GT Voice: NZ doesn’t need a lesson in China trade from Australia
Published: May 30, 2021 08:47 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

With the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand set to meet on Sunday for the first time in 15 months, some Australian media outlets appeared to be using the timing to drive a wedge between New Zealand and China, but that may only underscore their increasing envy of their neighbor's apparent advantage in trade with China.

A promotional video clip by newsmagazine show 60 Minutes Australia went on viral on social media last week. A voiceover in the video accused New Zealand of ditching friends for "a fast Chinese buck," but for anyone who has the basic knowledge of China-New Zealand trade cooperation, such accusation is nonsense and ridiculous.

Following China-Australia trade ties becoming strained amid the deteriorating bilateral relations caused by Canberra's provocation, some Australian media outlets have been hitting out at China-New Zealand trade, criticizing the latter for cozying up to China for economic interests. Such rhetoric is full of contempt for the judgment and diplomatic independence of New Zealand.

It is true that economic and trade cooperation between China and New Zealand has been moving forward on a steady and healthy footing. In January this year, the two trading partners signed an upgrade to their existing free trade agreement, which is bound to benefit New Zealand exporters of agricultural, dairy and seafood products amid deepening bilateral economic ties. If anything, such development only makes Australian politicians more envious and frustrated, because their government has consistently refused to make any real move to ease tensions with China.

From another perspective, Australian media's attempt to drive a wedge between China and New Zealand may be a reflection of their despair toward the prospects of China-Australia trade. In early May, after Australia revoked agreements signed between Victoria state and China on the Belt and Road Initiative, the National Development and Reform Commission suspended all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, marking a further downward spiral in bilateral relations.

Yet, the irony is that instead of reflecting on the provocative actions and hostility toward China, some politicians and media outlets in Australia have been trying to step up pressure on New Zealand, in the hope of dragging it into the same mire.

But New Zealand will not necessarily be the second Australia despite the historic friendship between the two countries. It is clear to New Zealand that none of its Western allies could or would compensate them for the loss caused by trade tensions with China, and instead, those allies would only compete to fill the market void in China as proved in Australia's case.

We believe New Zealand knows how to weigh its own interests.