China fires back at NZ, calls remarks on South China Sea and Pacific politics wrong


China has hit back at New Zealand over an official defence strategy paper, which named it as a threat.

Defence Minister Ron Mark’s rebooted Strategic Defence Policy Statement, released on Friday, explicitly states the threat it believes China poses to the international community.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have often been careful not to specifically call out the country when talking about international tensions in the South China Sea, or over development spending in the Pacific.

But the defence statement explicitly listed what the Government saw as potential threats posed by China.

On Friday, Mark said the statement would come as no surprise to China. But on Monday, Peters said the Chinese Government had made clear its concern over the paper, both through its ambassador in Wellington and New Zealand’s ambassador in Beijing, but played down the significance of this.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says NZ is wrong in its statements regarding the threats China poses to the Pacific, and about its actions and claims in the South China Sea.

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had “lodged stern representations with New Zealand on the wrong remarks it has made on China”.

“We urge New Zealand to view the relevant issue in an objective way, correct its wrong words and deeds and contribute more to the mutual trust and cooperation between our two countries,” she said.

Mark’s paper said “both domestically and as a basis for international engagement, China holds views on human rights and freedom of information that stand in contrast to those that prevail in New Zealand”.

It went on to say “not all major powers’ aspirations can be shaped in accordance with the rules-based order, in the way that had been hoped until recently”.