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HELEN CLARK and DON BRASH: WE’RE APPROACHING A CRITICAL JUNCTION

Four months ago, we argued (NZ Herald 13/2/24) that it is critically important that New Zealand does not abandon the independent foreign policy which we have pursued over the last 40 years, and that in particular we should not be seduced into forming any kind of relationship with AUKUS, an explicitly anti-China military partnership between the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.


We recalled how in 2012 Kurt Campbell, then the US Assistant Secretary of State, had made it clear that the US did not ask New Zealand to choose between the US and China, and indeed had told us that the US was “counting on” New Zealand having a strong “dialogue and engagement” with both the US and China.


But we noted that just days before we wrote, our Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence had appeared to abandon our independent foreign policy in favour of unqualified support for America’s “China containment policy” after just a few hours of discussion with their Australian counterparts and absolutely no advance warning to the New Zealand public.


We rather suspect the Government may have been surprised at the extent of public opposition to what was on their part an extremely casual move away from an independent foreign policy. Opposition came not just from the left of the political spectrum but also from the right.


As a result, Government statements tried to reassure the public by claiming that no commitment to join AUKUS Pillar II had been made, and that discussions were simply at the exploratory stage. But Ministers, including the Prime Minister, continued to make statements praising AUKUS as a positive contribution to regional security and stability.


The Government also resurrected an old story about how China had tried to hack the Parliamentary computer system, even though this story was three years old and the attempt had been thwarted.


David Fisher of the Herald helpfully reminded the public that the US had for years used New Zealand as a base for spying without the knowledge of even the relevant Government minister. And of course, it has been known for almost 10 years that the US National Security Agency routinely taps the phones not just of America’s foes but also of America’s friends, such as German chancellor Angela Merkel and her closest advisers.


Just days before the arrival of the Chinese Premier for a short visit to New Zealand, Winston Peters, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Manila and during the course of his visit he discussed steps towards elevating the Philippine-New Zealand relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership by 2026, and signed a Mutual Logistics Supporting Arrangement between the New Zealand Defence Force and the Philippines Department of National Defence. According to the Philippine Star of 16 June, Mr Peters “underscored the elevation of both nations’ defence relationship as a bulwark to address potential challenges in the West Philippine Sea”.


And at about the same time, Kurt Campbell, now the US Deputy Secretary of State, confirmed an invitation to New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Korea to meet with President Biden in Washington in July.


Between the Russia-Ukraine war, the extremely tense situation between Israel and its neighbours, and the tensions in East Asia – on the Korean peninsula, in the South China Sea and over the status of Taiwan – the geopolitical situation could hardly be more fraught.


Add into that mix aggressive attempts by the US to slow China’s economic growth through both draconian tariffs on Chinese-made electric cars, solar panels and batteries, and prohibitions on the export to China of certain high-tech products made in the US (or with US technology) and the situation has the potential to get seriously out of hand.


In this situation, every country needs to make decisions which are in its own best interests. New Zealand has only two options.


The first is the one that the US wants to see, where New Zealand is much more explicitly tied into the American orbit, going beyond the long running Five Eyes arrangement to AUKUS Pillar II and whatever new “Asian NATO” the US can construct.


The second is what might be called “the Singapore model”. When Prime Minister Christopher Luxon visited Singapore a few weeks ago, the Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, told him that Singapore is


“a major security cooperation partner of the US. This is a technical term. We are the only one of its kind in the world. That means we do a lot of security cooperation with the US – security in terms of counterterrorism, for example anti-extremism, but also in terms of defence cooperation, in terms of defence purchases, training. But we are cooperation partners, not treaty partners, not treaty allies. And there is a fundamental difference. Therefore, we can cooperate with [the US] in many different ways, but push comes to shove, there is no treaty obligation.”


Within ASEAN, a number of other countries have also found the balance of retaining constructive relations with both the United States and China without military ties with either.


