With the announcement recently that Australia will procure 8 nuclear-powered submarines and forming a new trilateral security group with the UK, and US called AUKUS. How has AUKUS changed the playing field in the geopolitical arena?
New Zealand was left out of the discussions and people pointing out that it is we are friends not Allies with the US, and we can no longer be trusted with security matters. New Zealand’s woeful attempts appeasing allies. Our sea blindness politicians, and our cosying up to the CCP due to trade. And that last one is important.
New Zealand can not afford to go into a trade war with China, and because of 30 years of bad decisions from our anti-nuclear stance (which is outdated and was stupid by the way) to the bare minimal defence policies and the continuous defence budget cutbacks, to the broken deals for F-16’s and ANZAC frigates and only acquiring 2 not four. To the continuous delays in replacing the ageing P3k2's and C-130H (which have only just been ordered and to be replaced in the next few years) should have been replaced 10 to 15 years ago.
When the United Kingdom joined the European Union it nearly broke New Zealand as we relied heavily on that trade and it was gone overnight. We scrambled to find other trade partners and yes Australia stepped up, did we try to get an FTA with say the US, yes, and the answer was no... we have continued to try and get a FTA with the US but because of the above that was a no go and still is to this day.
New Zealand had to diversify its trading partners and started trading with China and in 2008 was the first country in the world to get a Free Trade Agreement with China and all had been good until China started stretching her arms and legs.
The South China Sea and the 9 dash line, the Spratly Islands, and the man-made islands are now armed military bases that are in disputed waters. The world disagrees with China on their claim but did nothing. The debacle of Hong Kong and broken promises the world disagrees with China but did nothing. The treatment of Uyghur people and other human rights issues, the disputes with India and the territory. The fishing fleets that are sent out are usually protected by the Chinese coast guard and sometimes the PLAN that go into other countries EEZ territorial waters and strip fish the area. The wolf political tactic’s China is using with smaller pacific nations and their unaffordable loans, an example of this is the deep water harbour in Bougainville and when they can’t repay it, all of a sudden China says we will operate the harbour for the next 99 years and then the next thing there is a Chinese naval base in Australia’s backyard and essentially ours... The quick build-up of and military expansion in such a short period of time and they are still expanding... All of the above world disagrees with China but has done nothing because China is a trading power house.
- China on the move...
- Why is China on the move in the South Pacific?
- Taiwan: 'Record number' of China jets enter airspace
- The failure of US counterinsurgency and the rise of the Indo Pacific
The Issue with Taiwan and the constant incursions into their air space and the list goes on. All that above is not even covering when Australia asking for more info into the current pandemic and a trade war started with them. Say anything bad about the CCP and they will start a trade war and break agreements. The CCP has done it to many other countries, not just Australia, ie; Norway once felt China's wrath – what can Australia learn from them? This has added to the spur of Australia building its defence capability. Who can blame them. But we keep trading more and more and now China trade is nearly a third of our GDP. We rely far too much on China for trade, far too much. We haven't learnt that that could all disappear overnight like when the UK joined the EU.
We are small a population of barely 5 million people with a small GDP of barely 212 billion USD (2020) which compared to our partners GDP is a drop in the ocean. Even compared to nations with similar populations Finland $269b Singapore $372b. We now rely on trade with China as much as we did with the UK pre-EU days. History repeats. Same story different characters.
New Zealand has been treading a very fine line to appease our trading partner China while also appeasing our friends and ally. I say “Ally”, not “Allies” as officially New Zealand only has one ally and that is Australia.
Now over time, the money from trading with China seems to have become more important than backing our "ally" and friends over the other issues with China and the CCP this is just what people are starting to see and it only now, are we starting to publicly say and many say is causing a divide, which this is what CCP wants and is playing into their hands.
I also now want to clarify that the CCP is only a political party that is in power and controls the country, but there isn’t really any way a democratic party can run for and or win to overthrow the CCP. I have nothing against the Chinese people themself as a whole, but I have everything against the CCP.
- Why Aukus should make us reconsider parts of our nuclear-free stance
- Aukus: What does the Australian nuclear submarine deal mean for non-proliferation?
- AUKUS: New Zealand labelled 'a joke' after nuclear-free stance blocks Australia's nuclear-powered submarines
- Chance of war between China and West 'low' but still a risks of 'incidents' - former New Zealand Defence Minister
Australia has stepped up its game to become a regional power and a leading one at that, one can understand why when the South China Sea and all this is happening in their backyard. Because it is not in our backyard we don’t see the danger or the threat it directly or indirectly imposes on us. However if Australia is attacked as an ally we must help and if Australia is attacked New Zealand can declare war on whoever without it going through parliament, it is one of the three times it can, (the other two involve a direct attack on New Zealand or in the Realm of New Zealand etc)
When will New Zealand stand up and have the balls to say no more?
