Ardern’s speech was not an attack on China, or even a shift away from Beijing | Bryce Edwards

Ardern’s speech was not an attack on China, or even a shift away from Beijing | Bryce Edwards

The Guardian

.

.
.
.

Her words might have sounded tough to a domestic audience but in fact they’ll go down fine in China

Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government is achieving something no other western country has done – staying on side with China. Her latest speech on relations with China once again shows the west how deft diplomacy is done – with a carefully choreographed message that reiterates New Zealand is not joining the western aggression against the country’s biggest trading partner, while at the same time voicing some necessary hard words about human rights abuses.

The prime minister gave a highly anticipated keynote speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland on Monday, which clarified her government’s orientation to China following a controversial speech two weeks ago by the foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta. Mahuta had said that New Zealand won’t simply follow the Five Eyes security alliance’s condemnation of China. Today, Ardern essentially endorsed Mahuta’s distancing from western allies, arguing her government would make its own decisions on how to communicate its concerns about human rights abuses. Then speaking in a Q and A session she used a sporting analogy, saying “I’m often asked which lane are we swimming in. We swim in New Zealand’s lane.” This is a very clear rebuff to the increasing pressure from western allies for her government to take a harder line.

Continue reading…