Category: Politics

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Geoffrey Miller: How will New Zealand handle the new war in the Middle East?

The weekend’s surprise and brutal attack on Israel by Hamas fighters has the potential to reshape the Middle East – and will only further increase global geopolitical instability. The initial 36 hours of the assault by Hamas on Israel have already taken at least 600 Israeli lives – easily making it the bloodiest time for Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In addition, dozens of Israelis have been kidnapped and taken back to Gaza to be used as bargaining chips. While there will be a range of motivations for why Hamas chose to act in the way it did...

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Who will be New Zealand’s next foreign minister?

Change is coming. A shakeup of the ministers responsible for New Zealand’s international relations seems almost guaranteed, irrespective of the country’s election result on October 14. Coalition politics are likely to play a key role in appointments related to foreign affairs. On current opinion polling, a government led by the centre-right National Party would probably need to work with both the right-wing Act and more centrist New Zealand First if it wants to govern with a stable majority. Winston Peters, New Zealand First’s leader, has already served as foreign minister twice before: once from 2005-2008 and then again from 2017-2020...

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New Zealand changes tack in the Gulf

A sign of things to come. That might be the best way to interpret New Zealand trade minister Damien O’Connor’s recent foray into the Middle East. O’Connor stopped off in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on a brief, yet important trip that comes as New Zealand prepares for its October 14 election. The biggest takeaway was that New Zealand would enter preliminary talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a new Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) – mirroring a new approach announced by Australia in 2022. Wellington is also following in the footsteps of countries that have already signed similar...

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Should New Zealand build bridges with the BRICS?

The BRICS are back. Johannesburg will this week host the 15th annual summit of the BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The loose grouping may be about to become tighter – and bigger. Some 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the BRICS, which already represent over 40 per cent of the world’s population and 30 per cent of global GDP when measured using purchasing power parity (PPP). Potential new BRICS members span the globe, from Africa to Asia and Latin America. Candidates and formal applicants include Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE....

New Zealand’s big foreign and defence policy shake-up

New Zealand is joining the pack to counter China – and will probably seek to join AUKUS. Those are the key takeaways from a barrage of new plans to reshape New Zealand’s defence policy. Not just one, but three new reports were released simultaneously on Friday morning by the country’s Labour defence minister, Andrew Little. These include New Zealand’s inaugural National Security Strategy, along with a military-focused Defence Policy and Strategy Statement. A third document, the ‘Future Force Design Principles’, spells out some further general recommendations for reconfiguring New Zealand’s military. Collectively, the publicly-released plans – which run to over...

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Antony Blinken’s endgame for New Zealand

Antony Blinken is heading down under. The US Secretary of State’s visit to New Zealand and Australia this week comes as the two countries jointly host the FIFA Women’s World Cup. New Zealand foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta has highlighted the potential for ‘good old-fashioned sports diplomacy’ – and the Secretary is scheduled to attend the United States vs. Netherlands match in Wellington on Thursday afternoon. But the travel is more than just a chance to take in a game. Antony Blinken’s visit just happens to coincide with a trip to Wellington by Anthony Albanese. The Australian Prime Minister is coming...

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New Zealand gets ready to embrace NATO

Is New Zealand about to join ‘NATO+’? That seems to be the effective endgame, if reports ahead of New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ attendance at the NATO summit in Lithuania are anything to go by. Formally, the expansion by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into the Indo-Pacific is unlikely to use such snappy shorthand. Instead of NATO+, the more arcane ‘IP4’ nomenclature looks set to be used by the summit’s joint statement issued in Vilnius, a reference to the four NATO-friendly countries in the Indo-Pacific (or ‘IP’): Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. For a second year...

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Chris Hipkins’ successful meeting with Xi Jinping

Warm and constructive. That’s how Chris Hipkins wanted his meeting with Xi Jinping on Tuesday to be remembered. The New Zealand Prime Minister deployed the ‘warm and constructive’ phrase at least eight times in a subsequent press conference with New Zealand media. Hipkins was also keen to note that ‘the meeting was at no point adversarial’. This served to reinforce the impression of warmth. It also matched with opening public comments by Xi, who said Hipkins’ visit was of ‘great significance’. Xi pointed to the ‘tangible benefits to the two peoples’ that had emerged since China entered into a Comprehensive...

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Geoffrey Miller: What to expect from Chris Hipkins’ trip to China

Timing is everything. After months of mixed signals, Chris Hipkins will head to China at the end of June. The New Zealand Prime Minister’s long-awaited visit to Beijing will come shortly before he attends July’s NATO summit in Vilnius. The careful timing of the PM’s China trip – billed as a trade mission – offers advantages to both the Chinese and New Zealand sides. For Beijing, the tour will provide a valuable opportunity to influence the leader of a ‘Five Eyes’ country, just before Hipkins takes his seat at the NATO table in Lithuania. NATO last year launched a new...

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How fake AI images could stoke tensions in the Indo-Pacific

Seeing is no longer believing. Surprisingly realistic – yet fake – images created by Artificial Intelligence (AI) are here. To date, most have seemed more like curiosities than genuine deception attempts. Last month, it was revealed that New Zealand’s National Party had used the AI image generation app Midjourney to produce promotional images. The results included imaginary healthcare workers and fearful-looking citizens worried about crime. In this case, the use of AI was relatively benign – the AI creations effectively replaced the stock photos that would have been used in the past. Until a media outlet raised suspicions, few people... - Understand the world through New Zealand