Chinese And New Zealand Defence Forces In Military Pact

New Zealand and China have strengthened their relationship beyond the boundaries of free trade agreements and are now working together on defence issues, further strengthening ties between them.

Just how the arrangement will sit with Australia’s nearest neighbours is unclear but this arrangement with China does seem to get little or no coverage within New Zealand, which is hardly surprising given the degree of anti-Asian sentiment that dogs the country and the degree of resistance to Chinese investors buying strategic NZ businesses (especially those who are a potential threat to Fonterra) : New Zealand isn’t exactly broadcasting the arrangement loud and proud to its own citizens.

Recent talks between the two countries were conducted in an “open and candid” matter, but don’t seem to have been reported on by the NZ press.

New Zealand  has been described as having an air force that is a military version of a no-frills airline, an army that is a  peace-keeping force and a navy that’s a coastguard. The country’s lack of a true defence force has long been seen as a joke by some outside of the country. (see video 100% there for the taking)

It’s difficult to see what China gains from the arrangement, other than a more favourable slice of the mineral resources pie when the Crown Estate land gets dished up.

There is an estimated $140 billion of minerals including gold, copper, iron and molybdenum beneath NZ’s conservation estate. Plus another $100 Billion worth of lignite in the Southland lignite field. (source)

China having military dialogue with other countries is not unusual – e.g. the USA is all for it.

In September Admiral Timothy J Keating, Commander US Pacific Command, visited New Zealand and said that he didn’t think of China as a threat:

“We’re working hard to make sure that China doesn’t become a threat, they’re not a threat to us today and we don’t want them to become a threat and I don’t think China wants to threaten anyone either.”

“We want to have them participate in bilateral and multilateral exercises, and we want to send personnel to their military schools. We have resumed military to military dialogue with the People’s Liberation Army officials, the first time since October 2008 we have been able to engage in official military to military dialogue with China.”

So is New Zealand doing this off their own bat, or at the instigation of the  the USA?

Of course the arrangement has been lauded in China with one site telling its readers:

1 June 2010

China and New Zealand held the third strategic consultation between their armed forces in Beijing Tuesday, and pledged to advance military cooperation.

Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and Vice Chief of the New Zealand Defense Force Jack Steer presided over the talks.

The two countries’ defense and military relationship had developed soundly and matured gradually, Ma said.

China was satisfied with relations between the two armed forces.

China was ready to work with New Zealand to expand military cooperation and safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Ma said.

The Defense Force of New Zealand hoped to enhance military cooperation with the PLA in fields such as personnel exchanges and training, and reinforce their communication and coordination within the multilateral security mechanism in the Asia-Pacific region, Steer said.

The strategic consultation served as an important part of bilateral military ties, Steer said.

The consultation itself demonstrated the friendship between the two armed forces, he said.

They also held in-depth talks on international and regional security situations.

They agreed the consultation was positive and fruitful, as it helped to expand bilateral consensus and understanding.

The first consultation was held in China three years ago, and the second was held in New Zealand last year.

2 June 2010

Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie Wednesday hailed the just concluded third China-New Zealand strategic consultation between their armed forces.

The talks were conducive to deepening mutual trust and promoting cooperation between the two armed forces, Liang said in a meeting with Vice Chief of the New Zealand Defense Force Jack Steer.

The talks, which took place Tuesday, were co-chaired by Steer and Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

The two armed forces enjoyed sound cooperation in peacekeeping, personnel training and academic exchanges, and China stood ready to work with New Zealand to further military ties, he said.

Liang, also a State Councilor, said China was willing to continue strategic and policy dialogue with New Zealand in an open and candid manner.

Steer acknowledged the role of the talks in advancing bilateral military ties, saying the relations had broad prospects for development.

The first consultation was held in China three years ago, and the second was held in New Zealand last year.

China and New Zealand signed a free trade agreement in April 2008. Bilateral trade volume reached almost 10 billion NZ dollars (6.9 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009.

Back in March”

One thing’s for sure – you won’t be hearing much about this through the NZ press and we can all guess why. However, you do have to wonder why there is such a widespread and blnket silence on this issue, bringing in to question who really calls the shots in NZ.