Friday, June 14, 2024

Chinese ambassador to NZ critical of AUKUS Pillar Two

Must read

The Chinese ambassador to New Zealand has issued a stern warning over AUKUS as NZ explores the possibility of joining Pillar Two of the US-led security pact.

Speaking at the China Business Summit in Auckland today, Ambassador Wang Xiaolong spoke about China’s economic outlook and its trade relationship with New Zealand.

It comes as the Government considers joining AUKUS’s non-nuclear second pillar, which would move New Zealand further away from China – our biggest trade partner.

AUKUS is a deal between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States under which Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines for its defence force. The stated aim of Pillar Two is about sharing advanced technology, like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The tech could also include drones or support systems for hypersonic weapons.

In his speech, Wang said China and New Zealand’s relationship was at a “critical juncture”.

“Profound changes are taking place both in the international environment and in our respective countries,” he said.

He was heavily critical of AUKUS and said it would only serve to heighten tensions in the region.

“The sole purpose of the second pillar is to serve and support nuclear-related military cooperation under the first pillar rather than being an innocent platform for technology sharing,” he said.

Ambassador Wang Xiaolong was heavily critical of AUKUS and said it would only serve to heighten tensions in the region.

“Many people in New Zealand and beyond believe that joining such an alliance in whatever form is indeed taking sides.”

He said China respected the sovereignty of other nations, including the development of their foreign policy.

“Military alliances are better at winning wars rather than keeping the peace,” he cautioned.

“By binding others, and even entire regions, to the war chariot of countries seeking hegemony, military alliances tend to exacerbate confrontation and trigger, escalate, and expand the conflict rather than the contrary.”

Wang criticised countries that see China as aggressive – and said it was only being “responsive” and “defensive” in the face of “provocations”.

“China is not a threat to New Zealand, rather, as has been pointed out by both the Prime Minister [Christopher Luxon] and Minister [Todd] McClay, China represents for New Zealand an opportunity and a mutually beneficial partner.”

He said the AUKUS alliance was less about sharing technology and more about supporting a nuclear standoff in the region, but it was ultimately “up to New Zealand” as to what happens next.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said there were “powerful reasons” for New Zealand to join Pillar Two of AUKUS as he met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month.

But Peters later said in a speech that the Government was still a “long way from this point of being able to make a decision”.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. File photo.

Wang also talked about China’s economy and said it was an “important powerhouse” driving global growth “for many years to come”.

He said the growth comes as the West attempts to put pressure on its economy.

“Despite the constant technological blockades, embargoes and protectionist measures levelled against Chinese companies by the US-led efforts to erect ever higher walls around allegedly small yards that keep expanding.”

Speaking about China’s economic outlook, Wang said: “Intriguingly, there are now, in some Anglo-Saxon media, two diametrically opposing narratives”.

“One says that China has already peaked as an economy, and some nay-sayers even come to the conclusion that China is on the brink of imminent collapse.

“The other narrative says that the Chinese economy is so strong it threatens to flood the rest of the world market with its overcapacity.”

He said: “By common sense, these two opposing narratives can’t also be right at the same time.

“They are, in fact, both wrong.”

Trade Minister Todd McClay

Speaking to Q+A yesterday morning, Trade Minister Todd McClay said he wouldn’t expect there to be any implications for New Zealand’s trade with China if the Government were to sign up to AUKUS Pillar Two.

“I don’t expect that there would be as long as we’re open and talking about the reasons that we are doing these things,” he replied.

“One of the most challenging things for any country, in the world, is when things happen as a surprise, and they don’t understand.”

Latest article