NZ’s Defence relationship with China has been reset to “cosy” – but it mightn’t fit cosily with the Pacific Reset

Defence Minister Ron Mark is back in New Zealand after his  four-day  visit to  China,  clearly excited to be carrying in his bag a “Memorandum of  Arrangement”  concerning  Defence  Co-operation  with  China.

He signed  the  memorandum  with China’s Minister of National Defence, General Wei Fenghe in Beijing.

Mark  says  he  signed the arrangement  after  they reviewed the state of the defence relationship.

It  may  be  news to  many  New  Zealanders that there  is  such a   relationship.  And  given  President  Xi  Jinping  has done more  than  any of  his predecessors to make  China’s armed  forces   world-class, enabling China to  deploy precision  missiles and anti-satellite weapons  that challenge  American  supremacy  in the western  Pacific,  it  could make  defence  ministers  in the rest of the  region nervous. Continue reading “NZ’s Defence relationship with China has been reset to “cosy” – but it mightn’t fit cosily with the Pacific Reset”

When Ron Mark is speaking in China, the best form of Defence (it seems) is to refrain from attack

NZ’s  Defence Minister  Ron Mark is  visiting  China for talks  with  Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe and the vice chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, Air Chief Marshal Xu Qiliang.

Before  he   left   on his  four-day mission  he described China as  a  “key strategic  partner”,  saying he aimed to improve the relationship “and help build our understanding of the country”. He said he would discuss the security implications of climate change, and also discuss peacekeeping and disaster relief efforts.

But even though he is   renowned   for   being politically  feisty on  his home patch, it is unlikely he  would raise  with his Chinese   counterparts such  issues as  the   round of  protests   in  Hong Kong  or  the  fate  of  the   Uighurs. Continue reading “When Ron Mark is speaking in China, the best form of Defence (it seems) is to refrain from attack”

MFAT’s prestige is expected to bloom again, now the ministry has gone to Seed

Chris  Seed  has been  confirmed  as  Secretary  of  Foreign Affairs  & Trade,  as Point of Order   earlier foreshadowed.  An experienced diplomat, he succeeds  Brook Barrington  who  the State Services  Commission named as CEO of the  Department of  Prime Minister &  Cabinet.

Seed,  who  recently  returned to NZ  after  serving  a  five-year term  as High Commissioner to  Canberra,   is  expected  to   work  closely   with  Foreign  Minister   Winston Peters on his Pacific Reset   policies.

His  appointment  is  understood  to  have been  extremely  well received  by  senior staff  in MFAT, whose  morale  was  severely bruised    during the era of  John Allen   as  CEO.     It is  known  that Peters   has been   keen  to  return  MFAT   to  the   slot   it  enjoyed   before the Allen era    as one of the  key  sources of   advice  to  Cabinet, not  just  on   foreign and trade  policies but  in other   areas  of   national  security. Continue reading “MFAT’s prestige is expected to bloom again, now the ministry has gone to Seed”

Pacific Reset – what Labour really thinks about it will be seen when US ships arrive

Left-wing  blogger Chris Trotter,  in  one of his  recent essays, questions whether PM Jacinda Ardern is really running the government or is merely its figurehead.

He  cited  several  examples of the PM  appearing to be unaware  of  key policy decisions  and  questioned  whether allowing her leading Cabinet Ministers to simply get on with the job is a central feature of her management style.

I hope  not.  It would suggest that Ardern has chosen the role of figurehead rather than leader. That her job is to supply the warm and sympathetic face of the Coalition Government while the heavy-hitters of her Cabinet – Winston Peters, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Phil Twyford, Meagan Woods and Shane Jones – carry out the day-to-day business of governing the country”. Continue reading “Pacific Reset – what Labour really thinks about it will be seen when US ships arrive”