NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there is a "maturity" in New Zealand's relationship with China, its biggest trading partner, which her government believes enables it to raise issues of concern, amid simmering tensions between Beijing and the West.
"New Zealand has always been very consistent in saying regardless of that economic relationship, we do still believe that we have the maturity in our relationship to raise issues that we are concerned about - be it human rights issues, be it labour issues, be it environmental issues," Ms Ardern told US news programme Meet The Press in an interview set to air on Sunday (Nov 7).
"It's very important to us that we continue to be able to do that and do that regardless of those trading ties."
The New Zealand leader also said she welcomed signals from the United States of greater engagement in the Indo-Pacific, including a "physical presence, being part of important talks in our region".
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said on Nov 3 that New Zealand's relationship with China was one that was respectful, predictable and consistent, but recognised the assertion of China within the Indo-Pacific region.
"We are very clear around things we can work together on, and we are increasingly becoming very clear about the things we do not and cannot agree on, much of which was in the human rights space," Ms Mahuta said.
New Zealand's Parliament in May declared that severe human rights abuses were taking place against the Uighur people in China's Xinjiang region. The Chinese Embassy criticised the declaration as interference in internal affairs.