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New Zealand: Between Independent Foreign Policy and the Alliance With the US

Sydney (Australia), Oct 12 (EFE).- The increase in China’s influence in the Pacific and the strengthening of Australia’s ties with the United States and the United Kingdom increase pressure on New Zealand to join the AUKUS, a military alliance which it resists entering due to its marked anti-nuclear policy and its good commercial relations with Beijing.

The Minister of Defence, Andrew Little, stated last March that he would study possible integration into the AUKUS without compromising on nuclear weapons and since then the invitations from the allies have been reiterated, an issue that will have to be decided by the outgoing Government. of the polls after this Sunday’s elections.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted last July that “the door is open” for New Zealand to commit to AUKUS.

The AUKUS, signed in 2021 by Washington, London and Canberra in response to China’s growing influence in the region, includes the acquisition and development of military-powered submarines by Australia, an aspect that for the moment keeps New Zealand out. .

New Zealand, a denuclearized nation, is not considering being part of the so-called “first pillar” of the pact, which includes nuclear submarines, but last March it did not rule out being part of the second pillar, which promotes development and cooperation in high defense technologies such as artificial intelligence or quantum computing.

However, the most critical voices of New Zealand’s integration into the agreement argue that this would distance it from Pacific nations, which could see the move as a way to give preference to relations with the so-called Anglosphere.

The Indo-Pacific is the scene of the struggle for influence between the two great powers: with territorial disputes such as those over the islands of the South China Sea or the Taiwan crisis while Beijing increases its presence in the island nations of the Pacific, with which New Zealand He has always maintained a good relationship. Defense Reinforcement

While deciding on its integration into the AUKUS, the Government of Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced last August its intention to strengthen its defense capabilities to face the “complex” and “disturbing” security challenges in the Indo-Pacific, in the face of China’s expansion in the region.

The Ministry’s Defense Policy Statement clearly alluded to China, stating that “Beijing continues to invest heavily in the expansion and modernization of its military, and is increasingly capable of sending military and paramilitary forces throughout the region, including along of the entire Indo-Pacific”. conciliatory attitude

Although he remains guarded against China’s moves, Wellington maintains a conciliatory attitude toward Beijing, as was evident in Hipkins’ visit in June, when Chinese President Xi Jinping called New Zealand a “friend and partner.”

During the trip, both countries signed agreements to strengthen their commercial relationship, with bilateral exchange worth 26.7 billion dollars annually.

Too clear an alignment with the AUKUS could lead to a cooling of economic relations, with measures such as the tariffs imposed by Beijing on Australian products, which may also explain New Zealand’s caution.

Source : Yahoo Noticias