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Jacinda Ardern in Beijing with President Xi last month. She said that the Belt and Road initiative has evolved and her government wants to help it expand RAO AIMIN/XINHUA/ALAMY

New Zealand breaks with allies to join China’s Belt and Road project

PortandTerminal.com, May 9, 2019

In April it was Italy, now it’s New Zealand. Washington wants its allies to steer clear of Beijing, but they can’t ignore the allure of its Belt and Road Initiative

In recent months, New Zealand’s security agencies have expressed concerns about the country’s vulnerability to foreign interference at the hands of Beijing.

They will not be happy to learn then that New Zealand has broken away from its western intelligence allies with an offer to support China’s contentious global infrastructure and investment project.

The initiative, also known as One Belt, One Road, is the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping and aims to build railways, port facilities, power systems, and other infrastructure across the globe. Xi has sold it all as a model of peaceful development.

The initiative involves Chinese state banks offering funds to develop transport schemes around the world to facilitate trade.

Twitter reactions to the news

“Interested how America sees this. Infiltrating New Zeland (sic) is that easy.”

“NZ buyer beware when you get into bed with Winnie the Pooh or Xi Jinping as he is really known.”

“Yep sovereign country every right to do it. Insanely reckless. This policy is not in the best interest of the people of New Zealand”

Supporters present it as a development initiative but critics say it is primarily to advance Beijing’s strategic interests and even a form of “debt colonisation”. Beijing has recently tried to recast the programme, promising to improve standards and transparency.

Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister, said she believed the scheme had “really evolved” and her government was prepared to offer Beijing advice on expanding it. Her trade minister, David Parker, said that New Zealand believed that it could “find a win-win” together with China.

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