NZ PM urges democratic nations to stand firm as China becomes ‘more assertive’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has urged the democratic nations to stand firm as China becomes “more assertive” and “willing to challenge international rules and norms”, in New Zealand’s first-ever formal address to Nato, the media reported.

New Zealand has toughened its tone recently on security and Beijing’s growing presence in the South Pacific, in part due to the signing of a security pact between China and Solomon Islands, The Guardian reported.

At a summit where Nato for the first time identified Beijing as a serious challenge, Ardern dedicated part of her speech to warning of China’s increasingly muscular international presence — while calling for dialogue and diplomacy rather than increased militarisation in response, The Guardian reported.

“China has in recent times also become more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms,” she said.

“Here, we must respond to the actions we see. We must stand firm on the rules-based order, call for diplomatic engagement and speak out against human rights abuses at all times when and where we see them. But we also must resist the temptation to simplify the increasingly complex world in which we live.”

Much of the New Zealand prime minister’s speech was dedicated to calls for diplomacy, multilateralism, and commitment to dialogue, even as the US and other western partners have increasingly hardened their positions on Russia and China.

“New Zealand is not here to expand our military alliances. We are here to contribute to a world that lessens the need for anyone to call on them,” she said.

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