[Global Times Special Correspondent Dajo in Australia] Australian Prime Minister Albanese held talks with the new New Zealand Prime Minister Hipkins who is visiting Canberra on the 7th. Both talked about their respective countries’ relations with China at a subsequent joint news conference, which Reuters said was the latest sign of strengthening ties with China, its largest trading partner.
This is Hipkins’ first overseas visit after succeeding Ardern as Prime Minister in January this year. The talks between the leaders of Australia and New Zealand included the impact of the deterioration of the global economy on their respective countries, climate change, security and Pacific cooperation. Albanese said at a joint press conference after the talks that “2023 is a milestone in the trans-Tasman relationship (that is, Australia-New Zealand relationship)” and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Australia-New Zealand “Closer Economic and Trade Relationship Agreement”. In response, Hipkins responded that “New Zealand has no closer partner than Australia”, and New Zealand and Australia are “not only friends, but also family.”
At the same time, as the largest trading partner of Australia and New Zealand, China was an unavoidable topic at the press conference. According to a Reuters report on the 7th, Albanese said that the video meeting between Australian Minister of Trade and Tourism Farrell and Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao last week was “fruitful”. He also reiterated the tone of Australia’s relationship with China, “We will do our best to cooperate with China, stick to our position when we disagree,” and “maintain engagement with China based on Australia’s national interests.” Albanese emphasized that Australia’s trade with China exceeds the sum of the next three largest trading partners, and “establishing a good economic and trade relationship with China is in Australia’s national interest.” Hipkins reiterated that “China is a very important partner of New Zealand, not only a very important trading partner, but also a partner in other fields”, and also admitted that “this does not mean that there will be no differences between New Zealand and China”.
At the same time, there have been new developments recently in the “Ocus Agreement” among Australia, Britain, and the United States. Reuters reported that Albanese said at the press conference that Australian Defense Minister Mars recently visited the United States, and more details on Australia’s purchase of British and American nuclear-powered submarines will be announced soon. “I have full confidence in the progress of the ‘Ocus Agreement’, which is a positive move,” Albanese said. The “Australian” reported on the 7th that more and more people speculate that Australia may eventually choose the next-generation British submarine equipped with American combat systems and weapons as its future nuclear-powered submarine instead of American submarines. Mars said in the United States on the 6th that Australia is “not far” from announcing the preferred procurement plan for nuclear submarines, which will be a “true tripartite cooperation” between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Speaking of “Ocus”, Hipkins once again emphasized New Zealand’s “non-nuclear” stance, “Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom are New Zealand’s important security partners. But our non-nuclear policy has not changed”, “New Zealand’s current government’s Foreign policy is the same as it was under former Prime Minister Ardern.”