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”
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”
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”