NZ Herald regards NZ and China as allies – but this doesn’t gel with the PM saying our allegiances are with like-minded countries

“Nothing like  a  trip abroad   to  put  a  spring in the  PM’s  step” – or so said the  sub-heading  on  a  report  in  the   NZ  Herald   on  Saturday  of Jacinda  Ardern’s  visit  to  the United  States, a  visit  which  by  most accounts  was  successful  in its  primary   aim of reviving contacts with  both  political  and  business  leaders.

Political editor Claire Trevett put it aptly:

“NZ was looking for new growth in its relationship with the US after the pause of the Trump era”.

New Zealanders, too, were chuffed at  the  success  of  the  PM’s  mission,  her  popularity  with  the  Americans  she met,  and  especially her chat with President  Joe  Biden.  The applause she won for her address at Harvard University in itself  was  remarkable, and   probably  stimulated  Trevett  to  note that:

“The Ardern in the US was a stark contrast to the Ardern we have seen in New Zealand in recent months”.

So, will  we  see Ardern back  at the  top  of  her  form,  now  she  is home  again? Continue reading “NZ Herald regards NZ and China as allies – but this doesn’t gel with the PM saying our allegiances are with like-minded countries”

Yes, Mahuta has been mute on China’s Pacific manoeuvres, but maybe she awaits a steer from our White House-bound PM

National’s  Gerry  Brownlee  had  a  free   hit  on Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta,  whom  he  sees as   missing  in  action as  China  makes its  moves  to  become a dominant power in  the  Pacific.  These moves – potentially – pose a  security threat  to  Australia  and  New Zealand.

While  foreign  affairs  experts  are  expressing  alarm  and calling  on  the  government  to  urgently repair NZ’s  run-down defences, specifically  equipping  our  army  with  missiles  and  drones, there  is  silence  from both  Mahuta and Defence  Minister Peeni Henare.

Brownlie  says Mahuta

“….needs to front up and explain what she’ll be doing to salvage New Zealand’s relationship with the Pacific.

“Last week, we heard that China is seeking a sweeping agreement with ten Pacific Island countries, covering everything from national security to climate change and education. Three countries have already signed up or indicated their support; the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Samoa. Continue reading “Yes, Mahuta has been mute on China’s Pacific manoeuvres, but maybe she awaits a steer from our White House-bound PM”

Why exporters should consider decoupling from China and focus more on opportunities provided by India’s growth

Not many New Zealanders   may  have  noticed what is  happening in China or India – but their   economies  appear  to  be  tracking  in  opposite  directions.  Those movements could have a powerful  impact in  turn   on  NZ’s  economic fortunes.

Point   of  Order  is  indebted   to   two  remarkable   pieces  of  journalism  for   insights  that give  context to these issues.  One  report appeared in  the  Guardian  Weekly,  the  other in  The  Economist.

The  first, by  Larry Elliott,  was headed “Stifled dragon: No-one  should take  delight in Beijing’s  economic  woes”  and argues  a  full-blown   economic crash  would be  as  damaging  to  the  world as  the  US sub-prime mortgage crisis  was.

The  report in  The  Economist focused  on  India’s  economy  which, it  said, is  likely  to be the  world’s fastest-growing big  economy this year.  The  details prompted  The Economist  to  editorialise  that   the  Indian  economy  is  being  rewired.

“The  opportunity  is  immense— and so  are  the  stakes”.

The question  for NZ  exporters, who  have  become  dangerously dependent on  the Chinese  market  is  whether  they should   now  be  exploring prospects   on the Indian  sub-continent.

Larry Elliott  wrote  that  China has  been  central to the  story of  globalisation over the  past  30  years,  but  now  it is  struggling.

More  than two years after  Covid19  cases  were  discovered  in Wuhan,  the  world’s  most  populous country has  yet to get on  top of the  virus. Continue reading “Why exporters should consider decoupling from China and focus more on opportunities provided by India’s growth”

Here’s hoping Ardern gets to meet Biden during US trade visit – and O’Connor finds time to check out gene-editing benefits

New Zealand’s  export industries are looking  to a  new  era in the  wake of life returning to something like  normal in international markets.

The  Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, will head a  mission to the  US to promote trade and tourism opportunities in our third largest export and visitor market, saying this is part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19.

Ardern  is  certain  to  attract  international  attention   with  her  scheduled commencement address at the 371st Harvard University Commencement ceremony.

But the  more  crucial engagement will  be  at  the  White  House for  talks  with  President Biden,  who is now in Asia. Continue reading “Here’s hoping Ardern gets to meet Biden during US trade visit – and O’Connor finds time to check out gene-editing benefits”

Aussie election result result opens the way for a revitalisation of the Anzac partnership

Australia’s  election,  thrusting  the ALP  and  its leader Anthony Albanese  back  into  a  governing  role, offers  the Ardern government a fresh  opportunity  to blow  the  cobwebs  off the  Anzac partnership.

During  the  last  years  of the Liberal era,  the once-strong Trans-Tasman relationship appeared  to  cool.  Australia’s deportation policy under   the  notorious  501  provision  of  its  immigration law has  become a sore  point  and  the  Liberal government under  Scott  Morrison planned  to increase  the flow  of  Kiwi deportees, much  to  Wellington’s chagrin.

Australia and NZ share similar goals  in  trade and defence, but these, too, need a fresh polish.  The world during the Covid  era  has  been changing  rapidly, and now the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created  a deep tension in global relationships.

China – in  signing a pact with the  Solomon Islands that  will  enable it to establish  a  base  in that territory – has shaken both NZ  and  Australia  out of  their Pacific  complacency.

