New Zealand frees China’s sight of pact


Nanaia Mahuta speaks during the New Zealand Government Cabinet Announcement in Wellington, New Zealand, November 2, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

New Zealand may not be a great world power, but when it comes to foreign policy, bigger and stronger nations won’t tell it what to do.

This was highlighted by Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who said she would not allow the Five Eyes alliance to determine New Zealand’s foreign policy, especially with regard to China, and has won the congratulations of his compatriots.

Formed under the UK-US Communication Intelligence Act, also known as the UKUSA Agreement, the Five Eyes is an intelligence gathering and sharing alliance created in 1946. It includes five English-speaking countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

In recent years, the United States has been pushing for a more assertive role for the Five Eyes and is reportedly keen to expand it in Japan. But not everyone is in tune with Washington.

Mahuta perfectly clarified Wellington’s position during a keynote address to the New Zealand Chinese Council on April 19 when she said that it was “not necessary” to invoke the Five Eyes every time. there was a foreign policy position New Zealand wanted to take.

“Diplomacy promotes dialogue, so it is very important that we stand up for our values ​​and what is in our best interests, we are looking for friends beyond the five eyes,” she said.

And she said New Zealand would determine its own “mature” relationship with China, which is also the country’s largest trading partner.

“We will stand up for what we believe is in New Zealand’s long-term best interests.” We will defend our values, what an open democracy looks like, respecting universal human rights, and we will seek other partners around the world. Mahuta said.

Multilateral opportunities

In recent months, the Five Eyes have voiced their alleged human rights concerns in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong.

Mahuta said, “We are not comfortable expanding the remit of the Five Eyes relationship. We would much prefer to seek multilateral opportunities to express our interests on a number of issues.”

Mahuta said Wellington wanted to chart his own course in relations with China. “New Zealand has been very clear … not to invoke the Five Eyes as the first point of contact to send messages on a range of issues. We did not favor this type of approach and expressed it. to Five Eyes partners. “

She compared New Zealand’s relationship to China as a relationship between a dragon and a taniwha, a serpent-like creature from Maori mythology. “I see the taniwha and the dragon as symbols of the strength of our particular customs, traditions and values, which are not always the same, but which must be upheld and respected. And on this virtue, we have developed together a mature relationship we have today. “

Earlier this year, New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said if Australia wanted to improve ties with China, it “should follow us and show respect.”

In January, New Zealand upgraded its free trade agreement with China and recently recorded its fastest growth rate in the first quarter. Jason Young, director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Center at Victoria University of Wellington, said trade tensions in Australia were a clear subtext of Mahuta’s speech.

“I think a key message was, ‘New Zealand is monitoring Sino-Australian relations very closely. Obviously it has an impact and it is a benchmark. And that has an impact on our relations with China, ”he told New Zealand media.

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