Con Coughlin, the defence editor of The Telegraph, a major UK newspaper, gave Ardern the title in response to Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s comments indicating a preference to look for “multilateral opportunities” to express interests, rather than utilising the power of Five Eyes.
The column is here. An extract:
The New Zealand Labour leader’s preference for cosying up to China’s communist rulers comes at a time when the consensus among the world’s leading democracies is that Beijing poses the greatest threat to their long-term well-being and prosperity.
It is for this reason that leaders of the other members of the Five Eyes alliance – Britain, the US, Canada and Australia – have been pressing for the group to issue a joint communique denouncing Beijing’s suppression of liberty in Hong Kong, as well as its repression of the Uighur Muslims.
What is happening to the Uighur Muslims is correctly described by the US as genocide. We should call it the same.
What is not in doubt is that, by seeking closer ties with Beijing, Ardern risks isolating her country from allies like neighbouring Australia, whose own trading relationship with Beijing has suffered heavily because of Canberra’s criticism of China’s attempts to cover up the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as its assault on Hong Kong.
We live in an age when, as US President Joe Biden has warned, countries that value democracy need to work together to counter the threat posed by authoritarian regimes like China. By choosing Beijing at the expense of her Five Eyes allies, Ardern risks eroding New Zealand’s credibility on the global political map.
I don’t think we need to use Five Eyes as the vehicle to condemn what China is doing in Xinjiang and in Hong Kong. But I do think we need to be far more vocal than we have been.