Report Wire

News at Another Perspective

New Zealand, in recession and heading to polls, goes pragmatic on China commerce

3 min read

By Reuters: New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins trod a cautious line on his first journey to China final week as chief, specializing in commerce and financial alternatives however avoiding contentious points resembling human rights abuses in Xinjiang or safety considerations.

Barely three months out from what seems to be more likely to be a good election and with the financial system already technically in recession, analysts say Hipkins is searching for to step out of the shadow of high-profile former chief Jacinda Ardern and present he’s the particular person to run the nation for an additional three years.

One angle Hipkins is specializing in is assuring voters that Labour is the occasion to convey again prosperity – and which means avoiding disputes with the nation’s largest buying and selling accomplice, which might injury New Zealand exports.

“This was a big visit for Hipkins who is cementing his profile as a new prime minister in an election year,” mentioned Robert Ayson, professor of strategic research at Victoria University.

“Hipkins pulled his punches on something controversial. We had been again, for a second not less than, the place New Zealand admits it doesn’t see eye to eye with China on some large issues with out truly naming them.”

ALSO READ | Explosion rips through building in Tokyo, four suffer minor injuries

New Zealand has long been seen as the most conciliatory towards China among the Five Eyes security grouping, which includes Australia, the US, Britain and Canada.

But the country’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Ardern in recent meetings with counterparts noted the situation in Xinjiang and the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong, while raising concerns about potential militarisation in the Pacific and tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
The statement after Hipkins’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned none of these issues.

“(Hipkins’s) visit certainly gave China a tick in the international legitimacy box and Beijing has gained at least as much from Hipkins’ visit as New Zealand exporters,” Victoria University’s Ayson said.

New Zealand exporters were prominent in the visit with a delegation of 29 businesses travelling with the prime minister to China.

Business is not a traditional supporter base of the Labour Party, but Hipkins has been focused on winning this sector over since he took office – his first full day in the job in January he spent talking to business leaders in Auckland.

“My sense is that there’s a significant aspect of domestic politics here in an election year, and that Hipkins wants to be seen as a sort of good steward of the China relationship,” said David Capie, Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University.

The most recent polls from late May put a coalition of opposition parties National and Act ahead of a Labour-Green party coalition. Neither coalition, however, may have a clear majority.

Derek J Grossman, a senior defence analyst at RAND Corp in the United States said the trade-focused visit is unlikely to have any negative blowback on New Zealand’s relationship with other partners as many countries are aware of the delicate balancing act Wellington is playing.

“In addition, and as the Biden administration has shown with India on its Russia ties, so long as partners agree to cooperate on the Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China, then Washington is willing to tolerate quite a bit of behaviour that does not align with its interests or even values.”