Wellington New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday criticized human rights violations in China. Ardern said in a conversation with representatives of politics and business in Auckland that New Zealand had expressed its concern about China and also addressed the status of the Uygar minority in Xinjiang province.
“As China’s role in the world grows and changes, it becomes more difficult to bridge the gap between our systems and the interests and values between those systems,” Ardern said.
The Prime Minister’s term of choice was moderate compared to other heads of government, but it nonetheless meant a departure from previous dealings with China, New Zealand’s most important trading partner. In the past, Ardern avoided direct criticism of Beijing.
New Zealand under pressure
New Zealand has come under pressure in the Five Eyes Secret Service Alliance because it refused to talk with its partners on human rights issues in China. In addition to New Zealand, the alliance includes the USA, Great Britain, Australia and Canada.
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Stephen Knox, director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Auckland, said he would not have expected such words from New Zealand a few years ago. New Zealand would like to tell the partners in Five Eyes that it is not yielding despite being economically dependent on China. Nevertheless, it should not be expected that the statements would have a negative impact on the trade relations of the two countries.