Ardern denies NZ is asleep at wheel as China pushes into Pacific & More News Here

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has denied New Zealand is asleep at the wheel as China continues its push into the Pacific.

New Zealand has been a big presence within the area for years and can proceed to be one, the prime minister instructed Breakfast on Tuesday morning.

Ardern stated Australia, New Zealand and Japan had the most important support and growth spend within the Pacific.

“In fact, for this term, we’ve increased our spend in the Pacific by 45% and that’s because of the climate need in the region,” she stated.

READ MORE: China slams NZ-US considerations over Pacific as ‘disinformation’

“If you ask the Pacific, which we do often, what is your number one priority, they’ll say it’s climate change. So we’re there on our terms, working alongside them and the nature of our relationship really matters because we are of the Pacific and that’s where we’ll always be different to some of the other relationships you see in our region.”

Ardern additionally stated New Zealand’s presence within the Pacific wasn’t missing.

“We’ve had 100 ministerial engagements or formal engagements with our Pacific island partners over this, even short, period of time,” she stated.

Ardern stated she is in frequent contact together with her counterparts and the identical goes for Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

“The measure of a relationship is not when you last arrived at their airport. That is not the nature of our relationships. They run so much deeper than that.”

Ardern additionally stated New Zealand wasn’t reaching a degree the place it must select between the US or China.

Beijing got here out firing final week after Ardern and US President Joe Biden expressed considerations over China’s safety settlement with the Solomon Islands and its wider Pacific ambitions.

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After their assembly at the White House on Wednesday, Ardern and Biden stated they shared considerations that the institution by China “of a persistent military presence in the Pacific” would “fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and pose national security concerns” for each nations.

READ MORE: Presence of China, US in Pacific ‘actuality’ of area – Robertson

“It’s never been about picking sides,” Ardern instructed Breakfast.

“It’s about focusing on the values that we have. Yes, at any given time there may be more alignment with some countries than others. At any given time there might be areas where you have strong disagreements with others.

“For us it is about all the time ensuring that we’re standing proudly on our personal two toes and letting these views be identified.”

The prime minister also denied New Zealand’s relationship with China was strained.

Ardern said none of New Zealand’s positions on issues in the region, such as on Beijing’s security agreement with the Solomon Islands, will be a surprise to China.

“We’ve been actually constant on our positions on plenty of points – militarisation of the Pacific, human rights points, they’re clear on the place we stand,” she said.

“The Pacific has had a relationship with China for years, so it is not new {that a} relationship exists. What we have been cautious about is, as a area, if it is beginning to dip into the area of defence or safety, we should always speak about that as a area. As with the latest go to from China, it hasn’t dipped into that area.

“Let’s just acknowledge the sovereignty of these Pacific nations to make their decisions as well on their terms.”

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