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Using national security as a proxy to cut economic ties will hurt globalization: New Zealand professor

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is paying his first prime ministerial visit to China from June 25 to 30 since he was sworn in as the country's prime minister in January 2023 and will attend the 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos Forum, in Tianjin.

“This is Hipkins’ first major taste of international diplomacy and shows his prioritization of the relationship between China and New Zealand. What I am hoping for with Minister Hipkins is the expansion of cooperation, not just on the exchange of goods and commodities, but also of people and ideas for peaceful cooperation,” said Alexander Gillespie, a professor of international law at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.

China and New Zealand should expand cooperation based on shared values

The total volume of trade between China and New Zealand reached 167.184 billion RMB in 2022. In the same year,both sides signed an agreement to upgrade a Free Trade Agreement.

Gillespie held that the China-New Zealand relationship is multi-faceted with more spotlight being put on economic and trading terms. “But the bilateral cooperation needs to be expanded in other areas as well, such as tackling climate change and helping underdeveloped areas,” Gillespie said.

Amid worldwide tensions and the US's strong push for its "Indo-Pacific Strategy" in the South Pacific, Gillespie believes that China and New Zealand should join hands on improving infrastructure for the poorer countries in the Pacific region by bringing technology and building more schools, hospitals, and roads. “They need the basics, while China is quite advanced, as is New Zealand. The key thing is finding areas where there is cooperation and agreed outputs based on shared values.” Gillespie said.

“China has made great strides in energy transformation, not just with the vehicles, but also with the infrastructure and the design of new cities. While New Zealand is trying to shift energy not just on cars, but tracks and other larger vehicles, where we can work with China,” Gillespie added.

In addition, Gillespie also highlights the bilateral cooperation on solar technology for the sake of both sides’ great advantages and similarities in solar technology.

National security should not be a proxy to cut economic ties

According to reports, on May 31, Blinken said to the press after the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council ministerial meeting that with regard to China, the United States and the EU are not looking for a confrontation, a Cold War or decoupling, but are focused on de-risking.

“I understand the necessity to de-risk. But each step must be justifiable and as much as possible transparent. Each country must look after its security, but not use that as a proxy to cut other economic ties,” Gillespie interpreted.

According to Gillespie, the biggest risk is that what starts as a legitimate step to protect security could expand into other areas that aren't related to security, which will hurt globalization.

Gillespie stressed that economic globalization is one of the best tools we have for peaceful development in the future. We have to be very careful that we do not derail globalization with unilateral actions.

“The economic ties between China and New Zealand are so valuable. We have to make sure that it evolves and adheres to the principles that were understood at the time when the diplomatic change was made and keep looking back on the foundations to the agreement, but not stray too far for what brings us together,” said Gillespie.

People-to-people exchange brings down barriers

Gillespie stressed that more interactions among people between the two sides matter because it will break down barriers.

In Gillespie's mind, cultural exchanges play a significant role in cross-country interaction. “Sometimes we just need people to have a game or sport together or laugh at each other's music and other fun things. The more time people spend in each other's countries, the more they will understand each other's culture, history, and others,”

A more fruitful achievement, in Gillespie’s view, should be made at the educational level to boost exchanges between young people as well. “We would share degrees to allow students to acquire a degree after finishing their study and spending time in both countries.”

Gillespie also introduced that there is a bird called the godwit, which flies from New Zealand to the Yellow Sea in China and takes the longest migration route in the world. He is trying to make people realize that a small bird, as a piece of outstanding universal heritage, ties local communities in China and local communities in New Zealand.

Reporter | Rofel, Steven

Video | Zhang Tianxiong

Poster | Mia

Editor | Olivia, Steven, Jerry

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