In the John Key  era, the Trans-Tasman  relationship had  a  warm  glow  to  it,  even  when the  ALP  had  command  in  Canberra. There  was never  any  doubt  that  Australia and  NZ  marched  in  lockstep on  issues  of  mutual interest. Continue reading “Aussie election result result opens the way for a revitalisation of the Anzac partnership”

Where Boris goes, we go – govt deployment to help Ukraine is agreed in response to UK request for logistical support

“NZ troops to  help Ukraine”  blared the   headline on the Dominion-Post’s  front page this morning.  Full  marks   for phrasing  it  so  delicately.

The Ardern  government, which  only  last  week  appeared  to   be  stepping  back from  considering  what it  called  “lethal aid”  to  war-torn Ukraine, reversed  that  stand on  Monday.  Now  it is  dispatching  one  of  its     Hercules  to  Europe with  around 50 service  personnel.

Cabinet  looked  at  sending a  contingent  of  LAVs,   and  also Javelin  missile launchers, but  set  those  aside.

Announcing  the  deployment, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern  said: Continue reading “Where Boris goes, we go – govt deployment to help Ukraine is agreed in response to UK request for logistical support”

Keeping an eye on China and the Solomons – let’s hope the PM’s concerns are translated into appropriate Defence policy

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the  “draft agreement”   for a move  by  China  to station  military forces  on the  Solomon Islands   is  “gravely  concerning” .

Foreign Minister  Nanaia Mahuta is  similarly  exercised,  but  whether  Defence  Minister  Peeni Henare feels the  same  concern has  yet  to be  disclosed,  although  Point  of  Order  believes  the issue  may  have been discussed  with Australia’s  Peter Dutton   when Henare visited  Canberra  last week.

Before   his  meeting  with  Henare, Dutton said it  was a  standing agenda  item  “for  all of  us  to be  realistic  about  China’s  footprint, their  exertion,  their  pressure  and the  way  in which  they conduct their  business”.

Whether   the  same  measure of  realism has  developed  in  Wellington is  far  from certain.

While  Australia  is  busy  beefing  up  outlays  on  its  defence systems,  that  is  not  the  case  with the  Ardern government  and  morale  in  NZ defence   forces  is  said to be at a  low  ebb.

What  may  dismay New Zealanders  is  that  any   concern  over  China’s  planning  for  a  military  base  in the  Solomons  will not  be  followed up  by  a  prompt review  of the  state of  NZ’s  own military  capability. Continue reading “Keeping an eye on China and the Solomons – let’s hope the PM’s concerns are translated into appropriate Defence policy”

NZ was not part of QUAD talks in Melbourne – but don’t we share the same concerns and values?

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has  completed  a  mission  in the  Pacific   that included   visits  to Melbourne, Fiji  and Hawaii, and  high-level talks with ministers  from Australia, India, Japan, and  South  Korea, primarily  on security  issues.

He  was  there, as he told a  press  conference in Melbourne, primarily   on  issues to ensure “a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Or,   as commentators  said,  to turn back the  threat  of an increasingly aggressive  China  through  the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) alliance  consisting  of the US, India, Japan and  Australia.

As   Blinken  argues, the  Indo-Pacific is the most dynamic region in the world, with the three fastest growing economies and half the world’s population. Continue reading “NZ was not part of QUAD talks in Melbourne – but don’t we share the same concerns and values?”

While we fret about Covid, we risk forgetting about the Ukraine – but the PM has popped up to let Russia know we are watching …

Prime  Minister Jacinda Ardern has  at  last  broken  her silence  on  the tension that  has developed  over  the imminent  invasion of  the Ukraine  by Russia.

According to RNZ, she has shared concerns with the EU about the situation and said there was a need to reinforce the sovereignty of Ukraine.

She told the President of the EU Council last night that the New Zealand Government would be watching closely and take any steps required to keep calling for de-escalation.

While there was no autonomous sanctions regime, Ardern said the government had other measures it would use if it saw any activity in breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The risk of armed conflict in Eastern Europe reached a dangerous level on Tuesday, as the United States placed 8500 soldiers on “heightened preparedness” for deployment. The Pentagon said it was clear Russia had “no intention” of backing down from its aggression – an apparent plan to invade Ukraine.

That  day Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta  said New Zealand was deeply concerned about “the continuing and unprecedented build-up of Russian military forces on its border with Ukraine”.

Then Ardern called on Russia to reduce the “risk of a severe miscalculation”.  NZ could retaliate “if we see any breach of what we believe is the Ukraine’s  sovereignty”. Continue reading “While we fret about Covid, we risk forgetting about the Ukraine – but the PM has popped up to let Russia know we are watching …”

Mahuta is off (at long last) to visit six countries and host a festival of indigenous and tribal ideas at Expo in Dubai

Excitement is mounting in the Beehive.  Nanaia Mahuta is contemplating her first overseas visit as our Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Not, we might think, to Australia or the Pacific Islands (although she will drop in on the Aussies on the outward journey).

No, this is further afield, to host Te Aratini at Expo 2020 and visit six countries as well as meet with seven foreign ministers and a range of international representatives.

She announced yesterday she will leave New Zealand tomorrow

“… on an international programme to advance Aotearoa New Zealand’s interests on a range of issues, including our COVID-19 response and recovery and engagement in the Indo-Pacific.”

She acknowledged this is the first international visit of a New Zealand Foreign Minister since COVID-19 broke out across the globe. Continue reading “Mahuta is off (at long last) to visit six countries and host a festival of indigenous and tribal ideas at Expo in Dubai”