Beijing hits back at New Zealand's Ardern after Nato comments

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives for the Nato summit in Madrid on June 29, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China has responded to New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern's warning at the Nato summit that Beijing is becoming increasingly assertive and more willing to challenge international norms.

"We have taken note of the relevant comment made by the New Zealand side at the Nato session, which includes some misguided accusations against China," a spokesman at the Chinese embassy in Wellington said in a statement on its website dated June 30.

The prime minister's comments are "wrong" and "regrettable", the statement said.

"It is obvious that such a comment is not helpful for deepening mutual trust between the two countries or for the efforts made by the two countries to keep our bilateral relations on the right track," it added.

China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April, sparking concerns it wants to increase its military presence in the Pacific region.

Ms Ardern told the Nato summit on Wednesday (June 29) in Madrid that China had "become more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms".

"We must respond to the actions we see," Ms Ardern said. "We must stand firm on the rules-based order, call for diplomatic engagement and speak out against human rights abuses at all times when and where we see them."

The embassy statement said China's goal in the Pacific was to deepen long-standing partnerships and help island countries enhance their development capacity.

"If there is indeed an escalation of tension in the Pacific, it cannot have been caused by China's cooperation with its island partners to advance sustainable development," it said.

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