In recent months, and especially July 2020, New Zealand has undertaken several moves to align itself with the US in its anti-China policy.
Australia is, more or less, entirely aligned, judging by its rhetoric regarding Hong Kong and other issues.
New Zealand is ramping up its military spending in line with a previous statement.
Ministers from the top-level intelligence-sharing network that includes New Zealand, Australia, the US, Britain and Canada issued a statement on June 24th, promising to “advance defence and security cooperation” to defend the “global order that is increasingly being challenged.”
As such, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government, a coalition between Labour, the Greens and the right-wing nationalist NZ First Party, is committed to spending $20 billion on military upgrades.
This money is being diverted during the COVID-19 social crisis, alongside the economic crisis that’s been worsened by the pandemic.
On June 26th, the NZ Navy received its new fleet tanker, the Aotearoa, purpose-built for $500 million by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries. The Aotearoa is the biggest ship ever to serve in the Navy and can operate in the Pacific and the Antarctic.
After a short period of specialist equipment fit-out the 173.2 m-long auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) vessel, which is replacing decommissioned fleet replenishment tanker Endeavour , will conduct sea trials before embarking on a series of port visits.
Aotearoa is capable of carrying 8,000 tonnes of diesel fuel, 1,550 tonnes of aviation fuel, and 250 tonnes of fresh water for resupply operations. It is also capable of carrying up to 14 standard 20 ft containers (or, double stacked, a maximum of 22), and producing 100 tonnes of fresh water each day, according to the New Zealand Navy.
On July 8th, Defence Minister Ron Mark, announced the purchase of 43 new Australian-designed Bushmaster armoured vehicles for the army.
Mark praised the $270 billion military spending program announced by Australia’s government this month that includes new long-range missiles.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told media tensions between the US and China meant the world was in a dangerous period comparable to the 1930s and 1940s.
NZ Defense Minister Mark said that:
“What is good for Australia and the defense of Australia is ultimately good for New Zealand.”
Canberra, he said, had shown “a clear commitment… to the defense of not just its own interests, but also to our Pacific partners, and a full realization of the range of challenges that we’re all facing.”
Mark added that he was “very pleased that the door is wide open to New Zealand defence industry players to tender” for Australian military contracts.
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