WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took a tougher stance on China’s human rights record Monday by saying it was getting harder to reconcile differences as China’s role in the world grows.
While Ardern’s language remained moderate when compared with that of many other leaders, it still marked a significant shift for a country which relies on China as its largest trading partner. Ardern in past speeches has often avoided direct criticism of China.
New Zealand has been trying to strike the right tone on China in recent weeks after finding itself on the defensive with its Five Eyes security allies by resisting speaking out in unison with them against China on certain human rights issues.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta caused a diplomatic stir last month when she discussed her reluctance to expand the role of the Five Eyes to include joint positions on human rights. The alliance among New Zealand, the U.S., the U.K, Australia and Canada has its origins in World War II cooperation.
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