New Zealand’s Ardern urges China to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine

New Zealand has toughened its tone recently on both security and Beijing's growing presence in the South Pacific. PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday (Aug 1) urged China to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying Beijing has benefited from international rules and has a duty to uphold them.

“As history shows us repeatedly, when large countries disregard sovereignty and territorial integrity with a sense of impunity, it does not bode well particularly for small countries like New Zealand,” Ardern said in a speech to the China Business Summit in Auckland. 

“And that’s why as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and in line with its commitment to the UN Charter, we continue to urge China to be clear that it does not support the Russian invasion, and have called on China to use its access and influence to help bring an end to the conflict.” 

Ardern said the implications of the war in Ukraine are global and are felt far from Europe, including in the Indo-Pacific. 

She repeated her call for an adherence to international rules and norms, which she said China has benefited greatly from.  

Looking back over the past 50 years, “it is clear that China and New Zealand have both been major beneficiaries of relative peace, stability and prosperity in our region and globally,” Ardern said. 

“The rules, norms and institutions, such as the United Nations, that underlie that stability and prosperity remain indispensable.” 

She praised China’s “remarkable development” as a result of reform and opening up to the global economy, saying no single country has contributed more to the alleviation of poverty than China. 

The premier also highlighted areas of cooperation between Wellington and Beijing, even “as China becomes more assertive in the pursuit of its interests”. 

“There are areas where both sides benefit, such as trade and agriculture. There are also areas that matter deeply to New Zealand, and where China and New Zealand’s interests or world view differ,” Ardern said. 

“Our differences need not define us. But we cannot ignore them. This will mean continuing to speak out on some issues – sometimes with others and sometimes alone.” 

She noted her recent comments about “issues in the Pacific” and said New Zealand has “consistently expressed our concerns about economic coercion, human rights, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong”. 

Ardern concluded her speech by saying she hopes to lead a business delegation to China when its Covid-19 provisions make a trip possible.

New Zealand has toughened its tone recently on both security and Beijing’s growing presence in the South Pacific, in part due to the signing of a security pact between China and Solomon Islands earlier in the year. But at the same time New Zealand remains dependent on trade with China.

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