New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday (May 3) acknowledged differences with China over human rights when her government was criticized for not being firm enough with Beijing on the issue. In a speech in Auckland at an economic summit with China, Jacinda Ardern said her country has already partnered with Beijing. ‘Deep fears’ On the erosion of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong and the treatment of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
However, the center-left leader noted that New Zealand is independent on matters of foreign policy and is therefore free to choose whether these issues should be addressed publicly or in private conversations with Chinese leaders. It also acknowledged that China and New Zealand will never agree on some issues. “It will not be forgotten here that as China’s role in the world grows and develops, the differences between our systems (…) become more and more difficult to reconcile.”She said. “This is the challenge that we and many other countries face in the Indo-Pacific, but also in Europe and other regions”. “We have to realize that there are some things that China and New Zealand don’t agree to, and won’t agree to.”She said. “It shouldn’t change our relationship, it’s just a fact.”
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaya Mahuta recently confirmed that Wellington would not let the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance (Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the United States and Canada), dictate its policy with its main trading partner. A few months ago, Trade Minister Damian O’Connor urged Australia to show more “respect” towards Beijing, after the archipelago signed an enhanced free trade agreement with China.
Tensions between Canberra and Beijing have steadily risen since 2018 over disagreements over a growing number of topics, from 5G technology to accusations of espionage, via Hong Kong, or the origin of the coronavirus.
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