China puts Ardern visit on hold, postpones tourism launch

China appears to be putting a squeeze on Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand, with a visit to China by Ardern being postponed, and a joint ‘Year of Tourism’ launch being scuppered.

In part this appears to be in response to block Huawei from supplying equipment for a major 5G broadband installation.

Barry Soper (NZ Herald):  China, New Zealand links sink to new low: PM Jacinda Ardern’s visit on hold, tourism project postponed

Diplomatic links with China appear to have plummeted to a new low as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is given the cold shoulder by Beijing and a major tourism promotion is postponed by the superpower.

Ardern was scheduled to visit China early this year but the invitation has been put on hold.

The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was meant to be launched with great fanfare at Wellington’s Te Papa museum next week, but that has been postponed by China.

The initiative was announced by the Key Government almost two years ago when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was in Wellington.

Richard Davies, manager of tourism policy at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said: “China has advised that this event has had to be postponed due to changes of schedule on the Chinese side.”

It looks like a deliberate distancing and point making by China. This has significant implications for trade and tourism.

Ardern said after the Cabinet meeting yesterday that the official visit to Beijing is being worked on. Late last year she was on standby to visit but said they could not co-ordinate their diaries. New Zealand sources in Beijing say her first visit to China is not expected any time soon.

The decision by the Government’s chief spy agency, the GCSB, to axe Chinese telco giant Huawei from the Spark 5G broadband rollout is seen by China as New Zealand taking sides with the United States. The Trump Administration publicly asked its Five Eyes partners not to do business with Huawei.

The GCSB’s version that Huawei posed a risk to national security isn’t enough for Beijing. It wants a better explanation before opening the door to Ardern.

This could take a lot more than a bit of PR poncing to resolve. The real world of international trade and diplomacy involves more than photo ops and friendly articles.

Asset management and corporate adviser David Mahon, based in Beijing, said governments needed to get over thwarting Chinese economic aims in a way reminiscent of the Cold War struggle between capitalism and communism.

“It’s unhelpful for politicians and a few anti-Chinese professors to feed uncorroborated McCarthyite conspiracies about Chinese spy networks in their countries and targeting anyone who doesn’t share their view”.

Philip Burdon, a former National Government Trade Minister and recently chairman of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, said New Zealand couldn’t afford to take sides.

“We clearly need to commit ourselves to the cause of trade liberalisation and the integration of the global economy while respectfully and realistically acknowledging China’s entitlement to a comprehensive and responsible strategic and economic engagement in the region,” he said.

Sources in Beijing say China plans trade retaliation and the turning back of an Air New Zealand plane at the weekend may not have been a coincidence. Sources say the airline has been trying to secure extra landing slots in Shanghai without success.

NZ Herald: Air New Zealand takes blame for administrative blunder that meant Shanghai flight turned around

Air New Zealand has taken responsibility for a costly blunder that resulted in a flight from Auckland to Shanghai being turned around.

A spokeswoman said the aircraft at the centre of yesterday’s problem was new to the route and hadn’t gained the necessary approval.

Asked whether the Chinese stance had changed, she said: ”No, this was the result of an administrative issue on our end.”

An odd sort of ‘administrative issue’. getting approval for a route and landing is a fairly basic part of flight planning.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the mistake was Air New Zealand’s and was separate to China-New Zealand relations.

“It is important to be really clear and not confuse administrative and regulatory issues as issues to do with the relationship.”

Asked how she could be sure that this had nothing to do with any political reasons, she said: “Aircraft travelling into China are required to be registered. This one was not. That is the issue that has occurred here.”

Sounds like a sensitive issue.

Ardern can’t even get a plane off the ground for a visit to China. This isn’t a good sign in New Zealand-Chinese relations, and the late postponement of the launch of the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism should also raise some alarm bells. When is it going to be launched ? Later in the year?

This may not just be a problem for Ardern. Pror to getting into Government with coalition partner NZ First:

China may not be able to tell New Zealand what to do, but they seem quite capable of telling us what they won’t do with us.

This may not help either:

And from RNZ: Government has its ‘eyes wide open’ on China: Winston Peters

Mr Peters comments follow a report by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Chinese Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance, which criticises New Zealand for not doing enough to counter Chinese influence.

“New Zealand’s government, unlike that of Australia, has taken few steps to counter foreign interference in its internal affairs,” the report said.

“Charity fund-raising, which has been used by Chinese United Front organisations to mask contributions, remains excluded from disclosure requirements.

Mr Peters said that he accepts the comments made in the report.

“When we came into government in 2017, on these issues we came in with our eyes wide open.”

He said that the government has already taken action by implementing its Pacific Reset policy.

“That’s why we’ve got the Pacific Reset, which is a huge turnaround in our approach to our neighbourhood and our engagement with it.”

“We all need to understand the changed environment and the Pacific Reset had a proper, serious evaluation of that and that’s why it’s a very, very critical part of our present foreign policy.”

However, he said the policy wasn’t designed to counter the influence of China specifically.

“No, it’s to ensure that the shape and character of our neighbourhood maintains the level of influence of countries who believe in democracy … who believe in sovereignty and countries who have got the best interest of the neighbourhood in mind, not some wider and larger purpose.”

Mr Peters wouldn’t say whether he thought China was becoming increasingly authoritarian.

“When the leader becomes what effectively looks to be the president for life, then that is a changed circumstance that would be naive not to understand.”

“China’s a one-party state – it’s not a democracy”.

These comments are likely to have been noticed in China.

