China’s and New Zealand’s foreign ministers chatted by video call late Monday and addressed China’s role in the Pacific area, according to separate announcements from the two nations.
The growing influence of China in the region, as well as the threat of militarization, has alarmed New Zealand and its allies. Their fears have grown since China and the Solomon Islands signed a security agreement earlier this year.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta underlined the importance of engagement taking place in a manner that advances Pacific priorities, is supportive of Pacific regional institutions such as the Pacific Islands Forum, and addresses the significant challenges in the region, according to a statement from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in his statement that Beijing respects the traditional ties between New Zealand and the Pacific island nations and wants to participate in more multi-party cooperation projects with New Zealand.
“The cooperation between China and Pacific island nations that China has diplomatic relations with can go hand in hand with existing arrangements in the region and complement one another,” Wang said in a statement.
Mahuta also voiced New Zealand’s views on sensitive issues, including human rights issues in Xinjiang, the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, and the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, according to MFAT.