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Cosy China-New Zealand relations cannot be taken for granted, Beijing’s ambassador warns

  • Ambassador Wang Xiaolong issues thinly veiled warning as leaders of NZ and the US release joint statement on South China Sea, human rights and Solomon Islands

  • China’s foreign ministry says it hopes ‘New Zealand will adhere to its independent foreign policy’

By Jun Mai in Beijing

June 3, 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand speaks to the press after meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

China’s envoy to New Zealand warned on Tuesday that cosy ties with Beijing should not be “taken for granted”, hours after Wellington and Washington issued a joint statement underscoring “the importance of peace and stability” in the Taiwan Strait.

“In China, there is widespread cognisance of New Zealand as a green, clean, open and friendly country. This very positive national branding is one of the most valuable assets of our relationship, and arguably the most potent marketing tool for all products and services from New Zealand,” said Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese ambassador, during a speech at the New Zealand China Council on Tuesday.

“We have to keep in mind, though, that this asset of ours did not come out of nowhere or as a matter of course, but has been slowly built up with hard work over the years from both sides. Nor can it be taken for granted.”

Wang’s thinly veiled warning came hours after Wellington and Washington issued a joint statement during a visit to the United States by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The statement covers a wide range of issues in the region that have upset Beijing.

The statement said the two countries reaffirmed their support for freedom of navigation and flight over the South China Sea and beyond, and expressed “grave concerns” about reported human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese ambassador to New Zealand. Photo: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

It added that the two emphasised the significance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.

New Zealand and the US also noted with concern the security agreement between China and Solomon Islands.

The remarks in the statement were “out of ulterior motives to create disinformation and attack and discredit China”, said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday.

“We hope New Zealand will adhere to its independent foreign policy and do more to enhance security and mutual trust among regional countries and safeguard regional peace and stability,” he said.

He added that the remarks “reflect the deep-rooted US hegemonic mentality”.


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