Australia and New Zealand Unite Over China Human Rights Issues

Australia and New Zealand on Monday expressed grave concerns over developments in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in the Xinjiang province of China, as the two nations sought get in lockstep over their biggest trading partner.

In the first face-to-face meeting between heads of both countries in over 15 months, Australia and New Zealand presented a united front on China.

Quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand began last month after both nations controlled the spread of COVID-19, allowing Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to visit New Zealand.

Talks were focused among other things on China, with Australia currently at loggerheads with Beijing while New Zealand has strengthened economic ties with China, with the two countries this year upgrading their free trade agreement.

New Zealand’s approach to China has lead to suggestions by political commentators and the media that Wellington may not be taking a strong enough stance on China’s human rights’ issues.

Ardern rejected this, saying New Zealand and Australia had similar positions on issues such as trade and human rights.

“You’ll see Australia and New Zealand have broadly been positioned in exactly the same place on these issues consistently so I really push back on any suggestion that we are not taking a strong stance on these incredibly important issues,” she said in a joint press conference.

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