Australia, NZ And The Oceanic Equation With China

Australia, NZ And The Oceanic Equation With China

China recently cancelled its economic dialogue with Australia amidst continuous conflict since the pandemic started. Meanwhile, New Zealand, Australia’s Oceanic neighbour, who normally has a different stance on China, recently recognized China’s Uighur rights violation though with a caveat. In that light, let’s look at the equation between the three and how they respond to China differently.

Crux of the Matter

What Happened Recently
China indefinitely halted ‘China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue’. It was done just after Australia cancelled Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project between its state Victoria and China.

Across In New Zealand
NZ officially recognized human rights abuse of Uighurs in Xinjiang of China. However, it didn’t recongize it as ‘genocide’ on demand of PM Jacinda Ardern’s party. Still, the move alleviated widespread accusation of NZ ignoring China’s violations.

A Tale Of Two Countries
Oceanic nations Australia and New Zealand have widely differed in response to China. Generally, the former has more aggressive policy.

Australian Policy

  • Australia was among the 1st to ban Huawei and ZTE 5G of China in 2018 over ‘security issues’.
  • It was also among the nations not working with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and had in fact cancelled the one between its state Victoria and China.
  • The big ‘dent’ came in 2020, when Australia called for independent investigation into Coronavirus origin.
  • In turn, China, Australia’s biggest trade partner, imposed heavy sanctions on its exports like 80% on Barley, 200% on wine etc.
  • Chinese investment in Australia also decreased by 61%.

New Zealand

  • Analysts claim NZ is more pro-China in policies than Australia.
  • New Zeland was the 1st developed nation to sign ‘Free Trade Agreement’ with China in 2008.
  • Notably, NZ was the 1st ‘Five Eyes’ group country to join China’s BRI.
  • The country also refused joint condemnation of Uighur conditions with Five Eyes group.

Five Eyes is an intelligence sharing group formed in WW2. The countries members if this group are Australia, Canada, NZ, UK and US.


  • Australia and NZ have China as their biggest trade partner which leads to constraint on level of antagonism they can afford with China.
  • Both, although recognizing ‘rights violation’, refuse to recognize treatment of Uighurs as ‘genocide’.

  • The south China sea is an important trade route for transportation of crude oil. It creates the route from Arabian gulf to Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
  • The Nine-dash line is a self-defined demarcation line adopted by China. It is used by them for their claims of territorialization over major parts of south China sea.
  • Mineral deposits like titaniferous magnetite, zircon, monazite, tin, gold, and chromite are highly exploited in near shore regions in the South China sea.

Who Is Jacinda Ardern Who Got Re-Elected As New Zealand PM?

Who Is Jacinda Ardern Who Got Re-Elected As New Zealand PM?

Let us take a look at the career of Jacinda Ardern, who recently got re-elected as the PM, as well as the voting structure in New Zealand.

Crux of the Matter

2020 Elections
The Labour Party of New Zealand (NZ) recently won in a landslide victory in the national elections, with Jacinda Ardern set to serve a second term as the Prime Minister. The party won 64 out of the 120 Parliamentary seats, showing its best result in more than 50 years.

Labour party achieved 49% vote, while the opposition group ‘National Party’ got 27% vote. No party has achieved a clear majority in NZ since adopting the MMP system in 1996.

What Is The MMP In New Zealand?
The Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) was adopted in NZ in 1996. In the system, citizens of NZ vote twice in the elections:

  • 1st time: To choose the preferred party.
  • 2nd time: To choose the preferred candidate who would become the electorate Member of Parliament (MP).

The remaining seats are filled from the ‘party lists’ of the Parties, and these candidates are known as ‘list MPs’. NZ Parliament also has some seats reserved for the Maori people, who are indigenous Polynesian people of NZ. The MMP has increased the diversity of candidates being elected in the country.

Who Is Jacinda Ardern?

  • Jacinda Ardern is popularly known as “anti-Trump” for her empathetic leadership.
  • Joined the Labour Party at the age of 18.
  • Elected as MP in 2008.
  • Elected as the PM in 2017 – became New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister and became the youngest PM of New Zealand in 150 years, and became youngest female leader in the world – replaced in 2019 by Sanna Marin, who became Finland’s PM at the age of 34.
  • Started the ‘Families Package’ in 2018 – provides $60/week to families having a child born on or after 1 July 2018 till the child turns 1.
  • 2018: Became the first leader to give birth ‘in office’ since Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan in 1990.
  • 2018: Became the first NZ PM to march in the ‘Gay pride parade’.
  • Gained international praise for her response to the Christchurch mosque attacks, where 51 people were killed. She met and consoled families of the victims, and announced a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles within 6 days of the attack.
  • June 2020: Announced free sanitary products for girls in schools

“Go Hard, Go Early”
Ardern has been praised for her Covid-19 strategy, which she herself described as “go hard, and go early”.

