Secretary of State Nanaia Mahuta made clear for the first time New Zealand’s discomfort with efforts to expand Five Eyes. File photo by Lynn Grieveson.

Sam Sachdeva is the editor of national affairs for the newsroom, covering foreign affairs and trade, housing and other topics of national concern.

A carefully worded speech by Nanaia Mahuta on relations Sam Sachdeva writes that Nanaia Mahuta may lack the Winston Peters bombast, but her greater willingness to follow up on that of the MFAT Holding an approved script makes it easier to find out about New Zealand’s foreign policy positions.

This emphasized her speech to the New Zealand China Council – arguably the most significant speech she has given since she was appointed Foreign Minister last November – and Mahuta did not disappoint with a number of subtle but powerful insights.

The important thing One of them was that she had admitted New Zealand’s discomfort in efforts to expand the scope of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance (although, ironically, this may have been brought up not during her official address but in a press conference with the media at the end).

Mahuta had previously accused journalists of reading too much about when or not New Zealand signed statements with its Five Eyes partners, but their comments seemed to confirm that a bigger strategy was involved.

The feeling is understandable: other members of the alliance have a clear sense of mission, which speaks of getting beyond mere information sharing into areas such as critical minerals and free trade.

If such a move is advocated, New Zealand could get into affairs in which it may prefer a different approach, get into lock step or the opprobri to risk his Five Eyes partners.

Of course, Mahuta’s preferred approach is not without risk, given the already existing criticism of New Zealand as the weak link in Five Eyes.

With Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor drawing Australian contempt in January after saying New Zealand’s neighbor should “follow and show respect” to China, the most recent – albeit more diplomatic – Comments fuel the argument that New Zealand is shying away from collective action against Chinese aggression out of bare self-interest.

Certainly the way Mahuta’s speech is received across the trench could be the New Zealand visit of her Australian counterpart Marise Payne this week give an additional advantage (in view of the already recognizable friction in connection with deportees, this was not necessary).

It will also be interesting to see how the speech is reported in Beijing, since the state media there does not Shying away from creating a wedge between New Zealand and Australia because of their different approaches to the Sup empowered to drift.

However, it would be unfair to label the utterances overall as a reluctant appeasement if there is ample talk that China may grapple with.

Mahuta warned of economic overexposure in the Chinese market, saying that it was “advisable not to put all your eggs in a single basket.”

This is hardly a shocking revelation – in fact, Jacinda Ardern has said this in the past – but it was nonetheless a reminder that the swift Rise in two-way trade after the signing of the free trade agreement in China is something of a double-edged sword.

Long-standing (and controversial) concerns about so-called “debt-trap diplomacy” in the Pacific also came to the fore, and Mahuta warned of the region’s indebtedness.

“China can play a role in the region’s long-term economic recovery, but there is one major difference ed between financing loans and contributing to larger ODA (Official Development Assistance) investments, particularly in the Pacific. “

The hope seems to be that we can just agree with both sides of the great power rivalry disagreeing as suits without permanent insult.

Peters raised the issue last term, albeit in his own inimitable way, but Mahuta’s remarks were a reminder that the geopolitical factors behind New Zealand’s Pacific Reset continue to play a major role.

Overall, the speech was an attempt to cautiously cross what she noticed at the beginning with increasingly troubled waters, with tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, the South China Sea and others the treatment of Uighur Muslims increased.

The government would continue to speak out on these issues, but “in any case, we meet our ent divorces independently based on our values ​​and our own assessment of New Zealand’s interests “.

The hope seems to be that we can simply agree to disagree with both sides of the great power rivalry as suits without that there is a permanent insult.

Given the ever-increasing stakes and the feeling that we can’t sit aside indefinitely, this seems like an increasingly bigger task.

Pull it off, and maybe we can Having our cake and eating it too – fall short and New Zealand could face the worst of both worlds.

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