Tue, 09 Aug 2022

Wellington [New Zealand], August 4 (ANI): New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta met her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit and said that de-escalation is needed in the Taiwan Strait, as China started its military drills in the region.

According to the statement released by the New Zealand government, "the Minister restated Aotearoa New Zealand's interest in peace and stability in the region, including across the Taiwan Strait, and emphasised the importance of de-escalation, diplomacy and dialogue.

This meeting came after Beijing commenced its military drills around Taiwan's main island, in retaliation for United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting the democratically led island nation.

Mahuta, who is in Cambodia to participate ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting, expressed concerns regarding the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.

"Minister Mahuta acknowledged the importance of Aotearoa New Zealand and China's relationship - this year marking 50 years of diplomatic relations - and our significant economic, people-to-people, and cultural connections. Both sides highlighted the areas where China and New Zealand cooperate, including trade, agriculture, climate change and the environment. Both sides underbred the importance of organising high-level visits when COVID conditions allowed," the statement reads.

Mahuta also pointed to the need to look beyond the "firsts" to a mature relationship that respects New Zealand's independent foreign policy.

In relation to the Pacific, the minister emphasised the importance of the Pacific Islands Forum, and Pacific-led responses to Pacific priorities, including in the field of security. She also stressed the importance of all ASEAN partners, making the utmost efforts to help return Myanmar to the path of peace and democracy.

Mahuta expressed concern at the record number of ballistic missile tests conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea this year in violation of UN Security Council resolutions; as well as over developments in the South China Sea.

"The Minister urged China to be clear, in line with its commitment to the UN Charter, that it does not support Russia's unlawful aggression against Ukraine, and encouraged China to use its access and influence with Russia to promote a return to diplomacy," the statement reads.

New Zealand minister also accepted Wang Yi's invitation to visit China when conditions are met. (ANI)

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