New Zealand government calls for greater US military presence in the Pacific


New Zealand government calls for greater US military presence in the Pacific

Tom Peters

24 December 2018

During a recent visit to Washington, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters signalled a further escalation in the Labour Party-led coalition government’s alignment with the Trump administration’s economic war and military preparations against China.

Peters is also Foreign Minister and leader of the NZ First Party, a right-wing nationalist, anti-Asian party. Despite receiving just over 7 percent of the votes in the 2017 election, NZ First was given several ministerial roles by Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and plays a major role in determining the government’s foreign and military policy.

Peters met with senior members of the Trump administration, including Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Peters also delivered a major speech at Georgetown University on December 15, calling for a stronger US-New Zealand alliance in the Pacific. He declared that the South West Pacific was “becoming more contested and its security… ever more fragile.” He called on the US “to engage more” in the region, adding, “we think it is in your vital interests to do so, and time is of the essence.”

Clearly referring to China, Peters noted that “larger players are renewing their interest in the Pacific with an attendant element of strategic competition. The speed and intensity of those interests at play are of great concern to us.” He also pointed to the supposed “threat” posed by North Korea and by “militarised” islands in the South China Sea, which “challenge international law and norms.”

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