The current New Zealand Government seems betwixt and between on foreign policy – reluctant to let go of American apron strings, severely reduced as they are, but also acutely aware of how beneficial our economic relationship with China has been in the past and can certainly continue to be in the future. Trade with China far exceeds that with either Australia or the US.


China is already the largest economy in the world (on the purchasing power parity exchange rate preferred by economists), and seems likely to continue growing in a way which would continue to benefit New Zealand greatly. We have long had a high-quality free trade agreement with China, something we have been unable to conclude with the US.


Could China be a military aggressor to New Zealand? There could be no possible reason for China to take that stance – unless we were fighting alongside the US against China. China can gain access to everything we produce by trade, as it is doing now to our mutual benefit.


Given how tense the international situation has become, and the extreme danger to New Zealand were we to be closely allied with the US in the event of outright military confrontation with China, we believe that all those who see the danger – wherever they are on the political spectrum – must make their position abundantly clear to the Government that New Zealand should have no part of any military-related arrangements directed against China, as that is clearly not in New Zealand’s interests.


Helen Clark

Prime Minister of New Zealand 1999 - 2008

Head of the United Nations Development Program 2009 - 2017


Don Brash

Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand 1988 - 2002

Leader of the Opposition 2003 - 2006

Chairman, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (NZ) Ltd 2013 –


16 June 2024



An abridged form of this article first appeared in the NZ Herald

3,027 views282 comments

282 Comments


I'm really disappointed l would of thought Brash had more integrity and a better respect for democracy than to align him self with such a Marxist and their beliefs. I have followed him since the orewa speech and always thought he had our country at heart.l now realize he is in the Marxist pockets.Shame on you

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Its not so much this issue but by aligning himself with the Marxist regime and their lickspittles how can one believe what else he says as it could be tinged red.

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My lord , what exactly does national think it's bloody well playing at?

Have these people learned nothing at all from the behavior exhibited by the last clown show in charge of the joint????

Ok.

  1. The embarrassment over the cancer drugs promise. What a fucking needless and unwanted fiasco. Don't promise what you can't deliver and then perform a backflip that'd make a contortionist prostitute proud. .

  2. The ferries. Yes, the cost ballooned out because labour as per usual forgot about the cost to modify and rebuild the existingt infrastructure to accommodate these larger ships, and it had to be shitcanned. But why just not say yeah na but I'll have 3 more brand new ones in the current size…

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Who else is struggling with the fact the Don Brash is agreeing with Helen Clarke🤣🤣

There is tension and war looming from every which direction. Driven by the shadowy industrial

elite whose wealth is derived from the misery of others.

Trump, the first POTUS not to engage in war for generations and they certainly didn't like that did they.

Chinas interest for posturing in our part of the world is for control of the pacific resources, food. For the Anglo western side, adhesion to a financial system we so desperately need to extricate ourselves from.

I'm not convinced Putin and Russia are the big problem here either. America certainly didn't like the idea of missiles in Cuba, much the same…


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A healthy take on all of it. I like it. And one day folk will LOVE Putin !!!! A tough man for sure, but doubt he's the crim NATO calls him. NATO W A N T S WAR.... its the Pentagon and armaments business ... NATO'S raison d'etre🤐😎😯

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Your suggestion that the hacking event was three years old and had been thwarted does not ameliorate the seriousness of the attempt to infiltrate another government’s confidential processes. Why would they do this?

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Two reasons... there is practically nothing we can do to stop it, and they need to know when to rattle us with rhetoric if we are getting to cosy with the US.

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The stark reality is that humanity has been afflicted by naked ambition since time immemorial as wars over territories and resources can attest.


Helen Clark, who is as guilty of this affliction as any of the world leaders mentioned in prior commentary, famously stated we live in benign times and aligned us with China. Another term of her administration would have had serious repercussions for New Zealand, and it's her protege (Ardern) that has bought us to the calamitous state we are now in.


Modern warfare is well underway at global scale as factions within countries compete for power and dominance. Following the money reveals serious corruption is at play. We have been bought and sold to China by o…


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Love it !!!!!

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