Even as China becomes more assertive, there are still common interests, New Zealand PM says

By Lucy Cramer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that even “as China becomes more assertive in pursuing its interests”, there are still common interests on which the two countries can and should cooperate.

New Zealand has recently toughened its tone on security and Beijing’s growing presence in the South Pacific, in part due to the signing of a security pact between China and the Solomon Islands earlier this year. But at the same time, New Zealand remains dependent on trade with China.

Ardern said in a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland that while there were areas that mattered deeply to New Zealand and where the country’s perspective differed from that of China, New Zealand was willing to engage.

“We will also advocate for approaches and outcomes that reflect New Zealand’s interests and values, and speak out on issues that do not,” she said.

“Our differences don’t need to define us. But we can’t ignore them,” she said.

New Zealand has consistently expressed concerns about economic coercion, the violation of human rights and in particular the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, democracy advocates in Hong Kong and, more recently, the potential militarization of the Peaceful. On several occasions, New Zealand has participated in joint statements on these concerns.

Ardern added that managing the differences in relations between the two countries would not always be easy and “there were no guarantees”.

She added that she looked forward to in-person ministerial visits and planned to lead a trade delegation there when COVID measures allowed and that there was also potential for visits by foreign ministers between the two countries.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Leave a Comment