China’s assertiveness takes Australia and New Zealand talks to a new level

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has returned from a a two-day visit to New Zealand following the annual leaders’ meeting with his Kiwi counterpart Jacinda Ardern.

The meeting, held in Queenstown, was dominated by discussions about the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has had on the Indo-Pacific region and the tourism sector that has been ravaged by travel restrictions, as well as China’s growing influence and economic coercion.

Recent comments made by ministers in Ardern’s government have left Australian officials feeling New Zealand is out of step when it comes to diplomacy with Beijing and the kiwis have shied away using the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance to pressure China.

But as tensions grow over everything from trade to human rights abuses, Ardern reaffirmed the relationship, describing Australia as “family”, and said it was an “important time for us to just continue to build and strengthen those ties”.

National affairs editor Rob Harris travelled to New Zealand for the leadership talks and today he joins Nathanael Cooper on Please Explain to discuss what happened.

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The total reported Australian cases of thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is now 24, with 21 confirmed and three considered probable. About 2.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered so far.

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