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MAY 2021

Mixed Sight: New Zealand, the Five Eyes and China

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Mixed Sight: New Zealand, the Five Eyes and China

U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Michael Mathews

Written by Dr. Binoy Kampmark.

The Five Eyes arrangement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand has always resembled a segregated, clandestine club.  Focused on the sharing of intelligence between countries of supposedly like mind, it has shown that even its own citizens cannot be guaranteed protection from the zeal of surveillance.

In recent years, the club has become a font of other intentions, nudging beyond the group’s original remit.  Since 2013, the intelligence alliance has seen more ministerial consultations between the countries.  In 2014, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott openly mentioned the partnership’s existence on national radio.  “It’s been around for some six decades and under this arrangement there is already very, very full and complete sharing.”  Two years later, it appeared in the Australian Defence White Paper with explicit enthusiasm. The authors noted that Australia’s membership of the group supplied it “with information superiority and intelligence cooperation that is a vital input to our defence planning.”

In 2020, meetings taking place between the five countries, notably at the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Treasury level, were officially identified as “Five Eyes”.  In May that year, the defence ministers from all five countries accepted a broader role for all in not only dealing with shared security challenges but “advance their shared values of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights.”

This move struck Ben Scott of the Lowy Institute as both mistaken and even counterproductive.  “It unnecessarily limits their membership and risks blurring the critical distinction between intelligence and policy.”  Well and good that cooperation should take place on a certain level (Scott approves, for instance, of those cases where “intelligence insights” between the powers can yield fruit) but any international coalition worth its constructive salt needed to be “as broad as possible.”

With the Five Eyes ever trained on the ambitions of China, its members have chosen to speak with one voice on such matters as human rights.  This has had the distorting effect of assuming that the five states all have identical concerns in their dealings with Beijing.

In November last year, the foreign ministers from the five issued a joint statement on Hong Kong: “Following the imposition of the National Security Law and postponement of September’s Legislative Council elections, this decision further undermines Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms.”  The actions constituted “a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

Certain powers within the alliance have simply chosen the position that what is in the US interest regarding China is in everybody’s interest.  In what can only be regarded as a fit of unspeakable toadying to Washington, the Australian contribution has been very much directed against its own interests.  China’s trade retaliations against Canberra across various goods and products has been savage: anti-subsidy and anti-dumping measures on Australian barley; the blacklisting of red meat exporters; the unofficial ban on Australian wine.  Bleeding and limping, Australia finds itself seeking redress at the World Trade Organisation through the body’s Dispute Settlement Understanding process.

New Zealand, however, is proving stubborn on any expansive role for the intelligence club, especially regarding China.  Last January, its Trade Minister Damian O’Connor felt inclined to rebuke Australia for not showing due deference to Beijing.  “If [Australia] were to follow us and show respect, I guess a little more diplomacy from time to time and be cautious with wording, they too could hopefully be in a similar situation [with China].”  The comments came in the wake of an upgrade of the 2008 free trade deal between the PRC and New Zealand.   Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta cheekily suggested that her country might mediate between the two countries.

In a speech on NZ-China relations delivered at the New Zealand China Council in Wellington on April 19, Mahuta acknowledged that China had been “our largest trading partner since 2017.”  She drew comparisons between the auspicious guardians of both countries: the serpentine aquatic creatures known as the Taniwha in Maori folklore and the Dragon of Chinese tradition.  “The Taniwha, like the Dragon, has the ability to understand the essence of its environment and changing conditions – as well as the ability to adapt and survive.”  There was an acknowledgment that neither the Dragon nor Taniwha could agree on all points and interests.

On human rights, New Zealand would adopt a “consistent, country agnostic manner.  We will not ignore the severity and impact of any particular country’s actions if they conflict with our longstanding and formal commitment to universal human rights.”  As to openly commenting on how it pertained to China, she saw little problem with public pronouncements on Hong Kong or the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang.  “At times we will do this in association with others that share our views and sometimes we will act alone.”

In comments addressed to the press after her speech, Mahuta admitted that New Zealand needed to be weaned off its heavy reliance on China.  “If we look at the context of our relationship with China and China as a major trading market, we know that we need to ensure that businesses in New Zealand have greater resilience through their market connections, their trade platform with countries beyond China.”