Mr Peters said that he doesn’t believe there will be any reaction from China on the Huawei ban.

Maybe he will need to revise that belief.

Ardern may be caught between China versus US trade battles.

And also between Peters and China.

Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  12th February 2019

    Ardern is more a photo opportunity on tour which is fine to a point but international relationships need grunty work. Not really mentioned here but after her latest EU visit we have lost some trade access probably because she is not taken seriously, she made a large mistake insulting Trump unnecessarily and our unsubsidised steel and aluminium is still tarriffed , she lectured the Australians and we have a large and unreported stream of crooks being flown back for ever more minor offences, everyone knows she cant play nice with China because because they are China and her chardonnay drinking mates in the Auckland social scene wouldnt approve.
    Silly woman is undoing decades of work by Shipley, Clark and Key. Peters is an awful foreign minister and was totally overrated last time round just because he got on with Condoleeza and now he is running round the Islands giving China a verbal kicking.

    • Duker

       /  12th February 2019

      Australia has been sending back crooks and even some who have committed no offences but are deemed undesirable while Key was PM…nothing new there

  2. Blazer

     /  12th February 2019

    thanks for ..nothing ..Dr Jiang.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  12th February 2019

      Dr Jiang is in opposition – he is not doing anything. Which I guess puts him on a par with Jacinda.

      • PartisanZ

         /  12th February 2019

        The Opposition are “not doing anything”!???

        HFD the stand-up comedian!

        You should see the billboards all over the Far North, Northland & Whangarei, the half-page ads in nearly every newspaper, their messages constantly uttered and reiterated by Mayors, District & Regional Councillors … “Four Lanes” … “Four Lanes” … “Four Lanes” …

        And they continue to strongly influence the MSM … special Blue ‘lift out’ sections …

        (Have you noticed how common a predominance of Blue is in the Real Estate sector of the economy?)

        David, I’d say she’s more like recalibrating years of kow-towing to China by Shipley, Clark & Key to try and make it work …

        • David

           /  12th February 2019

          An example of the recalibrating ? given this is our most important trade partner and a lot of jobs depend on this trade shouldnt the electorate be made aware of this secret goings on.

      • Blazer

         /  12th February 2019

        Dr Jiang would make a good replacement for Mr would curry favour 😁,with the Chinese,he would not talk to English speaking journo’s and he is…inscrutable.😉

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  12th February 2019

          The old inscutable Oriental cliche again.

          You are also giving him credit for far too much power.

  3. Al-

     /  12th February 2019

    China is regressing as a country. China was more open in 2006 and when FTA was signed. Many said increasing trade would liberalise countries whereas China has become more authoritarian over last 10 years after such a good start.

    • Corky

       /  12th February 2019

      Very true. It’s surprising some commentators haven’t realised this. China is closing shop. My guess is they can’t have progressive liberal growth and communism working side by side.

      That’s a dangerous gamble for China to play though. The more repressive a countries regime, the bigger the bang when the population revolt.

      Especially a population becoming used to Western ways.

      • Gerrit

         /  12th February 2019

        More than just closing shop. Very internally focused to control it’s population as well. Perhaps the communist leadership is feeling undercurrents of dissent?


        More importantly how quick will other (western or eastern) governments try and control their populations by similar technology?

        • Corky

           /  12th February 2019

          It’s only a matter of time before this technology comes our way, Gerrit. New Zealand is doing a circuitous route with their introduction of a genuine universal ID card.

          We currently have the Real Me ID card. 18 Plus ID card and our driver licenses. Those will eventually have to become a single card with all our information embedded.
          From our bio-metrics to driver licenses.

          Once hard currency is withdrawn from circulation all countries of the world will move in China’s direction.

          Social media has already given us a glimpse of how social control will become reality.
          Shaming and demerit points will be the reality for those who don’t abide by group think.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  12th February 2019

            Drivers’ licenses are hardly new, and even the photo ones have been around for many years. I’d rather that people had those than have drivers who have never sat a test driving and using someone else’s license.

            We have elections to change the government if we don’t like the current one, unlike some countries. People vote for the candidate and party they want.

            Social media use is voluntary.

          • MaureenW

             /  12th February 2019

            Think you’re probably right about that – I watched an Aljaz doco about exactly this not long back. Creepy but probably not that far away.

    • NOEL

       /  12th February 2019

      APEC comments, monetary support towards the Aussie Vanuatu cable and Huawei should be enough to piss off the Chinese. Add to that the Chinese hate virtual signalling shouldn’t be a surprise.

  4. Finbaar Rustle

     /  12th February 2019

    You can’t please every one all the time.
    You won’t always get all that you want when it suits.
    China and the USA do not exist in a bubble and will just have to get along.
    NZ will just adapt to the fluid circumstances.
    She’ll be right.

    • PartisanZ

       /  12th February 2019

      Why would everybody be downticking such a wonderful little collection of Kiwi colloquialisms … past and present?

      We don’t know how lucky we are!!!

  5. Gezza

     /  12th February 2019

    This does possibly put Simon Bridges publicly raising the issue yesterday in a different light. Is he getting instructions on this from … umm … foreigners? o_O

  6. Gezza

     /  12th February 2019

    The 1ewes at 6 item on the potential problems in the China/NZ relationship issue Bridges has raised. Interesting that in, their coverage, Jess Mutch McKay seems to be giving qualified support to Bridges’ utterances on this. Even took the time to include a very short clip of Winston making a twat of himself while they took the issue seriously.

  1. China puts Ardern visit on hold, postpones tourism launch — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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