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Hartwich: China’s “bullyboy tactics” against NZ likely to backfire

Summarised by Centrist

NZ Initiative’s Oliver Hartwich observes that while professing respect for New Zealand’s independent foreign policy, China’s ambassador to NZ, Wang Xiaolong’s message was clear: 

Stay away from AUKUS or face the consequences.

However, Hartwich argues China’s “bullyboy tactics” against Wellington “may be spectacularly backfiring.”

According to Wang he was responding firmly to anti-Chinese voices “both inside and outside New Zealand,” warning Wellington to avoid involvement in the AUKUS security pact. 

Hartwich writes, however, instead of pushing New Zealand into strategic subservience, China’s assertiveness is driving Wellington closer to its traditional Western allies. 

After years of hedging under the previous Labour government, alignment with AUKUS and its Western partners is driven by a pragmatic response to a perceived threat.

Prime Minister Luxon, speaking at the same event as Wang, laid out the need for a “China And” strategy to diversify New Zealand’s economic partnerships and ensure security. Luxon argued that economic prosperity and security are now “very, very much interdependent.”

Hartwich says NZ, much like a victim of a schoolyard bully, faced with China’s growing assertiveness, is seeking strength in numbers. 

This means aligning more closely with the US-led Western bloc to level the playing field and ensure its interests.
Read more over at The Australian (Paywalled)

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