New Zealand Stands with China: Cautions Ally Australia to ‘Show Respect’ to Beijing

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern makes a point during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney, Friday, March 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
AP/Rick Rycroft

New Zealand’s left-wing Labour government has taken key ally Australia to task over its dealings with China, warning Canberra on Thursday it should “show respect” to Beijing.

Boasting of Wellington’s recent success in trade talks with China, NZ Trade Minister Damien O’Connor urged Australia to change its tune and follow New Zealand’s diplomatic lead, AFP reports.

“I can’t speak for Australia and the way it runs its diplomatic relationships, but clearly if they were to follow us and show respect, I guess a little more diplomacy from time to time and be cautious with wording, then they too could hopefully be in a similar situation,” he said.

New Zealand’s policy of appeasement towards China has been reflected in its previous refusal to sign joint statements from Five Eyes partners criticising China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong democracy movement, including the recent arrests of activists in the city.

New Zealand officials have also been quiet about China’s growing influence in the Pacific, unlike their U.S. and Australian counterparts who have not been silent in challenging Beijing’s increasing activity in the region, as Breitbart News reported.

In return for Canberra’s challenges, China has imposed punitive levies on more than a dozen Australian imports, including wine and barley, as relations sour.

Other irritants for Beijing include Australia’s call for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus and a ban on Chinese tech giant Huawei’s participation in the nation’s 5G network.

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper on Wednesday agreed with New Zealand, saying the South Pacific neighbors are “fire and ice” in their dealings with Beijing, accusing Canberra of having “a jingoistic Cold War mentality” while New Zealand was “relatively open toward the rise of China.”

The Chinese Communist Party has also found a way to tear into the strong Five Eyes alliance, with both New Zealand and Canada breaking ranks, as reported locally by Sky News Australia:

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who once worked in UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Cabinet Office as a policy adviser,  is no stranger to diplomatic dealings with Beijing.

In early 2008, Ardern was elected president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, a role which saw her spend time in several countries, including China.

AFP contributed to this story

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