On the issue of the Five Eyes arrangements, however, Mahuta was adamant.  “We are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes relationship.”  It had a “specific purpose” and would not be invoked “as the first point of contact on messaging out on a range of issues.”  Preference would be shown towards “multilateral opportunities to express our interests on a number of issues.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern similarly felt that “a security intelligence platform” had its purposes; an umbrella of nations with “shared values” should be necessarily broader.  “We should be collectively raising issues – be it Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, the United States – or say, Germany and others.”

The independent position taken by the Ardern government caused more than a flutter in the UK and Australia.  The Times regarded this break with the other Anglophone allies as a reversal of “an agreement to expand the network’s remit.”  But none of this suggests that New Zealand has, in any way, fallen prostrate before Chinese overlords. New Zealand remains, as Mahuta has stated, concerned about China’s use of sanctions against Australia and its “aggressive, assertive and emboldened” position.  The narrative it has embraced, rather, is one of middling caution rather than outright bluster, choosing a more cautionary approach over speaking through the forum of an intelligence sharing agreement.   That relationship, Mahuta has reiterated, “was set up for a specific purpose, and it’s not the case that we need to invoke the Five Eyes response every time there’s an issue with China.”  Other members of the Five Eyes should take note.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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22 comments

  1. Lone Ranger says:

    New Zealand is the only multi colonial pseudo country.
    Its ruled by the UK, U.S., Australia and sometimes China.
    Slow clap…

    1. JIMI JAMES says:

      NZ RUN BT SOROS/NWO/DEEP STATE.THEY ALWAYS SPREAD CORONA TO OZ,NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND,BESIDES USA DOES NOT BELONG TO THE COMMONWEALTH THIS MUST BE REITERATED BECAUSE THE MEDIA WILL TRY TO USE ALL KINDS OF FAKE STORYS BACKED BY (NON LEADING FASCISTS)TO APPLEASE SOROS/CIA/UNELECT TROJAN NAMELY USA-EU-EPP,WHOM i MAY ADD
      CERTAINLY DON’T GIVE A RATS ARSE ABOUT CHINA NOR AUSTRALIA NOR BRITAIN NOR CANADA NOR EUROPE OR EVEN DARE I MENTION USA?

      The mission statemant is to see all countrys fail so the phaedo banksters to try to rape loot steal an pillage from each and every nation no matter where,china whoms least as vulnerable seens are self sufficient nowadays like russia branded as the bogey men,why?
      Because they are much stronger than the scamming banks,best rid the phaed for good!

      Maybe then see the light,sack payne and greeny drug pushers,focus on infastructures.

    2. Ma_Laoshi says:

      New Zealand is ruled by King Aragorn, they’ll be fine…

      1. Lone Ranger says:

        That was funny.

  2. johnny rotten says:

    In the same way that in the USA, the MIC has almost entirely occupied politics, in all countries of the 5 Squinted-Eyes, the enormous ponzi scheme of the MIC is dragging these countries to ruin, war is the keystone of this system, Together with the finance, to the MSM to the Social etc etc, if you take off the key, that is the war, the whole scheme collapses and drags into the mud all the rest of these nations, perhaps New Zealand begins to have bad presentiments in this regard, but It will never be her allowed to get rid of their deadly embrace, they will all fall together, the ending is already written.

  3. StillSameTeddyfromCD says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qy9PyD1rrY

    LIVESTREAM FROM ST PETERSBURG…NAVALNY “freedom” protests…this is TODAY APRIL…2021

    NOTE THAT FACE MASKING AND SOCIAL DISTANCE…IS “up to the individual” SINCE LAST JULY 2020…

    1. Robert Ferrin says:

      Well lo and behold it looks like one tenth of the population is out for a little exercise maybe to get on camera as they mill around like a herd of cattle waiting for someone anyone to tell them what to do.

      Now if you really want to see a real demonstration come to the U.S. where we have cities burning down all kinds of looting as BLM’s will show how to really do it to get some attention, but you must bring your own ball bat and cocktail’s for those aren’t furnished, and then they will take you on a tour of all the homeless camps from shining sea to shining sea and wind it up with a trip to that shining light on the hill where democracy was born

      1. paolinks says:

        One tenth? Yesterday evening there were much more people, where I live, for the movida!! Oh, we are under look-down ( on paper at least ).

        Is these are the numbers Navalny moves, Putin can sleep quietly.

    2. Tommy Jensen says:

      Yesterday I saw a city video from St. Petersburg with people all without masks and distancing.
      Should we understand it that way that Navalny movement demands freedom to wear masks, social distance and freedom to Mrna vaccines?

