- The parallel arrangement, termed AUKUS, undermines the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance, essentially cutting Canada and New Zealand down to their size.
- Jacinda reiterating New Zealand’s commitment towards maintaining a nuclear ban in its waters shows her oblivion towards the rising ‘China Challenge’.
- New Zealand must change itself or else it would be reduced to a mere Chinese colony
Not only China is displeased at the development of the US and UK coming together to pledge Nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. New Zealand, Australia’s trans-Tasman partner, has grown wary of its neighbour having advanced nuclear propulsion technology. Just a day after the US, UK and Australia announced the AUKUS initiative, New Zealand hurriedly reiterated its commitment of not allowing nuclear submarines in its waters; essentially banning Australian submarines even before the Australian forces could get a hold of those.
New Zealand bans Australian submarines
“New Zealand’s position in relation to the prohibition of nuclear-powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged,” New Zealander Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, made it clear on Thursday. New Zealand had imposed a ban on nuclear submarines (both powered and armed) from entering its waters way back in 1985. The ban was introduced in the wake of French nuclear testing in the Pacific and led to the US navy banning its warships from entering New Zealand ports for more than 30 years.
There is also a ‘Five Eyes’ angle to Jacinda’s displeasure. The AUKUS partners have also vowed to share crucial information in areas including artificial intelligence, cyber and underwater defense capabilities. This parallel arrangement undermines the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance, essentially cutting Canada and New Zealand down to their size.
New Zealand: Achilles’ heel of the Five Eyes alliance
New Zealand has always been the weakest link among the Five Eyes alliance. Owing to the massive Chinese influence on the country’s trade and economy, New Zealand has never dared to call out China’s illicit trade practices or its oppressive regime in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The trade to China accounts for 28% of New Zealand’s overall exports. Chinese tourists spend nearly $1.7 billion annually in the country. International education is a $5bn industry for New Zealand, and Chinese students make up about 47% of international students in New Zealand’s universities. The same over-dependence is stopping the Jacinda Ardern administration to openly call out Chinese belligerence, making the country the least trusted ally in the group of Five Eyes.
Instead, New Zealand had once preached Canberra against devising an ‘offensive campaign’ against Beijing and asked it to resort to diplomacy for mending its ties with Beijing. The Jacinda Ardern administration’s allegiance towards the CCP has become evident on innumerable occasions. New Zealand had categorically denied labelling Chinese activities in the Xinjiang region as “genocide”, the term widely used by western countries to condemn Chinese treatment of Uyghur Muslims. The country’s ruling party agreed to pass an anti-China motion condemning China’s activities in Xinjiang only after the “genocide” word was replaced with much toned down “Human rights abuses”.
Jacinda Ardern’s oblivion: a threat of New Zealand’s national security
Jacinda reiterating New Zealand’s commitment towards maintaining a nuclear ban in its waters shows her oblivion towards the rising ‘China Challenge’. Chinese media has been calling upon its government to devise nuclear attacks against Australia should it intervenes in China’s military aggression against Taiwan. Moreover, Chinese research vessels have been sailing around Australian waters of late, ramping up security challenges not just for Canberra but also for the tiny pacific nations that look up to Australia and the democratic world for acting as a bulwark against the Chinese belligerence.
New Zealand must change itself or else it would be reduced to a mere Chinese colony. Soon there will be Chinese nuclear submarines or nuclear-armed vessels hovering around its territories, and a poor New Zealand will be left to fend for itself. Instead of doubling down on nuclear ban in its waters, New Zealand must devise ways to strengthen its cooperation with Australia to keep a Chinese invasion at bay.