Chinese State-Run Media Jumps on New Zealand PM’s Softening Stance Towards Beijing

Chinese state-run media has noted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s softer stance towards China in her recent major foreign policy speech.The Global Times, a Chinese regime mouthpiece, claimed in an article that this softer language towards Beijing signalled that Australia’s “wishful thinking” to “rally” New Zealand against China had stalled. Ardern said in her speech to the Lowy Institute on July 7 that despite the increasing assertiveness of Beijing, there were “still shared interests on which we can and should cooperate.” The prime minister also argued that many countries, including China, had played a role in the Pacific region for many years. “It would be wrong to characterise this engagement, including that of China, as new,” she said. “It would also be wrong to position the Pacific in such a way that they have to ‘pick sides.’” “These are democratic nations with their own sovereign right to determine their foreign policy engagements. We can be country neutral in approach but have a Pacific bias on the values we apply for these engagements.” The Chinese media seized these comments, claiming they “exposed the illusion” that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was a newcomer to the Pacific. It also cited a researcher from a Chinese university that New Zealand was often pressured by Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, to align its comments and stance against the CCP. New Zealand’s Position The New Zealand government had appeared to become increasingly firm against the Chinese regime. During a visit to the White House in May, Ardern told reporters that New Zealand was in an “increasingly contested” region and engagement in the area had to be “on our terms, respectively,” and not in response to Beijing. Later, during the NATO summit in Madrid in June, Ardern said the CCP, in recent times, had become “more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms.” “We must respond to the actions we see,” she said. In response to both speeches, Beijing rejected Ardern’s comments warning that they were “not helpful” for deepening trust between the two countries. However, earlier in April, Ardern had said she stood by her government’s relationship with the CCP, saying there was still a need to “work together” in areas of mutual interest, despite its “growing assertiveness” in the region. “China is a very important trading partner for us, but it’s also a mature relationship for us,” Ardern told the BBC. “Where there are areas we can work together, we will—but there will always be areas in which we will not necessarily agree, and when those areas arise, we are very forthright and clear on our position.” The small island nation’s economy is reliant on its biggest trading partner, China, and the government has usually strayed from taking a strong stance against the Chinese regime. Follow Rebecca Zhu is based in Sydney. She focuses on Australian and New Zealand national affairs. Got a tip? Contact her at [email protected]

Chinese State-Run Media Jumps on New Zealand PM’s Softening Stance Towards Beijing

Chinese state-run media has noted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s softer stance towards China in her recent major foreign policy speech.

The Global Times, a Chinese regime mouthpiece, claimed in an article that this softer language towards Beijing signalled that Australia’s “wishful thinking” to “rally” New Zealand against China had stalled.

Ardern said in her speech to the Lowy Institute on July 7 that despite the increasing assertiveness of Beijing, there were “still shared interests on which we can and should cooperate.”

The prime minister also argued that many countries, including China, had played a role in the Pacific region for many years.

“It would be wrong to characterise this engagement, including that of China, as new,” she said. “It would also be wrong to position the Pacific in such a way that they have to ‘pick sides.’”

“These are democratic nations with their own sovereign right to determine their foreign policy engagements. We can be country neutral in approach but have a Pacific bias on the values we apply for these engagements.”

The Chinese media seized these comments, claiming they “exposed the illusion” that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was a newcomer to the Pacific.

It also cited a researcher from a Chinese university that New Zealand was often pressured by Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, to align its comments and stance against the CCP.

New Zealand’s Position

The New Zealand government had appeared to become increasingly firm against the Chinese regime.

During a visit to the White House in May, Ardern told reporters that New Zealand was in an “increasingly contested” region and engagement in the area had to be “on our terms, respectively,” and not in response to Beijing.

Later, during the NATO summit in Madrid in June, Ardern said the CCP, in recent times, had become “more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms.”

“We must respond to the actions we see,” she said.

In response to both speeches, Beijing rejected Ardern’s comments warning that they were “not helpful” for deepening trust between the two countries.

However, earlier in April, Ardern had said she stood by her government’s relationship with the CCP, saying there was still a need to “work together” in areas of mutual interest, despite its “growing assertiveness” in the region.

“China is a very important trading partner for us, but it’s also a mature relationship for us,” Ardern told the BBC.

“Where there are areas we can work together, we will—but there will always be areas in which we will not necessarily agree, and when those areas arise, we are very forthright and clear on our position.”

The small island nation’s economy is reliant on its biggest trading partner, China, and the government has usually strayed from taking a strong stance against the Chinese regime.


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Rebecca Zhu is based in Sydney. She focuses on Australian and New Zealand national affairs. Got a tip? Contact her at [email protected]