Edit Credit to OP there comment from this week’s discussion on a different statement by New Zealand’s Prime Minister.
Kiwi here. Most of our foreign policy commentary doesn’t make r/worldnews news , but when it does there is often a misinformed view that we are a Chinese vassal state or something ridiculous of that sort. Here’s some context to Ardern’s comments:
New Zealand has sought to diversify trade away from a reliance upon China for some time now, having experienced the dangers of dependence on one export market once before in our history (before the UK joined the EEC/EU, and imposed barriers on our products, almost a quarter of our exports went to Britain). New Zealand was a founding signatory of the TPP, then CPTPP as a Pacific Rim bloc which excludes China, only signed RCEP in the hope that India would later rejoin it as they are a major market we have restricted access to (RCEP was not signed to access Chinese market despite their inclusion, as our existing bilateral FTA with the PRC has better conditions in China than RCEP), we are negotiating a post-Brexit UK FTA, FTA with the European Union, have aggressively chased a FTA with the United States under both Democrat and Republican administrations (but been turned down by both), signed PACER Plus to support the Pacific islands with free trade whilst excluding China, are developing a Trans-Tasman Single Economic Market to deepen integration with Australia, jointly negotiated with Canberra the ASEAN-NZ-AUS FTA, and a range of other measures. If we get US and Indian market access, we will finally have trading arrangements with the major world markets. Trump’s protectionism and India dropping bilateral and RCEP talks has delayed this, but that’s not our fault. NZ has done all it can to open alternate markets, and do the opposite of putting all eggs in one basket. Our Foreign Minister even said this during a speech on China:
In thinking about long-term economic resilience we also understand that there is value in diversity. Just as the Council has noted, it is prudent not to put all eggs into a single basket. The New Zealand government will continue to work with business to pursue a range of trade opportunities.
Those were those opportunities. If the US wants to support a Pacific region not dependent upon China, they need to do their part in trade. Our previous foreign minister put it beautifully:
We have a choice. We either work together to ensure the regional rules of commerce protect the fundamental pillars our firms need to succeed – open markets, enforcement of contracts, access to independent judiciaries, and penalties for corruption and nepotism. Or we leave the rules to be written by others, placing our companies’ livelihoods in jeopardy.
The point is backed by the numbers. Though US exports to the world have grown by 5.3 percent on average per year since 1990, the share of US total exports to New Zealand dropped, from nearly 18 percent to 10 percent. Meanwhile, imports from our regional partners with whom we have FTAs have grown significantly in relative terms over the same period. China’s exports to New Zealand, for instance, have grown on average by 17 percent per year. And China’s share of total exports to New Zealand has grown from 1 percent to 20 percent during that time – becoming our largest source of imported goods. The shift is even more drastic for the US share of imports across Asia. In 1990, 17.4 percent of all goods imported to Asia came from the US, whereas by 2018 that share had fallen to just 7.4 percent. Put another way, the US has lost half of its market share in Asia over a 28 year period.
Essentially, we sent our last foreign minister to Washington DC and told the Trump administration that they are losing the Pacific to China because they remain protectionist. That’s the trade argument. As for turning a blind eye to China’s horrific human rights violations, New Zealand is unable to legally impose unilateral sanctions on any country without a UN mandate. But, it has been anything but silent:
Joint Statement by Australia and New Zealand on Xinjiang
Joint Statement by New Zealand and Australia on Hong Kong
New Zealand and Australia welcome sanctions on China
New Zealand signs letter to the president of the United Nations Human Rights Council over PRC abuse of Uighurs
New Zealand signs international letter gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang
New Zealand Prime Minister raises abuse of minorities during meeting with Chinese President
For all of these reasons, New Zealand was warned by China that it’s eyes would be “plucked out”. We didn’t stop, though. In addition, New Zealand invested a billion dollars over four years in a foreign affairs strategy – the Pacific Reset – that sought to reassert our influence and contain China’s within the South Pacific island countries.
Next: the recent clickbait headlines regarding our apparent ‘betrayal’ of the Five Eyes alliance, which is again alluded to within this article. The UKUSA agreement text, as shown in the declassified HW 80/2 file on the UK national archives website, states the following:
Scope of the Agreement
The agreement governs the relations of the above-mentioned parties in Communication Intelligence matters only. However, the exchange of such collateral material as is applicable for technical purposes and is not prejudicial to national interests will be effected between the Communication Intelligence agencies in both countries.
Ardern responded to the Murdoch media allegations that we were the weak link in Five Eyes by asserting the following:
“The point we’re making is Five Eyes is a security and intelligence platform – not every issue we speak on as New Zealand is a security and intelligence issue. It’s all about making sure we’re partnering or speaking with the right cohort at the right time.”
The UK and Australian media do not even know what the Five Eyes alliance is. It is a spying alliance. It is not a trade pact, defence pact, or human rights tribunal. As I’ve already made clear – we do speak out. But not through an unrelated organisation. A mass surveillance bloc of Western spy agencies has nothing to do with this issue, and as I’ve already quoted – the UKUSA/Five Eyes agreement has no legal basis for making such statements.
Thankfully the Australian Foreign Minister recognized this position as legitimate, even if the Australian media hasn’t:
“Now my view is that countries will choose to address issues of concerns in whichever forum they themselves determine appropriate and consistent with their respective national interest. But our respect for each other – Australia, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada – is enduring, and continuing, and one which we particularly in Australia value enormously.”
TL;DR – New Zealand is ready to stand up and condemn China on their civil and political rights violations, but we need further support to diversify trade. FTAs with India and the United States would be essential to this. We haven’t been silent though, and this is the latest step taken by our government to stand against Beijing despite their warning last year that continued action would result in our “eyes being plucked out”.
Credit: Source link