Complaints about the change in New Zealand’s attitude have arisen because of its divergence from the stand of the Five Eyes coalition in the matter of China. New Zealand is also included in this alliance of five countries. The remaining four countries are the US, Canada, UK and Australia.
Five Eyes has recently sharply criticized China over alleged human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. He has alleged that China is carrying out ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang. But New Zealand has kept its tone low on these criticisms.
However, this week New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden denied the allegation in an interview that New Zealand has not taken a “strong stand” against China on key issues. He also ruled out the possibility that New Zealand would break away from the Five Eyes alliance.
But analysts say New Zealand has avoided sharp criticism of China over the past months. Rather, Prime Minister Arden and Foreign Minister Naniya Mathua have clearly stated that New Zealand is setting its own path in terms of international relations.
Analysts say that New Zealand has been trying to strike a balance between the two sides in recent times. On the one hand, he does not want to break away from the Five Eyes alliance, but he also does not want to get into a fight with China like Australia. Significantly, China has severed trade ties with Australia, due to which Australia has suffered a lot.
In New Zealand, the opposition right-wing party has made this stand of the Arden government a big issue. Last April, it passed a resolution in parliament, demanding the government to follow the policy of the US and Canada on China.
The word ‘genocide’ was mentioned in this resolution. But Jaskind Arden’s party did not agree to use the word. So the language of the proposal had to be changed. This was followed by a debate on the issue of ‘potential human rights abuses’. Later, at the intervention of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the word ‘potential’ was removed from it.
Earlier in March, New Zealand did not agree to the use of the word ‘genocide’ in a joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand. Significantly, the US, Canada and Britain have also accused China of ‘genocide’. But New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Mathua has said ‘genocide’ is the most serious international crime. Formal conclusions in this regard should be drawn only on the basis of a thorough assessment and international law.
Experts say that the real factor behind the softening of New Zealand’s stance is trade. China imports more than a third of New Zealand’s dairy products. It is the main source of income for New Zealand.
Alexander Gillespie, an expert in international law at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, told American TV channel CNN that trade has become the biggest dilemma today. Today, the big challenge is how to protect our economy and stand on the side of human rights.