Our foreign policy should be energetic and proactive

Our foreign policy should be energetic and proactive
Simon Bridges

Wellington, August 9, 2020

We are in a very significant moment globally.

There are a raft of major challenges making the world more unpredictable and dangerous than it has been for a long time.

From Covid-19 to climate change to a new China-US Cold War of sorts, we are experiencing the most worrying geopolitical fracturing since the darkest days of the first Cold War.

For New Zealand, I believe this means we need to be proactive in looking out for our interests and standing up for our values in a way we have not for some time.

These values include democracy, freedom, human rights, safety and security.

The Hong Kong situation

The most significant global issue, outside of Covid-19, right at this moment is the national security law in Hong Kong. It undermines human rights and the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework guaranteed in the Sino-British Guaranteed Declaration and adds to a list of relatively recent concerns around China’s actions including militarisation of the South China Sea and repression of the Uighur minority.

National joins our 5 Eyes Partners in condemning the law and what is happening more broadly in Hong Kong and we call on the government to also do so more forthrightly.

While Foreign Minister Winston Peters has expressed his concern, more clear condemnation is in line with our values. I am surprised that the government has not been clearer, given Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s clear values-based foreign policy stance and the posturing of Mr Peters previously on China.

While I cannot nail down all details of our policies from Opposition, I believe that the government has rightly suspended the extradition law in place with Hong Kong and I would also encourage it to consider safe haven visas as Britain and Australia have for Hong Kong nationals.

Energising international relations

Given the uncertainties and dangers internationally, now is a time for greater energy on international relations where we seek deeper partnerships with large democracies in the Indo-Pacific such as Japan and India and also the likes of Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Pacific Island nations.

While Foreign Affairs do not turn elections in New Zealand, I wanted this portfolio given its heightened importance today when compared with our past.

Now is a time to be energetic and proactive internationally.

Simon Bridges is the elected member of Parliament from Tauranga and National Party’s Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Justice. The above article (edited appropriately now) was sent to us more than four weeks has been unfortunately delayed. Our apologies.  

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