China and Covid-19 on minds as Australian, New Zealand leaders meet

China and Covid-19 on minds as Australian, New Zealand leaders meet

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, in February 2020. The pair are to meet again on Sunday. Photo: EPA

Meeting between Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern will be an opportunity to dispel perceptions of a growing gap between the countries’ China policies, experts say. Differences were highlighted recently when Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said New Zealand was uncomfortable about using the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance as a platform to criticise Beijing.

The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand will meet face-to-face for the first time in 15 months on Sunday, amid signs of division between the neighbours on how to manage relations with China.

Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern will meet in Queenstown for discussions that are expected to touch on their differing approaches to China as Western countries including the United States ramp up coordination to pressure Beijing on human rights and security concerns.

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