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New Zealand

New Zealand maintains ‘friend and partner’ status with China

diplomatic issue

Chris Hipkins’ refusal to follow the U.S. lead and label Mr. Xi as a “dictator” is certainly getting attention in Beijing, writes political editor Joe Moir. .

analysis: Chris Hipkins summed up his meeting with Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday as pleasant, warm, constructive and never hostile.

For a prime minister who calls himself a novice in foreign policy after five months in office, it’s no surprise that Mr. Hipkins stuck to the point in his opening remarks with Mr. Xi.

He focused the 40-minute discussion on the positive side (economic ties) and mentioned the negative side (human rights abuses and China’s growing claim to the Pacific) without emphasizing it.

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Going into someone else’s house and picking a fight is completely different from diplomacy. Especially when there was no established relationship between the two, it was expressed in the newsroom.

“There was a relatively open dialogue on a range of issues of mutual interest between New Zealand and China,” Hipkins told the media.

On more troubling topics, he said New Zealand’s position was “mentioned without going into detail”, but Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta visited him earlier this year in Beijing to discuss some of these issues. He added that he went deeper into the department.

“One or two words cannot describe our relationship.”
– Chris Hipkins, Prime Minister

During a press conference with New Zealand media at the Beijing embassy shortly after the bilateral talks, Hipkins cautioned against speaking on behalf of Xi or revealing issues raised by Xi’s side.

The newsroom understands that Mr. Xi emphasized China’s position that domestic issues are matters of individual countries and should not be publicly commented on by other countries, but this does not mean that Mr. Xi is a dictator. It is a deliberate nod to Mr. Hipkins, who avoided characterizing it as

Ahead of his visit to China this week, Hipkins was asked if he agreed with U.S. President Joe Biden, who called Mr. Xi a dictator days after Secretary of State Anthony Brinken traveled to Beijing to meet Mr. Xi. rice field.

Hipkins had no prior knowledge that Biden had made the comment, so when asked about it, he had to follow his gut rather than carefully scripted official comments.

He disagrees with Mr. Biden, saying he thinks such labeling is useless, and China has given Mr. Hipkins brownie points, while at the same time receiving no backlash from the United States.

The meeting preceded speculation that Xi would emphasize the government’s close ties with the United States and challenge New Zealand’s growing alliances with Western powers, particularly on intra-Pacific affairs. was flowing.

Preparing for a bilateral meeting between the leaders of New Zealand and China at the Great Hall of the People.Photo: Nate McKinnon/Pool

But it didn’t make headlines, and Mr. Hipkins’ distance between New Zealand and the United States just before the trip was clearly noted and appreciated in Beijing.

Hipkins sometimes resembles a bilingual speaker when he walks the tightrope as a natural, outspoken and outspoken politician with the diplomatic skills needed in foreign affairs.

Midway through Tuesday night’s press conference, Hipkins apparently attempted to directly answer questions about what was discussed at the meeting, but had to pause and translate his answers into something more nuanced and ambiguous.

Faced with a change in communication style, he initially meant that he refused to respond to Xi’s “friend and partner” summary for New Zealand.

After answering follow-up questions and making a few more attempts, Hipkins found what he was looking for. It said that “one or two words can never describe the relationship”, but that “yes, in general” New Zealand and China are related. friends or partners.

This characterization of Xi was exactly what former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said when she held bilateral talks with Xi on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Thailand in November.

Hipkins said he found Xi easy to talk to on a personal level, a remarkable feat given that they were interacting from a table about six meters away.

It was by no means a welcoming environment, and after first stating that the whole thing was quite comfortable, he admitted that the building was “terrifying”.

A smile before a seated meeting.Photo: Nate McKinnon/Pool

Once the adrenaline wears off, Hipkins might look back on the day differently. But for the time being, he seems to have taken the experience personally and treated it like a trip to the Upper Hutt Cossy Club.

In November, when asked whether her meeting with Xi had been a victory, Ardern said it was not the words she used, but rather “progress.”

Asked the same question in the newsroom on Tuesday, Hipkins said there were limits to how much progress could be made in the 40-minute high-level talks, but that “international relations are always a work in progress.” rice field.

Hipkins may not have claimed victory on record, but it was clear he was celebrating a good day in his office, as he enjoyed a barbecue and wine with a business delegation at the embassy afterwards. rice field.

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/nz-keeps-friend-and-partner-status-with-china New Zealand maintains ‘friend and partner’ status with China

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