Heather du Plessis-Allan: Is this the start of a new position from NZ on China?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Nov 2020, 4:33PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Is this the start of a new position from NZ on China?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Nov 2020, 4:33PM

Very interesting position taken by New Zealand today on the situation in Hong Kong. 

The political tension’s been high there for a few months and it reached a new level last week with mainland China ejecting four opposition lawmakers from the Hong Kong legislative council. 

Today, the foreign ministers of all five members of the Five Eyes alliance put out a quite strongly-worded text criticising China's "concerted campaign to silence all critical voices" in Hong Kong. 

This is quite a big move from New Zealand given that in the past we have tended to be a bit softer in our approach than the more bullish members of this alliance. 

You might recall in July when we suspended our extradition treaty with Hong Kong, we were almost the last to do so.

We do this deliberately to be able to give China a telling off, without being seen to gang up on them with the rest of the Five Eyes guys 

And China notices it. 

So the question is what has caused us to take a different approach this time? 

Is it that Nanaia Mahuta as a new, inexperienced foreign minister is taking a much more bullish approach to China? 

Is it that, as predicted, the pressure is really going to get ratcheted up on US allies in the final days of the Trump administration as he starts to perhaps behave more erratically in his frustration? 

Or is that we have just got so frustrated with China because it’s ignored all the condemnation of its actions in Hong Kong? 

Either way, we know China can be tough on those who criticise.  We just to look again at what’s happening with Australia.  They’re in a war of words again today, with Australian exporters having trouble getting products into China in the last few months. 

For us, the good news is that we seem to have plenty to have curried plenty of favour thus far in our relationship with China, so perhaps we can afford to make a stronger statement from time to time. 

But then as is it a one-off, or is it a new approach from a new foreign minister?