New Zealand foreign minister: “Great Power competition is back”
17 July 2018
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters has reaffirmed the Labour-led coalition government’s intention to strengthen the country’s neo-colonial position in the Pacific while supporting its imperialist “partners” in their drive to militarily confront China.
Peters, leader of the right-wing populist NZ First Party and Acting Prime Minister, delivered a keynote address to the University of Otago’s annual Foreign Policy School on June 29.
The speech built on one given to the Sydney-based Lowy institute in March, where he announced his government’s “Pacific reset.” The policy is aimed at boosting New Zealand’s presence in the Asia-Pacific’s “contested strategic space,” in alliance with the US, Australia and European powers.
The “reset” has been initiated with a multi-million dollar upgrade in foreign aid to the region. Peters used the Otago conference to announce a new Strategic International Development Fund, earmarked for projects with a life of 50 years and involving “partnerships” with Europe, Japan or Australia. The first is a 300-hectare land reclamation project for housing in the tiny island state of Kiribati to counter the effects of climate change and rising sea water levels.
Peters quoted former US President Roosevelt’s statement that “the Pacific Islands appear as small dots on the map or not at all. But they cover a large strategic area.” Given the “increasing competition for influence and resources,” Peters declared, “this is as true today as it was in the 1940s”—that is, during World War II.
Peters decried “New Zealand’s decreasing influence in the Pacific.” He claimed the Pacific Reset is “not about…