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Premier of China to visit New Zealand



Chinese Premier’s NZ visit may influence AUKUS decision - global relations expert

As Chinese Premier Li Qiang prepares to visit New Zealand tomorrow, geopolitical analyst Geoffrey Miller suggests the trip may be aimed at swaying Prime Minister Christopher Luxon's stance on AUKUS.

Could China’s Premier be making a visit to New Zealand to help influence Luxon’s decision on AUKUS?

It’s one suggestion that geopolitical analyst Geoffrey Miller posed, ahead of Premier Li Qiang's visit to New Zealand tomorrow.

It’s the first visit to New Zealand by a Premier from China since a visit by the former Premier Li Keqiang in 2017.

The visit also marks 10 years since the conclusion of the New Zealand China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner with a two-way trade worth almost $38 billion last year.

Miller said there’s been much interest from China in New Zealand as only in March their Foreign Affairs Minister was in Wellington.


“They very much want to have New Zealand’s ear and a lot of that is about AUKUS and trying to influence New Zealand ahead of any decisions that are taken on New Zealand joining Pillar two of that AUKUS arrangement.”

Pillar two of the AUKUS partnership allows the sharing of advanced technology like artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

This could also include drones or support systems for hypersonic weapons which New Zealand has not yet been involved in due to its nuclear-free policy.

Miller said, “if New Zealand did join AUKUS Pillar two, it would be walking away largely from that independent foreign policy".

"It’s a big decision and it hasn’t been made yet and that’s why China’s Premier is coming here to try and influence Christopher Luxon one more time.

“Pacific countries are pretty much lukewarm on AUKUS, lukewarm to negative overall. An exception perhaps is Fiji which has signaled more positivity towards AUKUS.

“I think New Zealand signing up to Pillar Two would be quite a defining moment in all kinds of ways for New Zealand’s foreign policy, for its relations with Pacific countries, for its relations with a whole host of countries.

“I think it would really see a fracturing of quite good relations overall with China."

Miller said the Pacific have become a “geopolitical pawn” in the power competition between the US and China.

“Pacific countries have been really clear overall that they want to see development and a focus on climate change.

“When it comes to AUKUS, I think for a lot of Pacific countries they find that very much a distraction from the main issues that they are interested in.

“They want outside players like Australia, like New Zealand, like the US to really meet their own needs, rather than use them as a geopolitical pawn in this bigger game of geopolitical great power competition between the United States and China.”

Despite the concerns, Miller said there could be some positive things to come out of Premier Li’s visit.

“I think China typically likes to use New Zealand as an example when it comes to trade. New Zealand was the first Western country to sign a free trade agreement.

“There is some possibility that that free trade agreement will be upgraded to provide greater trade and services.

“And also visa access. There's about a dozen countries now that China has given visa-free access for short visits of up to a couple of weeks. It's quite a recent development.

“There are no English-speaking countries on that list except for Ireland. New Zealand could be the first Five Eyes country to join that club.

“So I think China's message overall to New Zealand with this trip is don't put it all at risk.”

Watch the full interview below: