New Zealand is expressing concerns regarding China’s rising tensions with Taiwan, as well as human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong. New Zealand’s foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta, recently had a conversation with Chinese counterpart Qin Gang, where she highlighted concerns about developments in the South China Sea. Mahuta also addressed China’s relations with Russia, stating that Wellington would be concerned about any supply of lethal aid to Russia’s illegal war.
New Zealand had previously spoken out against China, its main trading partner, over reports of crackdowns on the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. The Pacific nation also spoke out against Chinese attempts to increase its military presence in the region. The democratically-ruled island of Taiwan continues to live under constant threat of invasion from China, which considers it part of its territory and has vowed to retake it one day. This has become a growing concern for New Zealand, as Beijing’s war drums have intensified in recent years under President Xi Jinping, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has deepened Taiwan’s fears of a Chinese invasion.
Mahuta’s recent trip to China marks the first visit to the country by a New Zealand foreign minister since 2018. She spoke with director of China’s Central Foreign Relations Commission, Wang Yi, and expressed hope that the visit would mark a resumption of “high-level” discussions between the two nations. She also noted the possibility of a visit to China by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins.
New Zealand’s concerns highlight the growing international pressure on China over its human rights abuses and aggressive foreign policy. As tensions continue to rise in the region, it remains to be seen how China will respond to these concerns and what actions it may take in the coming months.