China Would Like to Split New Zealand From Allies: Expert

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 9, 2021

An Australian expert has said that China would love to be able to split New Zealand from its more traditional allies of Australia, America, Canada, and the United Kingdom—the countries that comprise the Five Eyes alliance.

Associate Prof. Salvatore Babones from the University of Sydney told The Epoch Times that China would like to see a more isolated New Zealand.

“China would dearly love to split New Zealand from the Five Eyes alliance,” Babones said. “New Zealand has long been the weak link in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, and the Ardern government seems much more strongly committed to maintaining its trade relationship with communist China than to maintaining its security relationship with the free world.”

Babones’ comments come as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Five Eyes Alliance is “really important” in a world in which, he alluded, other forces have differing views “about how the world should run.”

Chief among them is a world order dominated by nations that don’t adhere to international rules held up by the liberal democracies that participate in it.

Morrison said that Australia and its Five Eyes allies are liberal, free-market democracies with business-led economies that share values and interests on security issues and intelligence.

These democratic nations, he told SkyNews, work together to “support our region and see them be sovereign and independent, that we can keep open seas, that there aren’t parts of the world’s oceans or seas that are inside and outside clubs.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Nov. 17, 2020. (Reuters/Issei Kato)

Morrison doesn’t take the view that every system of government is as good as the other. “If that was the case, you know, we’d flip a coin each day, and decide which way you run the country on you know, are we going to run under an authoritarian regime or liberal democracy.”

He added he was a supporter of liberal democracies: “Nope. Liberal democracy all the way. Forever.”

Bilateral relations across the Tasman Sea grew tense briefly when New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said on Jan. 27 that Australia should follow his country’s lead and handle its diplomacy with Beijing more respectfully.

O’Connor was later accused by Australian and New Zealand politicians of running Chinese Communist Party lines. Australia’s Trade Minister downplayed the incident and reaffirmed the strong relationship between the neighbouring countries.

jacinda ardern scott morrison
L: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looks on during a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand on March 17, 2020. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images) R: Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends the meeting of the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Sydney, Australia on March 13, 2020. (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Prof. James Laurenceson from the University of Technology in Sydney said that the likelihood of China successfully splitting New Zealand from its allies is next to zero.

Laurenceson told The Epoch Times that New Zealand, Australia, and the United States have a close relationship because it serves their interests.

“It’s not surprising they won’t always engage with China in the same way,” Laurenceson said. “This was never the intent of the ANZUS alliance or the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangement.”

Certainly, New Zealand’s new Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has assured Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom that it will remain a staunch ally.

In her inaugural foreign policy speech, Mahuta said that she believed the key to New Zealand’s foreign policy stance was relationships. Singling out Australia, she noted that the key to New Zealand’s foreign affairs was Australia.

“The trans-Tasman relationship is critical for New Zealand’s prosperity and security,” Mahuta said. “Australia is our only formal ally and an indispensable partner across the breadth of our international interests.”

Further, she noted that New Zealand’s relationship with the United States is integral to the country’s defence and security, while New Zealand’s relationship Canada and the UK were strong and enduring.

Mahuta also noted New Zealand’s relationship with China saying she was seeking a “mature relationship” where both countries have practical expectations of each other.