The Kiwi Trade Minister Damien O’Connor stirred Trans-Tasman tensions on Thursday when he suggested Australia needed to show more respect to Xi Jinping‘s authoritarian regime.
‘I can’t speak for Australia and the way it runs its diplomatic relationships, but clearly if they were to follow us and show respect, I guess a little more diplomacy from time to time and be cautious with wording, then they too could hopefully be in a similar situation,’ he told the American CNBC.
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New Zealand has been slammed for sliding with China as the Communist superpower escalates its trade war with Australia. Pictured is NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Beijing in April 2019
Liberal MP Dave Sharma, a former diplomat, was scathing days after New Zealand upgraded its trade ties with China.
‘Expected a little more … so much for Trans-Tasman solidarity,’ he tweeted.
Sydney radio 2GB broadcaster Ben Fordham accused New Zealand’s Labour government of ‘sucking up’ to Communist China.
‘Damien is an imbecile,’ he said.
‘You can cozy up to a ruthless dictatorship, mate, but here in Australia we stand up to bullies.
‘The Kiwis, on the other hand, are sucking up like sycophants.’
Mr O’Connor released a statement on Friday after speaking with his Australian counterpart Dan Tehan, another former diplomat.
‘We do not speak for Australia on this or any other matter,’ he said.
Last night, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta tried some damage control, declining to endorse her cabinet colleague’s comments about Australia.
‘Oh, look, the bilateral relationships of any other country is a matter for those countries,’ she told the ABC’s 7.30 program on Thursday night.
The Kiwi Trade Minister Damien O’Connor stirred Trans-Tasman tensions on Thursday when he suggested Australia needed to show more respect to Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime
‘Certainly in terms of the China-Australia relationship – that is really not something that we can or should comment on, and is a matter are for Australia and China to work through.’
Nonetheless Japan, Australia’s biggest trading partner from 1967 to 2008 until China replaced it, has endorsed Australia’s assertiveness against China’s wolf warrior diplomacy.
Shingo Yamagami, who last month take over as Japan’s Ambassador to Australia, said he had admiration for Australia standing up to China.
‘This is a trying time for Japan’s friends in Australia. The fact of the matter is the world’s eyes are now on Australia,’ he told The Australian Financial Review.
‘In this regard some might be able to say this is a golden opportunity for Australia to demonstrate to the international community what kind of country Australia is.
‘Whether you know Australia is willing to show its steadfastness and resilience, and in what way, I don’t think this is to be dictated or influenced by others.’
Last night, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta tried some damage control, declining to endorse her cabinet colleague’s comments about Australia
Like Australia, New Zealand has China as its number one trading partner and both Trans-Tasman nations have bilateral trade deals with the Asian superpower.
Australia, however, has more trade leverage with iron exports exports surging by 21 per cent in December as China turbo-charged its Covid recovery building program.
Brazil, the world’s only other major exporter of the steel-making commodity, struggles two years on from the Vale tailings dam collapse.
Australia still managed to have a $9billion trade surplus in December – the fourth biggest on record even though hostile China bought 38 per cent of Australia’s exports, Australian Bureau of Statistics trade data showed.
This also occurred after China slapped 80 per cent tariffs on Australian barley and 212 per cent import taxes on Australian wine as revenge for Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April calling for an inquiry into the origins of Covid.
Shingo Yamagami, who last month take over as Japan’s Ambassador to Australia, said he had admiration for Australia standing up to China
China has refused to take phone calls from Australian trade ministers despite holding up Australian shipments of coal, lobsters, timber, beef and lamb.
New Zealand is a major exporter of dairy products, with Chinese consumers preferring Kiwi baby formula for being of higher quality.
The small nation in the Pacific this week formalised an upgraded free trade agreement with China.
Ms Mahuta, who last month offered to broker a truce between Australia and China, said the new bilateral deal resembled the 2015 China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
‘People will remember that we were the first to have a free trade agreement with China and the upgrade actually puts us on par with what Australia had agreed in their own free trade agreement with China,’ she said.