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”

Ardern and Biden keen to work together as US restores its relationships with world agencies

PM Jacinda Ardern’s cordial exchange with President-elect Joe Biden went far better than anyone dared hope. Both sides were pleased. As one US official said, they are certainly kindred spirits.

Biden wants to “reinvigorate” the US-NZ relationship which, considering the heights it reached under former Foreign Minister Winston Peters, means Wellington and Washington DC have finally put away any lingering resentments from the 1980s and the Anzus crisis.

Biden is keen to work with NZ on broad Pacific issues but, as he points out, the US will have to work with friends on the task.  When everyone circumspectly refers to “issues”, they really mean China with its diplomatic, economic and military ambitions in the Pacific.

Biden and his new Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken (a foreign policy veteran), want to try and reset the US-China relationship.

This week Australian PM Scott Morrison urged Washington and Beijing to “show more latitude” to smaller nations. Partners and allies needed “a bit more room to move” as strategic competition intensifies in the region. Continue reading “Ardern and Biden keen to work together as US restores its relationships with world agencies”

APEC forum will put Peters’ rebalancing policy to the test

The forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Port Moresby  is  going to provide a sharp test  for  NZ  diplomacy, in the wake of the re-assertion of a more  hard-nosed approach in  policy towards China  (as set out in  an earlier  Point of Order  post).

China is planning a  summit  of  Pacific Island   leaders  in the days  before the APEC  leaders’ meeting  with President  Xi  Jinping as its host.  This is  seen as  an  extension  of  China’s  reach  into NZ’s  Pacific neighbourhood  which prompted   NZ’s deputy PM Winston Peters to  warn  of moves by China to  fill  a  “vacuum”  in the  long-neglected  region.

Australia and New Zealand have long regarded Oceania as their backyard but China has become increasingly assertive in the region over the past decade.  Now  President  Xi   is expected to  have  a cartload of inducements  to  offer  the   cash-starved region. Continue reading “APEC forum will put Peters’ rebalancing policy to the test”