New Zealand assures Australia there is no fault on China | Voice of America
SYDNEY – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has insisted that relations with his close ally, Australia, would not be negatively affected by China. The Ardern government has been accused of being gentle with Beijing in order to enjoy better trade relations with the East Asian nation.
Ardern also had annual talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to discuss trade, security and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In New Zealand’s Queenstown ski and adventure sports resort, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, played down signs of division over relations with China.
Earlier this year, New Zealand said it was “uncomfortable” using the 70-year-old Five Eyes intelligence group, which includes the United States, Britain, l ‘Australia and Canada, to criticize China. This has been widely interpreted as Wellington’s attempt to avoid damaging its lucrative business relationship with Beijing.
A TV documentary accused New Zealand of abandoning Australia “for quick Chinese money”.
New Zealand was reluctant to sign joint statements from its alliance partners condemning China’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and its treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority population. The statements angered the Chinese government.
But after annual talks Monday with the Australian prime minister, Ardern said she stood in solidarity with her trans-Tasman neighbor.
“At no point in our discussions today have I detected a difference in our relative positions on the importance of maintaining a very strong, principled perspective on trade-related issues, on relative issues. to human rights, and you will see that Australia and New Zealand have largely been positioned in exactly the same place on these issues in a consistent manner. So I really reject any suggestion that we are not taking a firm stand on these extremely important issues, ”Ardern said.
New Zealand has also indicated that it will support Australia in its ongoing trade dispute with China. Tensions between Canberra and Beijing have escalated in recent years over geopolitical disputes and allegations of Chinese interference in Australian politics. Canberra’s call for a global investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, which first emerged in China in late 2019, has rocked the relationship, resulting in sizable Chinese tariffs on many Australian exports, including wine, barley and coal.
Morrison said his country’s relations with New Zealand remain strong.
“As great partners, friends, allies and indeed family members, there will be those far from here who seek to divide us, and they will not succeed,” Morrison said.
There are, however, points of disagreement.
The controversial expulsion of New Zealanders convicted by Canberra of crimes, including children, has strained relations between the two countries. A senior Australian minister compared the policy to “taking out the trash”. In response, New Zealand officials said the practice was “deplorable” and that the minister’s inflammatory remarks only served “to sully his reputation”.
The two countries also discussed how to ease stringent COVID-19 border controls to possibly reconnect with the rest of the world.
In a joint statement, Ardern and Morrison urged China to respect human rights in Hong Kong and criticized its incarceration of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
In response, China said Australian and New Zealand leaders had made “irresponsible remarks” about its internal affairs and made baseless accusations against Beijing.
China has been the subject of a worldwide condemnation for the treatment of one million Muslim Uyghurs held in internment camps, including an American classification of Chinese policy towards the Uyghurs as “genocide”.