By Cam Slater, April 22 / The BFD

Nanaia Mahuta’s cringeworthy “Taniwha and Dragon” speech has been met with disdain amongst our allies, and pompous gloating from China:

China has heaped praise on New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister for expressing discomfort with expanding the scope of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network.[…]

Chinese state media have taken the idea of New Zealand leaving the Five Eyes and run with it. 

The Global Times on Tuesday night published a so-called “expert assessment” written by a research fellow at a state-run trade and economic cooperation academy.

The piece features a cartoon with four eyes heading off in an “anti-China” direction, while one eye wearing a New Zealand flag holds a map and appears to be considering moving in another direction towards “trade”. 

It says, given the “US is sparing no efforts in pushing the alliance… against China”, Mahuta’s comment about being uncomfortable expanding the Five Eyes’ remit was “remarkable” and “drew praises in China”.

“Despite mounting pressure, Wellington does not show intention to follow the lead of the US at the expense of its own national interests,” the Global Times says. “The Five Eyes alliance, which originated from World War II, has become an anti-China clique, serving the US’ interests.”

“Moreover, it has now turned into a source of instability among the international community, threatening the sustainable development of the world.”

The article goes on to say while Australia has “tied itself to the US’ chariot”, New Zealand “has maintained a relatively independent approach on foreign policies, paving the way for the country to pursue policies that benefit its own economy and citizens”.Newshub

Mahuta’s speech was cringeworthy, and our allies have noticed that we have basically shafted them.

It is an old diplomatic tactic to make statements deliberately vague and ambiguous. This allows different parties to interpret and frame a statement in terms that suit their own positions. If that’s what’s Mahuta’s speech was intended to be, she’s just made an absolute mess of it instead. This is exactly the sort of thing China uses to drive wedges between the US and its partners.

Little wonder too that alternatives to New Zealand’s participation in Five Eyes are now being aired, out loud:

Japan is making progress towards joining the Anglophone world’s post-war spying network known as Five Eyes, according to Japan’s ambassador to Australia.

“I am very much optimistic about the near future,” said Yamagami Shingo, who took up his post in December 2020. He said he “would like to see this idea become reality in the near future”.

Australia and New Zealand in 1956 joined the US, Britain and Canada to complete the Five Eyes group and that was the last time any new member was admitted.

“Logically, in terms of interests and capability, Japan is the best candidate,” said the head of ANU’s National Security College, Professor Rory Medcalf.

“If there’s a country with a fine-grained understanding of China, Japan is it. For most of its life, the Five Eyes has been seen as one unchangeable bloc, but I think it’s important to move with the times.”

The idea of Japan becoming the “sixth eye” is gaining traction just as New Zealand is expressing reservations about any increase in the network’s reach.

Yamagami, formerly the head of the intelligence branch of Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said: “We keep building specific blocks with the Australian intelligence community and Japanese intelligence community and with the rest of the Five Eyes community.

“So this is something that’s really going on the ground and Japanese politicians and officials are becoming increasingly aware of its importance,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in an interview.

“It’s a sign of these countries sharing universal values and strategic interests,” he said. All six are democracies and all six see China as a strategic rival.

Stuff

I’ve long fancied Japan joining the network; it makes perfect sense, but having it suddenly gaining real traction right now is just going to reinforce the impression that our position is shaky. Make no mistake, our position is very shaky.

How can New Zealand, a self-declared global leader on human rights, justify siding with China, a regime that imprisons people in concentration camps and crushes pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong? Easily enough, it seems, when the country’s leaders are willing to put trade and a fear of standing up to China ahead of their principles. So much so that New Zealand is prepared to abandon a co-ordinated effort by the Five Eyes security alliance — whose other members are America, Britain, Canada and Australia — to put pressure on Beijing over human rights abuses.

Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand’s foreign minister, justifies the new approach by saying that the country is “uncomfortable” with applying such pressure.

The Times

Although not flavour of the month – or any other time period – with the Jacindaphile set, the Times is pretty mainstream and moderate.  Neither this commentator nor most of the commenters have anything good to say about our enscribbled Foreign Minister.

With a single speech, Nanaia Mahuta has, in one fell swoop, branded New Zealand as a lickspittle of the CCP and toady to their global ambitions. We have been placed on the wrong side of history and are now seen as an enabler of a cruel and barbaric, anti-democratic regime.

The freedoms and ideals that we fought and died for have been literally pissed on by this group of rank amateurs.

Lickspittle Labour’s support makes John Key’s toadying to China seem quite rude in retrospect.

Crispy Dog Meat. Cartoon credit SonovaMin .The BFD