone’s attention here that as China’s role in the world grows and changes, the differences between our systems – and the interests and values that shape these systems – become more difficult to reconcile,” Ardern said.
“This is a challenge that we and many other countries throughout the Indo-Pacific, but also in Europe and other regions, are also struggling with,” she added.
The comments come as New Zealand faces pressure from some elements among Western allies over its reluctance to use Five Eyes’ intelligence and security alliance, which includes Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States, to criticize Beijing.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said last month that she was uncomfortable with expanding the role of Five Eyes. Read more
China, New Zealand’s largest trading partner, has accused the five eyes of merging with China by issuing statements about Hong Kong and the treatment of ethnic Muslim Uyhgurs in Xinjiang.
Ardern said New Zealand will continue to talk about these issues individually as well as through its partners. It will not always be easy to manage relations with China, and “there can be no guarantees,” Ardern added.
China is involved in a diplomatic row with Australia and has imposed trade restrictions after Canberra lobbied for an international investigation into the source of the coronavirus. Beijing denies that curbs are retaliation, saying reduced imports of Australian products are the result of buyers’ own decisions.
Ardern said how it is China that treats its partners.
“We hope that China also sees in its own core interests to act in the world in ways that are in line with its responsibilities as a growing power, including as a permanent member of the UN Security Council,” she added.
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