Jacinda Ardern said that New Zealand will continue to work with China on “common interests” even as tensions in the region escalate and China becomes more active in defending its interests.
Speaking to China At a business summit in Auckland on Monday, the prime minister said she was planning a trip to China “to take advantage of new opportunities for dialogue”, support trade relations and continue cooperation in combating the climate crisis.
“Even though China is becoming more assertive in defending its interests, we still have common interests on which we can and should cooperate,” she said.
The Prime Minister’s speech comes at a tense time for the Indo-Pacific region with Western allies. concerned about China’s desire for influenceespecially its proposed regional Pacific Security Deal. Ardern urged Beijing to respect and support the institutions she said underpin regional and international peace and stability.
Both New Zealand and China have been “primary beneficiaries of relative peace, stability and prosperity … The rules, norms and institutions, such as the United Nations, that underlie stability and prosperity remain indispensable,” Ardern said, but also “are threatened”. “.
“We see how much we will lose if the international rules-based system fails,” she said.
Speech was closely associated with partisan foreign policy line of Ardern’s second-term government. The policy emphasized “respect, consistency and predictability” in dealing with China: in essence, the government would continue to cooperate and work closely with China on mutually beneficial issues, especially in the area of trade, while highlighting differences – usually in foreign policy and human relations. rights.
This balancing act was at times difficult to manage. New Zealand remains heavily dependent on China for trade – the country is its largest trading partner, accounting for 23% of total trade and 32% of merchandise exports.
But as China’s economic importance to New Zealand has grown, ideological differences with Beijing have grown sharper, with reports of severe human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Beijing moves into the Pacific and the South China Sea, as well as the destruction of democracy in Hong Kong.
“In response to rising tensions or risks in the region – whether in the Pacific, the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait – New Zealand’s position remains unchanged – we call for respect for international rules and norms; for diplomacy, de-escalation and dialogue, not threats, force and coercion,” Ardern said.
“Our differences should not define us. But we cannot ignore them. It will mean continuing to speak out on some issues, sometimes with others and sometimes alone,” she said.
“We did this recently on issues in the Pacific. We have also consistently expressed our concerns about economic coercion, human rights, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.”
One of the prime examples of the imperfection of the prime minister’s institutions and norms was Putin’s war with Ukraine, and she called on China to “make it clear that it does not support the Russian invasion” and “use its access and influence to help end the conflict.”