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Opening the Devil’s Door in Asia-Pacific — Will New Zealand Join U.S. War on China?

April 18, 2024 (EIRNS)—Mick Hall, a New Zealand journalist, published an article in Consortium News reporting that New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters visited Washington DC at the same time as the Japan-US-Philippine agreement to form a military pact against China was being concluded, and called for New Zealand to join in the game.

Peters met with Tony Blinken, and the two released a joint statement that claimed a compelling need for New Zealand to work more closely with the U.S.-led “frameworks and architectures” in the Asia-Pacific. “We share the view that arrangements such as the Quad, AUKUS, and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity contribute to peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and see powerful reasons for New Zealand engaging practically with them, as and when all parties deem it appropriate.”

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who was a critic of the country’s continued drift away from an independent foreign policy, according to Hall, said the decision was undemocratic, as the government had not campaigned on the issue and so had no popular mandate to join the pact. “The issue is do we keep our heads and say ‘does what we’re doing contribute to trying to lower tensions, or does it contribute to raising them’. It’s an open secret that AUKUS… is aimed at China. China also happens to be the biggest trading partner for New Zealand, twice the size of Australia’s export take from us and rather more than the U.S. So, something quite doesn’t add up here.”

A New Zealander who is now a professor in Kyoto University, Pascal Lottaz, is also quoted: “I was at an ASEAN workshop in Jakarta last week and it’s pretty clear that everybody in the Pacific is worried. We also see how the West is not able to subdue Russia and is now getting this huge pushback from the Global South. So, this multipolarity will not inherently change what countries want, but it will change what countries can do and then the question is, will this lead to a management of the situation or is it going to lead to more war?”

New Zealand’s move towards Pillar II [part of AUKUS] and NATO has also been incremental, Hall writes. “The right wing coalition voted in last year, the journey towards integration has accelerated, as its foreign minister’s joint statement with Blinken demonstrates.”

Before Winston Peters’s U.S. trip, he had attended a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on April 3-4, after meeting with Polish and Ukraine government officials over the U.S. proxy war with Russia. New Zealand Defence Force soldiers are currently training Ukraine’s military in the U.K.

Like Japan, New Zealand is constrained by its own constitution, which includes a nuclear-free law banning nuclear-powered and -armed ships from its territory. Anti-China fanatic Scott Morrison, the former Australian Prime Minister, stuck his nose in, urging New Zealand to abandon the legislation introduced in 1987, an unlikely scenario, given a current bipartisan position on the anti-nuclear tradition. At present, AUKUS submarines would be banned from New Zealand shores.