Nigel Farage has accused New Zealand of having “sold their souls to the Chinese Communist Party” after rejecting allies’ calls for the Five Eyes to forge a common diplomatic position against China.
The South Pacific nation is one of the members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, along with its neighbour Australia and other Anglosphere powers, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The network, which has its origins in the close alliances of the Second World War, is said to be the deepest intelligence-sharing agreement on earth.
In response to increasing tensions with the communist state, Five Eyes partners have discussed revamping the network’s Cold War origins to include refocus on challenging rogue nations like China by promoting the “shared values” on human rights and democracy.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has rejected the targeting of China, which is its largest trading partner, according to The Telegraph.
“We are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes relationship,” Ms Mahuta told the New Zealand China Council.
“We would much rather prefer to look for multilateral opportunities to express our interests on a number of issues,” she added.
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The minister, appointed following Jacinda Ardern’s reelection last year, had previously said: “New Zealand has been very clear … not to invoke the Five Eyes as the first point of contact on messaging out on a range of issues. We’ve not favoured that type of approach and have expressed that to Five Eyes partners.”
Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who while retiring from frontline politics is refocusing his efforts on issues such as challenging China’s growing influence in the world, condemned the remarks, stating on Wednesday that it was “really shocking that New Zealand have sold their souls to the Chinese Communist Party. They will regret it.”
China has come under pressure in recent years regarding its oppression of minorities — such as Christians, Falun Gong, Mongols, Tibetans, and the Uighurs — crackdowns on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, and ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, including military exercises near Taiwan.
New Zealand had reportedly become reluctant to join with other Five Eyes partners in condemning China for its crackdown in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the province home to the Muslim Uighurs.
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Twenty-nine per cent of New Zealand’s exports go to China, and the country is likely frightened of incurring the superpower’s wrath, given Australia was hit with tariffs and bans on products such as, beef, barley, and wine after calling for an independent investigation into China’s handling of the Wuhan coronavirus. Australia will not be bullied, however, recently pulling out of a “Belt and Road” deal despite the inevitable threats of consequences from the communist state.
Intelligence sources are reported by The Telegraph not to be concerned by the remarks, saying they do not believe it represents “a fracturing of the relationship”.
The Times reports that the remarks were met with dismay in London and were a shock to the Foreign Office, though the latter declined to comment to the newspaper formally.
The House of Commons defence select committee chairman, Tobias Ellwood, said the position “reflects China’s growing power on the global stage and an absence of a viable Western counterweight. China’s influence has just nudged a large notch forward.”
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