  4. shylockracy says:

    Xi’s terrorist Ziocorporate globalist business partners playing with him the exact same games they play with Putin, with the contextual difference that Russia dominates EUrope militarily while China dominates the Asia-Pacific economically.

    Either way, the only way for China to stop trading with Western Zioterrorists would be that the Western markets denied access to China’s business, something that’s not gonna happen.

  5. verner says:

    new zealand was quickly put in its place, by uk or the disunited states and no one in the five eyes is allowed any kind of free will even if you’re named jacinda ardern. pity since she seems to be directed by common sense and intelligence, hard to find elsewhere.

    1. John Wallace says:

      On human rights, New Zealand would adopt a “consistent, country agnostic manner. We will not ignore the severity and impact of any particular country’s actions if they conflict with our longstanding and formal commitment to universal human rights.”
      While she is quite vocal about the past treatment of Maori she is strangely quieter than a church mouse despite prodding on Israel and Palestine . She is the Foreign Affairs minister.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2fe7f4423e06b681c6b76a820ccadf76365db7b1525869ec2e4b44c3032bfc7c.jpg

  6. John Wallace says:

    5 Eyes was originally the US and UK to spy on Russia after the 2nd WW. It expanded late 1950’s to include UK’s staunchest allies Aus and NZ plus Canada who was also very staunch US ally. No one knew anything about this until around 2003. Not only is there 5 Eyes but also 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes .
    Five Eyes: US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
    Nine Eyes: Five Eyes + Denmark, France, Holland, Norway
    Fourteen Eyes: Nine Eyes + Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain

    1. Ivan Freely says:

      It may not be well known in the public arena back then but it wasn’t exactly a secret either. I’ve heard whispers about an alliance of sort but not as “Five Eyes”.

      1. JIMI JAMES says:

        5 eyes is a deep satate wifes tale,downer is a poof it and its henchies are not running nations,nor are the medias and the tools whom proclaim this as god!
        Irrelevant slangs,problem is too many a years serving the losers instead of winning

    2. Hind Abyad says:

      You forgot Israel Chaitanyahu; said we’re the second eye

  7. cechas vodobenikov says:

    4 little insect eyes and 1 blind cyclops (USA)….Colin Powell found dildo and claimed it was WMD in Iraq—amerikans believed him

  8. Ma_Laoshi says:

    Regime change in 5, 4, 3, …

  9. Skoolafish says:

    PM Bibi Netanyahu Boasts about the Israeli NSA Unit 8200 Israel is the Second Eye of Five Eyes

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwv5_bTlgjs

    1. Hind Abyad says:

      Interesting..

      ‘Syrian Anti-aircraft Missile Explodes in Southern Israel, IDF Strikes Near Damascus’
      An anti-aircraft missile launched by Syria toward an Israeli jet exploded near Dimona in southern Israel overnight between Wednesday and Thursday. An attack was also carried out overnight near Damascus, which Syria has attributed to Israel.

      The IDF confirmed in a statement that a Syrian SA5 missile was fired toward one of its aircraft’s, but overflew its target. The Israeli Air Force tried to shoot down the missile but the interceptor failed to down it – and the AA missile eventually landed near Dimona”

      The silence of Bennett and Netenyahu in the face of these thugs is deafening. Ditto UTJ and Shas. I guess they do not want to alienate the Religious Zionists from any potential coalition. Pretty low. …Haaretz
      ————————————————————————————————————————–
      Syria’s Missile Strike on Israel’s Nuclear Facility – Interview with Syriangirl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4hsTYMsYj8

  10. StillSameTeddyfromCD says:

    HomeOp-ed
    America is deluding itself if it thinks Vietnam will provide it with missile bases, or help it at all, in any conflict with China
    Tom Fowdy
    Tom Fowdy
    is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.

    28 Apr, 2021 16:00
    Get short URL
    America is deluding itself if it thinks Vietnam will provide it with missile bases, or help it at all, in any conflict with China
    This picture taken and released on October 30, 2020 by the Vietnam News Agency shows Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (R) bumping elbows to greet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before a meeting in Hanoi. © Bui Lam Khanh / Vietnam News Agency / AFP
    7297
    Follow RT onRT
    Hanoi may have its differences with Beijing, and be wary of its powerful neighbour, but a high-level meeting this week has demonstrated that it won’t ever join the West’s anti-China alliance.
    Despite their shared ideology, anti-imperialist worldview, and Mao’s historical support for North Vietnam in its long struggle against the United States between 1955 and 1975, China and Vietnam aren’t allies. In fact, the longstanding enmity between the two countries is huge.

