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Ardern says China differences ‘becoming harder to ignore’; promises to work harder on ignoring them

Ardern has been crystal clear that New Zealand “must step up” its efforts if it is to successfully dodge questions about genocide in China.

Ardern has been crystal clear that New Zealand “must step up” its efforts if it is to successfully dodge questions about genocide in China.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the Auckland Business Chamber on Monday that differences between New Zealand and China on human rights were “becoming more difficult” to reconcile or ignore, and today she acknowledged that this would mean her government will have to “step up” in “all areas” in order to continue ignoring them.

Ardern said she had spoken today with Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta about “various ways in which we might redouble our efforts to take a more relaxed approach to China’s activities in places like Xinjiang and Hong Kong.”

“Oh, look, I never said that this was going to be easy,” Ardern told media outside Parliament this afternoon. “And indeed, as we have seen more and more reports come out of Xinjiang, we’ve seen more and more things that we are definitely concerned by, and at times, they are hard to reconcile with our existing relationship with China. They are not easy to ignore.”

“But hard doesn’t mean impossible,” she added. “We just have to work harder, and I’m committed to that, and I know Minister Mahuta is committed to that as well.”

Ardern said the Foreign Ministry would be exploring what the “best approach” was to training New Zealand ministers and diplomats to ignore the more unsavoury things being done by our largest trading partner.

“For example, a question we might be asking is, is it best to desensitize them to the human rights abuses in China by having them watch videos of, for example, protestors being beaten in Hong Kong, or maybe Muslims being rounded up in north western China, and then engage in activities such as cracking jokes about what’s in the video, or identifying ways in which it might not be as bad as it looks?

“Or is a different approach necessary? Maybe we just ignore those things altogether, and try to think about more positive stuff we get from China, like cheap and comfy socks, or a new phone?”

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said those were exactly the questions her ministry was asking itself “right now.”

“So obviously, as you know, this is something we have to grapple with, that a lot of countries are having to grapple with, which is how can we plausibly do nothing about these issues?” she said. “I can tell you already that we’re having meetings with our most senior diplomats, where we’re bringing in the latest in quality imported textiles and Chinese-made smartphone technology, and we’re playing with those phones, and seeing all the neat things the apps can do, and talking about really all the cool stuff that we have here, which we really like.”

Mahuta said those exercises were really helping give diplomats a read on what level of a shit to give in their day to day operations.

Minister for Trade and Export Growth and slowly eroding statue Damien O’Connor said he didn’t believe it would be “a terribly large challenge” for New Zealand to justify its relationship with China, as kiwis “really love their threads and yarns.”

“I don’t personally get into textiles, or boilers, or that sort of thing,” said O’Connor. “But I do know a lot of kiwis I talk to are really into them, and while I’ll let the Prime Minister speak more broadly for us on this issue, I don’t think, at the end of the day, it’s that complicated. We obviously care about Tiananmen Square and the Nanjing Massacre and all that, but you know, have you seen how expensive kids toys are as it is?

“They’re hundreds of dollars, and they’re not anything, they’re just a hunk of shit, really, excuse my language. Can you imagine how expensive they’d be if we had to make them here?”

Parliament yesterday voted unanimously to denounce human rights abuses in China, though Labour MPs were successful in watering down the wording from a declaration of “genocide” to a declaration of “potential for alarm.”