Both countries were focused on Communist China, which under Xi Jinping is becoming a threat to peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
New Zealand and Australia yesterday expressed grave concerns over developments in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in the Xinjiang region of Communist China, as the two nations sought to get in lockstep over their biggest trading partner.
In the first face-to-face meeting between heads of both countries in more than 15 months, Wellington and Canberra presented a united on Beijing.
Talks were focused among other things on China, with Canberra at loggerheads with Beijing, while Wellington has strengthened economic ties with China, with the two countries this year upgrading their free-trade agreement.
New Zealand’s approach to China has led to suggestions by political commentators and the media that Wellington might not be taking a strong enough stance on China’s human rights’ issues.
Ms. Ardern rejected this, saying New Zealand and Australia had similar positions on issues such as trade and human rights.
You’ll see Australia and New Zealand have broadly been positioned in exactly the same place on these issues consistently, so I really push back on any suggestion that we are not taking a strong stance on these incredibly important issues, she said in a joint press conference.
Mr. Morrison backed Ms. Ardern, saying Australia and New Zealand were trading nations, but neither would ever trade its sovereignty.
I think as great partners, friends, allies and indeed family, there will be those far from here who would seek to divide us and they will not succeed, he said.
In a joint statement both prime ministers expressed grave concerns over developments in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in Xinjiang, and called on Beijing to respect the human rights of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, and to grant the UN and other independent observers unfettered access to the region.