    For thousands of years, Vietnam has perceived Beijing as a dominant regional neighbour that has increasingly sought to subjugate them to their rule. From once being a part of the Han dynasty to being a ‘tributary state’ of the Qing dynasty and to being invaded by China in 1979 as part of Deng Xiaoping’s strategy to eliminate the influence of the Soviet Union in South East Asia, Hanoi has many real reasons to feel wary of Beijing.

    READ MORE
    Mother of all ironies: US veterans are returning to Vietnam ‘for a better life’Mother of all ironies: US veterans are returning to Vietnam ‘for a better life’
    There have also been tensions between the two countries over the South China Sea, where they have overlapping territorial claims.

    With this backdrop, it is no surprise that the United States, aiming to galvanise countries against China and militarily encircle them, has perceived Vietnam (despite the destruction it once wrought on the country) as a potential chess piece in their ‘Indo-Pacific’ strategy, to the point of believing Hanoi could be persuaded to allow the US to base missiles there.

    One former senior US defence adviser told the Military Times last year that Vietnam was a potential key partner in any fight against China because the country, which shares a 1,300-kilometre border with its northern neighbour, “has some wonderful geography. You can have good exterior lines versus the Chinese.” He added: “If you’re in Vietnam and the Philippines, suddenly you’ve got the Chinese in the South China Sea pretty badly surrounded.”

    An elusive recent investigation by the Grayzone sets out in detail the extensive efforts Washington has taken to attempt to bolster ties with Hanoi in order to oppose Beijing. This has included visits by Mike Pompeo (he didn’t seem to mind ‘these’ communists) and an end to a US arms embargo by Barack Obama. US strategists have also pitched it as an alternative to China in supply chains.

    But any lingering hopes this might persuade the country to join in America’s anti-Chinese push have been all but extinguished this week.

    ALSO ON RT.COM
    The cynical hypocrisy of the world’s No1 propagandist: US pledges $300mn to fund massive global anti-China media machine
    On Monday, Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe travelled to Vietnam and met with the general secretary of the country’s ruling Communist Party Committee, Nguyen Phu Trong, as well as President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, in Hanoi. During his visit, Chinese media outlet Xinhua stated that Phuc commented that Vietnam “will never follow other countries in opposing China.”

    As the Grayzone article notes, Pentagon officials and its supporting think tanks were living in dreamland in thinking that they could shift the country’s non-aligned stance and position US troops and missiles there in an attempt to encircle China.

    Vietnam’s foreign policy strategy has consistently centred on ‘three nos’: no military alliances, no aligning with one country against another, and no foreign military bases on Vietnamese soil. But the US has blithely ignored these strictures, hoping that it could exploit the region’s territorial disputes to bring it on side.

    Despite such disputes, and the obvious inequality of power between China and Vietnam, Hanoi ultimately remains non-aligned and it is very much in its interests to remain that way. Why so? Vietnam does not want to be controlled or dominated by Beijing, but ties with the PRC also remain strategically beneficial and important. The ideological survival and success of the PRC is a safe haven for that of Vietnam’s political system as a fellow communist state undergoing a path of economic reform.

    In a world without communism in China, Vietnam would be ideologically and strategically vulnerable to the influence of the West, which is presently happy to utilise Hanoi as an ambiguous strategic asset precisely because it is not a formal ‘ally’ of Beijing, even if it will not team up against them. For the Vietnamese, sitting on the fence is a ‘win-win’ strategy.

    Vietnam is sometimes even touted as a new member of the ‘Quad’ grouping against Beijing by the US, but the reality is far more nuanced and less promising for Washington. Hanoi is balancing a number of priorities – the survival of its own regime and communist system among them – while also aiming to sustain “strategic independence” from Beijing. It’s a very difficult tightrope and inasmuch, Washington shouldn’t expect too much, not least the bizarre nature of attempting to transform a country it once utterly destroyed into a military ally.

    Hanoi is smarter than to become a ‘new Tito’ – a small communist state which aligns with the West, only to be carved up as and when the bigger communist foe is defeated. The Vietnamese strategy is all about staying calm, staying quiet, and finding space for itself.

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    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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