New Zealand PM calls on China to help end war in Ukraine

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Aug. 1 (UPI) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday urged China to state it is against Russia’s war in Ukraine and to aide in ending the conflict.

Ardern made the comment during a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland, stating both Wellington and Beijing have benefited from adherence to the international rules-based order and that they have much to lose if that system begins to falter.

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“When large countries disregard sovereignty and territorial integrity with a sense of impunity, it does not bode well particularly for small countries like New Zealand,” she said.

“And that’s why as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and in line with its commitment to the U.N. Charter, we continue to urge China to be clear that it does not support the Russian invasion, and have called on China to use its access and influence to help bring an end to the conflict.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the war as a so-called special military operation on Feb. 24 with the mission to “denazify” Ukraine. But in the months since, he appears to be attempting to annex the eastern Donbas region, which has been largely held by pro-Russian separatists.

The effects of the war have reverberated around the world, and has deepened a global food crisis as it has driven up the costs of food, fuel and fertilizer, putting millions of people at risk of starvation, the World Food program said.

The war also comes amid rising tensions between democratic nations and China as Beijing asserts its influence around the globe.

During her speech Monday, Ardern said the war is even being felt in the Indo-Pacific region where New Zealand is located, and as such it has a fundamental interest to its peace and security.

She said that New Zealand’s position remains one that calls for the adherence to international rules and norms, diplomacy, de-escalation and dialogue in place of threats, force and coercion.

Ardern continued that though China becomes more assertive in its pursuit of its interests, there are still areas where the two nations could and should work together.

“We are willing to engage — consistently, predictably and respectfully,” she said.

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China has yet to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, and since the invasion was launched the two countries have taken steps to forge closer relations.

Weeks after the war began, Washington raised concerns with Beijing about its relationship with Moscow. The next month, China and Russia vowed to deepen cooperation, according to a statement from China’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in mid-June similarly told Putin that they support Russia’s “sovereignty and security” interests while also chastising democratic nations, including the United States and the European Union, for imposing punitive measures against the Kremlin over its war in Ukraine.

Ardern said that while the differences between New Zealand and China should not define them, Wellington will not ignore Beijing’s alleged abuses, including economic coercion and human rights abuses in Xinjiang province and Hong Kong.

“Managing the differences in our relationship is not always going to be easy and there are no guarantees. But as a government we continue to work hard — through dialogue and diplomacy,” she said.

“But we will also advocate for approaches and outcomes that reflect New Zealand’s interests and values, and speak out on issues that do not.”

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As of late last month, nearly 5,240 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and another 7,000 injured due to the fighting, according to statistics from the United Nations.

A local woman walks down a dirt road on Monday as life tries to return to normal after Russian shelling hit the small town of Biskvitne, Ukraine, east of Kharkiv. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo