Author: Geoffrey Miller

Democracy Project logo

Jacinda Ardern strikes a softer tone on China

Today’s speech by Jacinda Ardern to the China Business Summit in Auckland was full of soothing words for Beijing. The headline-grabber was Ardern’s comment that ‘a few plans are afoot’ for New Zealand ministers to return to China – and that the Prime Minister herself hopes to return to the country ‘to renew and refresh in-person connections’. This might come sooner than we think. While China’s current elimination approach to Covid-19 heavily restricts in-person travel, New Zealand’s own experience shows how quickly these settings can change. After abandoning its own zero-covid policy, New Zealand this week fully re-opens to all...

Democracy Project logo

Joe Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia could help New Zealand reset its own relationship with the Middle East

Joe Biden’s controversial fist-bump with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Saudi crown prince, may help New Zealand to forge its own new direction in the Middle East. The US president’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia showed that despite real concerns over human rights, the Middle East’s strategic importance in the current global geopolitical jigsaw puzzle cannot be ignored. Biden’s meeting with MBS in the Saudi port city of Jeddah – four years after the horrific killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – was a triumph of realism over idealism. In essence, Biden’s trip was all about convincing Saudi Arabia to...

Democracy Project logo

Is Jacinda Ardern rethinking her China strategy?

Is New Zealand suddenly softening its more pro-Western foreign policy – and its tougher line on China? After months of inching towards the West, Jacinda Ardern’s set-piece speeches on her Europe trip last week seem to have been crafted to try and keep observers guessing. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid, the New Zealand Prime Minister gave a speech that – in tone at least – seemed designed to evoke memories of the direction that her Labour predecessor David Lange had taken in the 1980s. Lange built his foreign policy on the trinity of Labour’s nuclear-free...

Democracy Project logo

Can Jacinda Ardern’s starpower save New Zealand’s free trade deal with the EU?

Jacinda Ardern will need to deploy every aspect of her starpower if she is to have any hope of rescuing New Zealand’s faltering free trade negotiations with the European Union (EU). The Prime Minister has branded each of her four foreign trips so far this year as ‘trade missions’ – and the labelling will certainly ring true on her visit to Brussels this week. On Thursday, Ardern will hold direct talks with Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission. The former German defence minister has become a familiar face on New Zealand television screens over the past...

Democracy Project logo

Tale of two summits – why Jacinda Ardern said no to the Commonwealth, but yes to NATO

Jacinda Ardern’s decision to attend the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Spain – but to skip the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda – symbolises the changes she is making to New Zealand foreign policy. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) starts today in Kigali, while the NATO summit will be held in Madrid next week. However, Jacinda Ardern is only attending the NATO summit. She is sending her foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta, to attend the Commonwealth meeting in her place. Ardern is hardly alone with her decision to stay away from CHOGM –...

Democracy Project logo

Why is New Zealand’s defence minister visiting South Korea?

New Zealand’s defence minister, Peeni Henare, has had a very busy first half of the year. In January, Henare was the face of New Zealand’s relief effort to Tonga, following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Then, from March onwards, Henare was often involved in Jacinda Ardern’s announcements of military support for Ukraine. The Government initially decided to supply only defensive (or ‘non-lethal’) equipment to Kyiv, which took the form of body armour, helmets and vests. Cabinet initially declined a request by Henare for New Zealand to also supply ‘lethal aid’ weaponry to Ukraine – but that decision...

Democracy Project logo

Nanaia Mahuta under pressure as Pacific’s geopolitical Great Game heats up

As a new ‘Great Game’ for control of the Pacific escalates, New Zealand’s foreign minister is coming under pressure from all sides. For those keeping score, China has now signed co-operation agreements with Samoa and Kiribati, while the US has convinced Fiji to join its new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). Most details of China’s new agreements have yet to be released, but they reportedly focus on economics and development – rather than hard security. But like the rather vague and weak IPEF on the Western side, the mere existence of the agreements is currently what counts. As geopolitical...

Al Jazeera Arabic studio in 2012

How I started doing yoga / كيف بدأت ممارسة اليوغا

في وقت فراغي انا أحب ممارسة اليوغا. انا بدأت قبل سنة ونصف وليس لدي أي ندم! اردت منذ وقت طويل تجربة شيء جديد للرياضة وفي رأيي، نوع الرياضة هذا ممتاز للكثير من الناس. وجدت استوديو اليوغا صغير في مدينتي وحتى الآن انا سعيد جدا مع اختياري: اصحاب الأستوديو هم زوج وزوجة وهما لطفاء جدا. في البداية كنت خائفا قليلا لان اليوغا كانت شيئا جديدا بالنسبة لي. ولكن معلمو اليوغا اظهروا كل وضعيات اليوغا المهمة في دورة المبتدئين وأكدوا دائما أن هم شيء هو أن تستمع الى جسمك. أعتقد أنه حتى الآن وضعيتي المفضلة هي وضعية مواجهة الكلب السفلي. بطبيعة الحال...

Democracy Project logo

Albanese’s Australian election victory and Biden’s trip to Asia set the scene for Ardern’s US trip

Jacinda Ardern’s trip to the United States this week has been months in the making. A stop in Washington DC is already locked in, but the Prime Minister’s recent positive test for Covid-19 has delayed the official announcement of a meeting with President Joe Biden. Reports now suggest Ardern is likely to call at the White House next week. New Zealand’s breakdown in relations with the US in the 1980s over Labour’s nuclear-free policy – which led to Washington suspending its obligations to Wellington under the ANZUS defence alliance in 1986 – means that any top-level engagement carries particular significance....

Democracy Project logo

Jacinda Ardern continues to forge a more US-friendly foreign policy

International analyst Geoffrey Miller reads between the lines of Jacinda Ardern’s speech to this week’s US business summit in Auckland Jacinda Ardern is slowly but surely shifting New Zealand’s foreign policy towards the West. That was the underlying theme of a keynote address by New Zealand’s Prime Minister this week. Ardern mentioned China only once by name when she spoke to the US business summit in Auckland on Monday, but Beijing was clearly on her mind throughout the 3000-word address. Some of the hardest-hitting passages came early in the speech and appeared deliberately indirect and oblique, leaving it up to... - Understand the world through New Zealand