For New Zealand After Ardern, China Remains a Tricky Balancing Act

For New Zealand After Ardern, China Remains a Tricky Balancing Act
New Zealand’s then-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 1, 2019 (pool photo by Kenzaburo Fukuhara via AP).

Jacinda Ardern’s surprise exit from New Zealand politics has ushered in a new prime minister, Chris Hipkins. Despite the rather abrupt leadership change, Wellington is unlikely to make wholesale changes to its foreign policy in the short term.

The most sensitive topic on New Zealand’s foreign affairs agenda is China. Ardern had increasingly spoken in more generous terms about China in recent months, after Beijing had expressed its displeasure with New Zealand’s increasingly pro-U.S. position since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In what turned out to be her final speech on foreign affairs, in mid-December, Ardern had signaled that she aimed to lead a “trade mission” to China early in 2023. Hipkins will now lead that visit and is likely to maintain a similarly warmer stance toward China, which remains New Zealand’s largest trading partner. It should come as little surprise, then, that in his few public comments on foreign affairs so far, Hipkins has called China “incredibly important economically.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review