Let's face it China is on the move and her belligerent behaviour and not abiding by that rules-based order is starting to piss people and countries off, not just Australia but obviously the US but also many countries in the EU. Their human rights issues and other issues are starting to be noticed and not tolerated by the international community and yet New Zealand has softly said "that is not good please stop it."
So how has AUKUS changed the playing field in the geopolitical arena? A lot, there is a fundamental shift in how the game is being played. The chess pieces are slowly changing positions
When will New Zealand stand up and have the balls to say no more? Probably never as it will cripple us as we have no backup.
The US won’t give us a free trade deal because of the past 30 years of snubbing them, anti-nuclear, saying no the F-16, not really supporting them in Iraq in operation freedom, the minimal support we gave in Afghanistan (and while I 100% support our NZDF personal I wish the NZG did more in Afghanistan especially with the Evacuation.)
Australia no longer puts New Zealand in their calculations with regards to Defence. Think of it this way... When the A4 Skyhawks were based in Australia, and the overall number of A4 Skyhawks that was 20% of the ANZAC airpower... that is no longer there and now Australia now does this alone.
We have no offensive capability. Even our naval combatants
When New Zealand did not get the third and fourth ANZAC Frigate that is about 10% of the naval combatants in the region missing from the calculations. When we will go from 6 upgraded P-3K2 Orion aircraft to only 4 P-8’s that is down 5% of the maritime patrol aircraft in the region. HMNZS Aotearoa is one-third of the support fleet in the region. To be fair it surprised me when Australia didn’t get a third tanker just in case. The only thing in the airforce that increased capability is transport capability. from 5 C-130H to 5 C-130J-30 Super Hercules and that is only because the J's can carry a little bit more of a payload... so it is not worth mentioning... (the irony of me mentioning it)
The NZ Army no longer brings anything staggering to the table either a there is no main battle tanks or anti-air defence. We are stuck with the 105 howitzers and should have some 155's that is limited in range and punch. We have no main battle tanks to offer, only lightly armed APC's with no punch. We have no anti-air capability to defend said region if required, although it is stated that the Mistral short-range missile is in storage. But are not anything to write home about.
- Why do I think the Endurance 170 LHD is a good choice for the RNZN.
- Future Royal New Zealand Navy
- Options for SOPV for the RNZN
- Options for the NZDF and RNZN 2nd enhanced Sealift vessel
We have no offensive capability. Even our naval combatants, it’s all about defending the ship and not going on the offensive there are no long-range anti-ship missile capabilities only short-range anti-air. They are supposed to be general-purpose frigates, but they are more ASW or Anti Submarine Warfare frigates and even then they are limited. HMNZS Canterbury while useful in HADR situations is useless anywhere else as in contested waters to landing troops ashore. People (including me) have been saying this for years now and this is including after the frigate upgrade program. One of the major things that needs to be bought and installed and tested regularly is a ship launched anti ship missiles system. I am not talking Harpoon as they coming to the end of their life and old technology, however, they are better than nothing. I would prefer the Naval Strike missile.
So you can see why our only ally is starting to get upset and leaving us out of the picture. It is not just our allys’ but partners in the region noticing as well, Singapore and Malaysia part of the Five Powers Defence Agreement. New Zealand simply no longer brings anything useful to the table and is looked at as more of a hindrance.
New Zealand must decide now, and step up to the plate and up our game in defence, yes some of it will hurt us in the pocket but in the long run we will regain that trust that has been lost over the last 35 years of bad decisions and drive woke ideals (and that is both parties) and by regaining that trust maybe just maybe we might get a better deal with the US so we can diversify our trade. Maybe just maybe the idea of CANZUK needs to be pushed a bit more. The 20 billion dollars over 15 years needs to be continued, increased and stay on target with future governments.
Our current defence minister is MIA and not a lot has been said and while the current government remains committed to the DCP 2019 they have stated it may change and things pushed out... which under the current circumstances is a bad idea a very bad idea.
My overall guess is that many of the surrounding countries, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam and more, many of whom have issues with China and the South China Sea and their belligerent behaviour are quietly saying about time.
A final note part of a post made by a member on the Defencetalk forum. Which I agree with. Looking at our own Defence force and the A4 Skyhawk debacle;
Recommendations of the Final Report of the Air Combat Capability Study—October 1998 - Sir Wilson Whineray
This study recommends that the Secretary of Defence:
The Quigley Report 2000
Review Of The Lease Of F-16 Aircraft For The Royal New Zealand Air Force by the Hon. Derek Quigley
Summary and Conclusions:
The above pretty much is more relevant, more urgent today in 2021 than 21 years ago.