mandag 19. april 2021

New Zealand ‘uncomfortable’ with expanding Five Eyes’ remit, says foreign minister

New Zealand’s foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta, says her country won’t provoke or engage with China through the Five Eyes alliance aside from on intelligence matters, in a major accommodation of Chinese concerns. The Five Eyes alliance is a network of five like-minded countries – the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – that share security-related intelligence.

Recently, members have invoked the alliance on broader matters, such as Hong Kong’s creep towards authoritarianism or the mistreatment of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region. This has infuriated Chinese officials, who see the group as attempting to curtail China’s sovereignty.

Last year, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded with anger to a statement about Hong Kong, saying “if they dare to harm China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, they should beware of their eyes being poked and blinded”. Speaking at a meeting of the New Zealand China Council on Monday, Mahuta said New Zealand did not want to see a widening of the scope of the intelligence network. “We are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes,” she said. “We would much rather prefer to look for multilateral opportunities to express our interests.”