New Zealand is engaging in a much closer relationship with China, its largest trading partner, and putting its key western allies on the backburner. New Zealand, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence community along with the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, is now saying that it will not allow the intelligence alliance to dictate its dealings with China.
The Five Eyes emerged from alliances that were forged during the Second World War that has sought to expand coordination to fight against the threat posed by Chinese authoritarianism and claims to global hegemony. New Zealand is not comfortable with criticizing its largest trading partner, and has sought to distance itself from the move.
“New Zealand’s foreign minister said she would not allow the intelligence alliance to dictate the country’s dealings with China, putting it at odds with the other members,” the Telegraph reports. “New Zealand’s attempts to now distance itself from the Five Eyes alliance will inevitably open up [Prime Minister Jacinda] Ardern to allegations that her administration is ignoring abuses in Hong Kong and against Uyghur Muslims in order to preserve and grow its trading relationship with China.”
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta expressed discomfort with expanding the scope of the country’s involvement in the Five Eyes to fight against communist China, on which it is economically dependent.
“We have raised with Five Eyes partners that we are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes relationship,” Mahuta said. “We would much rather prefer looking for multilateral opportunities to express our interests on a number of issues.”
“New Zealand has been very clear not to invoke the Five Eyes as the first point of contact on messaging out on a range of issues that really exist outside of the remit of the Five Eyes,” Mahuta added. “We have not favored that type of approach and have expressed that to Five Eyes partners. What we would prefer is looking for other supports in the region that may or may not be those countries.”
Earlier this year, New Zealand refrained from joining a statement from other members of the Five Eyes condemning China’s crackdown in Hong Kong.