The anger from commentators in some Five Eyes countries at Nanaia Mahuta’s New Zealand-China speech appears to completely over-hyped.
There has been all manner of shrill commentary, from editorials in UK newspapers suggesting our allies are considering kicking us out of the Five Eyes spy alliance, to Andrew Bolt of Sky New Australia accusing us of "selling out Australia and the West to keep sweet with the genocidal Chinese dictatorship, which is its big trade partner”.
Yeah, look, we are clearly putting trade first, at least ahead of Five Eyes demands that we issue joint statements having a go at china over human rights abuses.
And why wouldn’t we? We are the most exposed of any of the Five Eyes countries to China if they decide to punish us through trade.
What Australia’s going through with tariffs is nothing compared to what China could do to our economy, given how reliant we are on them.
And no one should be so naive to think that our allies - the US, Australia, Canada and Britain - are putting out communiqués on human rights abuses because they really care about Uighur Muslims or the Hong Kong crack down.
If they did really care, they’d do more than talk about it. They are, brutally, just using these issues to have a go at China publicly.
Frankly, it’s unlikely that we’re going to lose our place in the Five Eyes spy alliance. More likely that is a threat in the hope that we fall into line.
But we shouldn’t just blindly fall into line with our allies.
One of the angry UK columnists claims that we nearly got kicked out of five eyes in 2003 because Helen Clark refused to participate in the invasion of Iraq.
Well, can anyone really say we should have participated in an invasion now widely accepted as illegal?
Good on us for having an independent foreign policy, also known as thinking for ourselves.
Frankly, Mahuta was on the money with her speech. We don’t need to pick sides yet. At some stage we might have to, but as long as we don’t have to, we shouldn’t be forced to.
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