  • 15 March: Closed borders for foreigners and made quarantine compulsory for the returning citizens.
  • 23 March: Imposed a lockdown which was considered strict even by international standards.
  • Ensured mass testing in the early months of the pandemic.
  • Only 25 deaths due to Covid-19 in the total population of 5 million as of 19 October. ~5 deaths/million due to Covid – one of the lowest Covid deaths per million in the world.
  • NZ went 102 days without “local transmission” of Covid-19 cases between May and August 2020.

Ardern has mainly been criticized for the following issues:

  • Less than 500 homes built in the KiwiBuild affordable housing scheme (out of original 100,000).
  • Removed proposal of capital gains tax.
  • Child poverty still a concern.

Analysts have pointed to the economic challenge for Ardern, as NZ economy recently witnessed its worst recession due to the lockdown and the closing of its boundary.

  • The longest place name in the world is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a hill in Hawkes Bay in NZ
  • In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote. Katherine Sheppard is probably the most famous suffragist of the country and appears on the 10 New Zealand dollars.
  • Since New Zealand is still a part of the commonwealth, Elizabeth II is still the queen of New Zealand and she even appears on the 20 New Zealand Dollar.

New Zealand: 100 Days Without Covid-19

New Zealand: 100 Days Without Covid

After New Zealand recorded no locally transmitted Covid-19 case since the last 100 days, let us take a look at its unorthodox leader Jacinda Ardern and her response to the pandemic, along with a glance at the history of reforms done by her.

Crux of the Matter

On 9 August 2020, New Zealand completed 100 days without recording a Covid-19 case transmitted locally, with the last case due to a community spread being reported on 1 May. 9 August was also the fourth consecutive day with no new Covid-19 cases reported in the country.

1,569 cases of Covid-19 and 22 deaths due to the virus have been recorded since the outbreak, with the country having only 21 active cases as of 9 August.

Similar Cases
Taiwan had reported in July that no local case of Covid-19 had emerged in more than 66 days. Vietnam had completed 99 days without any cases due to community transmission until July. The situation turned out for the worse as Vietnam’s Da Nang city became the epicentre of the disease by the end of the month.

How Did They Do It?
In her statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that her strategy regarding the Covid-19 pandemic was to “go hard, and go early”. Her statement matched her actions as a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 23, which was strict even by the international rules.

The lockdown rules were clearly communicated to the people, with the citizens also being reminded of their responsibilities. The Government did send texts to all citizens saying “This is a message for all of New Zealand. We are depending on you.”

As part of the strategy, New Zealand did intensive testing to find and quarantine the patients as early as possible, with a rate of 99,280 tests per million people. In contrast, the rates of testing per million in countries like France, Netherlands, and India stand at 65,548, 63,006, and 17,795 respectively.

The lockdown was officially lifted on 8 June, after 40,000 tests done in the previous 17 days gave 0 positive cases. Notably, New Zealand did not mandate the use of masks as protection against Covid-19.

Finally, the country was also helped by a low population density and a low population. With a population of only 4.8 million, the density of the country stands at 18 people per square kilometre of area.

On Jacinda Ardern’s Reforms
Jacinda Ardern, belonging to the Labour party of New Zealand, became the Prime Minister in 2017. She is the third female PM of the country and is the youngest leader of New Zealand in the last 150 years. In 2008 she was elected as the youngest Member of Parliament. She was also the youngest female leader of the world until 2019, when she was replaced by Sanna Marin who became the PM of Finland at the age of 34. Ardern also worked for more than 2 years in the office of Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister of Britain.

Notable Reforms

  • 2018: Started the Families Package in the country, which provides tax credits to low-income families with children. The package also provided $60 per week to the families having a child born on or after 1 July 2018, with the family receiving the weekly amount until the child turns 1. The scheme also extended parental leave.
  • 2019: After more than 50 people were killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings, Ardern announced stricter gun control laws and banned the sale of most of the semiautomatic weapons in the country.
  • June 2020: Started the provision of free sanitary products to girls in schools.
  • 2020: Praised for her response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As of 9 August, 100 days have passed since a locally transmitted case was detected.

  • Abel Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant. He was the first known European explorer to reach the island of New Zealand. Tasman Glacier, the largest glacier in New Zealand is named after him.
  • Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island. It is the world’s southernmost capital of a sovereign state.
  • The Taiwan Miracle refers to the rapid industrialization and economic growth of Taiwan during the latter half of the twentieth century. As it developed alongside Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong, Taiwan became known as one of the “Four Asian Tigers”.