How to treat Australia and New Zealand
Global Times (环球时报)
08 April 2019

The following is a translation of an editorial published by the PRC state-owned tabloid, Global Times (环球时报). The editorial discusses the differences in Australia and New Zealand’s respective China policies, and how the PRC should respond.

 

Editorial: Treat Australia and New Zealand differently, let the world better understand China

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a whirlwind visit to China on Monday (1 April), but the visit was clearly successful. Judging from officially disclosed information, both leaders attach great importance to the relationship, they affirmed that it has always been at the forefront of relations between China and the West, and that it has produced a number of firsts. Relations which were not so harmonious over the past year have undoubtedly changed with this visit.

 

It is particularly worth noting that China emphasised cooperation to create a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory business environment for investment between the two countries. New Zealand said it welcomes investment by Chinese companies, and that it would not discriminate against any company from any country.

 

In addition to Australia taking the lead among Western countries last year to publicly say Huawei equipment would be excluded from the country’s 5G network, the announcement last November by New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau that Huawei equipment was insecure was believed to be a signal that it would follow Australia’s exclusion. However, Prime Minister Ardern said this February that the government had not made a final decision. Her statement in Beijing can be seen as an echo of this.

 

New Zealand was one of the first Western countries to sign a free trade agreement with China. It was also one of the first countries to join the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) and has been positive about the Belt and Road Initiative. It followed Australia in making a negative statement on the issue of China’s cooperation with South Pacific last year. The same is true for the Huawei issue. New Zealand is under great pressure from both the United States and Australia on China. But it is different from Australia, since its attitude is more pragmatic.

 

China has to treat New Zealand and Australia differently, and will concentrate more pressure on Australia. Australia sees itself as a middle-sized power and a large country in its region. It intends to use the support of the US to achieve greater geopolitical ambitions. Therefore, it is the most prominent among Western countries on the China issue. New Zealand is a country that places greater emphasis on its economic interests.

 

But repairing New Zealand’s position on China depends not only on what Prime Minister Ardern says, but also on what her government actually does. The New Zealand government’s final attitude toward Huawei can be seen as a litmus test for its promise not to discriminate against PRC companies.

 

The United Kingdom has relaxed its attitude on Huawei, as have most other European countries. The possibility exists for New Zealand, which is nominally under the UK, to imitate its independent Huawei policy. New Zealand has clearly seen that the US-Australian boycott of Huawei is not just about security concerns, but is a geopolitical action which it is not interested in getting drawn into.

 

As a small island country in the South Pacific, New Zealand is naturally insecure and that makes it difficult to give up the protection of the US and Australia. But its real dilemma is the hijacking of its largest trading relationship by the US and Australia. China needs to take action so that New Zealand does not follow their policy toward China.

 

Australia is actually alone in the West. It is not only geographically on its periphery, but is also often regarded as insufficiently pure in its Western culture. Besides the Five Eyes alliance, it is not in other major Western organisations. It needs Asia. As long as China maintains a long-term indifference to Australia, it is enough to make it feel alienated strategically.

 

China must be clear that we cannot be as objectively friendly with every country, and differences will always exist. China must use far distant Oceania as a place to test and demonstrate its foreign relations. As a big country, China has both principles and a bottom line. Treating Australia and New Zealand differently will have a positive effect on consolidating China’s prestige and soft power.

 

Translation by: Chris Lanzit, NAATI Certified Professional Translator (Chinese-English), NAATI Practitioner ID: CPN0BC84W

Date of Translation: 8 April 2019

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