On Saturday, Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, expressed her concerns over the South China Sea and tensions in the Taiwan Strait during talks with her Chinese counterpart at the end of her visit to Beijing. In a statement, Mahuta also highlighted New Zealand’s deep concerns regarding the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.
Mahuta reiterated New Zealand’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and expressed her concerns over developments in the South China Sea and increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. During her visit, Mahuta met with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, business leaders, and women leaders.
Wang stated that China and New Zealand had always respected and trusted each other. New Zealand has been regarded as the moderate voice on China in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which also involves the United States, Australia, Britain, and Canada. However, New Zealand’s tone on security and China’s growing presence in the South Pacific has toughened over the past year after China and the Solomon Islands established a security pact.
New Zealand has consistently expressed concerns about the potential militarisation of the Pacific, given China’s military buildup in the South China Sea. China views Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the option of using force to take the island under its control. Mahuta said that the countries looked forward to resuming in-person dialogue on a range of issues following a gap of several years in face-to-face contacts. She invited Qin to visit New Zealand and also flagged a potential visit by New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to China, possibly this year.