New Zealand’s new foreign minister is said to be ‘naive’ for bidding a halt to Australia and China’s worsening trade strand
- Canberra-Beijing relations have deteriorated rapidly over 2020
- Scott Morrison has spoken to Xi Jinping since the G20 summit in Japan
- New Zealand’s foreign minister has offered to start talks between countries
New Zealand’s new foreign minister has been named ‘naive’ after he offered peace offer between Australia and China.
Nanaia Mahuta, who became the first Maori woman to take over when she was appointed by Jacinda Ardern last month, said her government could help bring Canberra and Beijing to the table.
Scott Morrison has spoken to President Xi Jinping since the G20 summit in Japan last June as the diplomatic controversy of the nations does not show that they are easing.
Nanaia Mahuta became the first Maori woman to take on the role of foreign minister when she was appointed by Jacinda Ardern (pictured together)
Ms Mahuta, 50, said the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference next year provided New Zealand with an opportunity to help ease tensions.
‘Do I believe there may be an opportunity for New Zealand to create a different environment and have a conversation? Yes, I do, ‘said Ms Mahuta.
‘And I think hosting APEC may be the opportunity … but both parties need to be willing to come together and comply in some areas where they are not currently see eye to eye. ‘
But Liberal MP Dave Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel, said it was ‘naive’ to think tension could be easily reduced.
‘I’m sure this is in good faith, but seriously .. ??’ he wrote on Twitter before describing the offer as ‘naive’.
Australia-China relations have deteriorated sharply after Mr Morrison called for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus identified in Wuhan at the end of last year.
Scott Morrison has spoken to President Xi Jinping (pictured collectively) since last year’s G20 summit in Japan in June as the countries’ diplomatic controversy does not show that they are easing
The Chinese Ambassador in Canberra has released a file of 14 complaints including allegations that Australia is ‘US-side’ and submits the transactions in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Other complaints included Australia’s decision to ban Chinese telecoms company Huawei from the country’s 5G network and to ban foreign investment applications with Chinese companies.
Last month Beijing suspended Australian exports importing coal and seafood before imposing a 212 percent tariff on Aussie wine, effectively banning production.
The tension was exacerbated after a foreign ministry in China held a digitally manipulated image of an Australian soldier held with a bloody knife to the neck of an Afghan child citing a report on war crimes alleged by Aussie soldiers.
New Zealand raised concerns with China about the use of the image.
‘I don’t think Twitter diplomacy can be achieved when deconstruction is encouraged through social media. I think we need to go back to diplomacy that has been tried and communicated and make sure doors are open so that people can work through some challenging issues, ‘Ms Mahuta said.
Ms Mahuta recently joined peers from Five Eyes intelligence partners – Australia, the UK, Canada and the US – in criticizing China for disqualifying legislators in Hong Kong .
Ms Mahuta, 50, said next year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference gave New Zealand the opportunity to help ease tensions
This angered China which accepted accepting warnings from the Western alliance that it would get ‘poked in the eye’.
Like Australia, New Zealand has strong trade links with China but under Prime Minister Ardern’s Labor government, which won a second term in October, has criticized a loan from China to small Pacific islands, over concerns about Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of China and supported the Taiwan Participation at the World Health Organization.
Alexander Gillespie, Professor of Law at the University of Waikato, said New Zealand was still well placed to try to break some kind of quiet steps.
‘There is no guarantee that both sides will work to sit down and speak quietly.
‘It would be a long, very long road ahead – but it would go in a different direction to where we are going now,’ he said.
Who was the first Maori woman from New Zealand to be a foreign minister?
Little do we know outside of New Zealand, Nanaia Mahuta was very attractive as Ardern’s foreign minister in the country’s most diverse cabinet ever.
Her moko kauae, or face tattoo, inscribed on her chin as a symbol of her Maori heritage, has attracted much attention.
‘Curiosity is the working word,’ she said when asked how people have dealt with it.
Ms Mahuta said she sees her position as an opportunity to create a different kind of communication in the field of foreign affairs, and has had discussions with other women in foreign offices in other countries about common issues such as place women in society, gender equality and the environment.
‘I have a vision that is intergenerational, born out of culture, that firmly draws on a New Zealand context that has been completely flat if you think about the way it has been addressing indigenous issues here and our settlement history, ‘she said.
The first native Maori woman to take up the post, Ms Mahuta embraces New Zealand ‘whakapapa’ ties or a friendship that goes back to the Asian region.
‘That will allow us to conduct our relations with China a little differently than other countries,’ she said.