The Prime Minister has been attempting to defend her handling of the meeting with the Malaysian Prime Minister, following his apparently quite forthright comments on the South China Sea. She parrots a line about not taking sides in the dispute, but surely she knows that when you don’t take sides between a bully and his (or her) victim you side with the bully. And when you say
New Zealand’s position on the issue had been “utterly consistent”, and the country had never taken sides, she said, adding all claimants should uphold international law, and the law of the sea.
and yet fail to point out which party – the PRC – consistently refuses to uphold international law in this area, you make yourself a party to the abuse, the aggression, aiding the new status quo in which the PRC has taken control. It really is like not taking sides when Germany takes Czechoslovakia or Poland.
But perhaps journalists could also ask the Prime Minister to explain New Zealand’s absence from this list
Australia, Canada, and the European Union as a whole, but not New Zealand, are part of an approach to Beijing over the abuses in Xinjiang.
Life – even foreign policy – really has to be more than the sums of the deals, or the sum of the donations.
The Government’s stance is these areas – much the same as the Opposition’s – shames us.
UPDATE: A reader sends me this (I’m not sure from which publication)
“We decided not to sign it because we have raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang directly with Chinese authorities,” a spokesman for Ardern told Newsroom when asked if New Zealand had joined the protest.
“New Zealand concerns have been registered by the Prime Minister with senior counterparts, including yesterday with Premier Li. Concerns have also been raised at officials’ level, including through New Zealand’s bilateral human rights dialogue with China, and at the UN in Geneva,” the spokesman said.
This is pathetic. As if none of the other countries has made direct or bilateral comments, and – as noted here – other countries (including the US, UK, and Australia) were much more visible and vocal at the recent UN human rights review on China. There are those old lines about “stronger together”, and people being known by the company they keep. I don’t think trade agreements and the like should drive our policy stances – our values should – but you have to wonder what the EU (with whom New Zealand wants to sign of an agreement) makes of a New Zealand government so supine it won’t join its (erstwhile) friends in this process. Perhaps unilateralism is an option for the US, but it is the same Prime Minister who regularly reminds us, and the world, about the merits of acting together. Just not when it comes to never ever upsetting Beijing?