State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (2nd R) co-hosts the second China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers' Meeting with Fijian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (1st R) in Suva, Fiji, May 30, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
WELLINGTON – President of New Zealand's opposition Maori Party John Tamihere has called for stopping "criticizing the alleged naivety" of New Zealand's Pacific neighbors as they enter into possible trade agreements with China.
"It's none of our business," Tamihere wrote in an opinion piece carried by the local media NZ Herald on Thursday.
This is a masterclass in diplomacy as the Chinese do not arrive in battleships, guns blazing conducting brief, forceful conversations. They are not known in our area of the world as expansionists by the way of military colonization.
John Tamihere, president of New Zealand's opposition Maori Party
"This is a masterclass in diplomacy as the Chinese do not arrive in battleships, guns blazing conducting brief, forceful conversations. They are not known in our area of the world as expansionists by the way of military colonization," he wrote.
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Tamihere said what the Chinese have done is treating each Pacific and Melanesian nation as a sovereign nation and entering into arrangements with them, not as second-class citizens, but as counterparts.
He spoke highly of the China-New Zealand free trade agreement which has been "the most successful" in New Zealand history, "derived from high-quality goods, demand and a mutually respectful relationship."
"I just don't like the stilted narrative that China is always the bad guy and I don't buy it because I don't see the evidence in it," Tamihere said, adding any sovereign nation has a right to determine its own foreign policy and its own destiny.
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Tamihere, who was the co-leader of the Maori Party, became president of the party on Thursday. Founded in 2004, the party advocates indigenous rights in New Zealand.