New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed concern to China over any provision of lethal aid to support Russia in its war against Ukraine during a meeting with her Chinese counterpart.
Her press office on Saturday detailed Mahuta’s cautionary remarks in Beijing, days after Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded his trip to Moscow, a warm affair in which Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin praised each other and spoke of a profound friendship.
Mahuta’s four-day trip, which began Wednesday, was the first made by a New Zealand foreign minister to Beijing since 2018 but it came at an awkward time as Xi visited Moscow the same week to give Putin a diplomatic boost after the International Criminal Court said it wants to put him on trial for alleged war crimes.
On the Ukraine war, Mahuta reiterated her government’s condemnation of Moscow’s “illegal invasion” to her counterpart Qin Gang.
She also told Qin’s predecessor Wang Yi, now the Chinese Communist Party’s most senior foreign policy official, that peace and prosperity are the expectations of all parties, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua. New Zealand supports political settlement of disputes through dialogue, she was quoted saying in the report.
Wang said the pressing task is to achieve a ceasefire and resume peace talks, and that China would continue to play a constructive role to promote a political settlement, the agency added.
During the meeting with Qin, Mahuta also raised concerns over the human rights situation in Xinjiang, the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, disputes in the South China Sea and increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, her press office said.
The ministers discussed the possibility of New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visiting China this year, the office added.
China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner and New Zealand exporters rely on China to buy milk products and other agricultural goods.