The view of Mahuta’s speech from across the Tasman: we are selling out our neighbours – and the West – to pander to Beijing

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta was  probably expecting  her speech this week  on New Zealand’s policy  towards  China  to be  widely  read, but not to have  produced  the  savage   reactions  it  did in some  quarters.

In our examination  of  the  speech, Point  of  Order  drew  attention  to how  Mahuta  had  delivered  a  poke  in the  eye  to  NZ’s  allies — and  sure  enough,  this  was  the feature   which got most  attention  across the  ditch.

At  home  the ACT  party was  fired  up by  praise  for the  speech  from  China.  It  found this approval,  coming from a communist dictatorship, as “deeply concerning”.

ACT’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Brooke van Velden says it’s hard to imagine how Nanaia Mahuta could fail harder than being praised by a communist dictatorship and shunned by  democratic allies.

She  noted international media are commenting that NZ has “broken with its Five Eyes partners as it pursues a closer alliance with China” and that “Five Eyes becomes four”.

“It didn’t help that Mahuta used bizarre rhetoric about taniwha and dragons. There might be a place for mysticism in a competent speech, but the minister failed to chart a course for NZ by addressing the tough issues.

“There was no mention of CCP interference and influence in NZ, the South China Sea, or the intimidation of Chinese communities in other countries.

“The fact that China has praised Mahuta for her comments shows she went too far and reflects the worrying distance we are developing with our Five Eyes partners.We shouldn’t be pandering to the CCP, but should instead show solidarity and support to our democratic allies, especially Australia which has recently been the recipient of sanctions from China.

“ACT believes NZ  should strengthen ties with our democratic allies. The minister’s speech has damaged NZ’s international reputation and she should be in damage control.”

Across  the  Tasman there  were  much sharper  reactions, particularly  from commentators  on the  right.  By  far  the  most  critical  was  Robert  Bolt,  who  led   in  this  way:

“We have evidence that woke politics is making the west desperately weak after NZ’s Foreign Affairs Minister refused to criticise China on COVID-19’s origins or on the treatment of Hong Kong and its activists.

“As I’ve said before, NZ is selling out Australia – and the West – to keep sweet with the genocidal Chinese dictatorship.NZ figures other democracies can do the fighting.  NZ can meanwhile sweet talk China and clean up businesswise.

‘‘But it may be worse than that. I think woke culture is also to blame.  NZ’s foreign minister is dizzy with her new age earth worship and old nature gods. For her, China is an ally in the fight against global warming, which seems to her far more important”.

On  an  earlier show, Bolt  referred  to  NZ’s government as  “sucking up to the Chinese dictatorship” after our government refused to join 14 other countries challenging the World Health Organisation’s report on the origins of COVID-19. help the dictatorship.   On that  show  Bolt  said :

“New Zealanders, I love your country, but are you proud that you have a prime minister that sells out your friends to please a dictator?” .

The  Australian Financial Review was  more  moderate  in its report,  though there  was  an  implied   criticism  in the  intro:

“NZ has told Australia and its other Five Eyes partners the US, Canada and the UK that it is ‘uncomfortable’ about expanding the role of the grouping beyond intelligence sharing, as Wellington tries to avoid a breakdown in its ­relationship with China.

“In an acknowledgement of NZ’s difficult strategic environment, Foreign Minister ­Nanaia Mahuta said the Ardern government was becoming “more alert to the values that differentiate” Wellington from Beijing, citing concerns on Hong Kong, the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang and cyber attacks.”

The address was delivered on Monday as Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and International Development and the Pacific Minister Zed Seselja prepared to visit NZ for three days of talks.

The AFR  noted less than three months ago that NZ Trade Minister Damien O’Connor set off a Trans-Tasman storm — widely reported in China’s state-­controlled media — after he said Australia “should follow us and show respect” to improve its relationship with President Xi Jinping’s administration.”

Beijing’s wide-ranging campaign of trade coercion on Australia has been closely watched by many in government and business in New Zealand.

Mahuta made several indirect references to Beijing’s ­actions in her speech, which explained the Ardern government’s approach to managing its ­relationship with an increasingly assertive China.

In January, NZ upgraded its free-trade agreement with China, the world’s second-biggest economy that last week recorded its fastest rate of first-quarter growth.

Mahuta warned her audience:

“It is prudent not to put all eggs into a single basket.” 

She also called on Beijing to show “respect and engagement” to other countries, although she did not name Australia or any other nation directly.

“As a significant power, the way that China treats its partners is important for us,” she said.

We may suppose this and everything else in the speech has the PM’s blessing.  Jacinda Ardern has been remarkably quiet since her Foreign Minister delivered the speech and our allies reacted.

3 thoughts on “The view of Mahuta’s speech from across the Tasman: we are selling out our neighbours – and the West – to pander to Beijing

  1. No surprise. Miss Ardern is a communist so hardly surprising she supports China. It would appear that Mrs Mahuta is also a communist after that dreadful speech. To mention mythical creatures like taniwha in a speech is shameful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Of course this speech would have Ardern’s blessing. She is no doubt very aware she needs China’s support for her aspirations to a high UN office. Forget New Zealand’s interests.

    Liked by 2 people

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