General H.R. McMaster says the real choice for New Zealand is between “sovereignty and servitude”.

New Zealand risks giving China coercive power over its economy, according to an American general and former US national security advisor.
Xi Jinping and Jacinda Ardern.
Source: 1 NEWS
By Guyon Espiner of
General H.R. McMaster, who served as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, said New Zealanders often talked about not wanting to be caught in the middle of a scrap between America and China. The real choice for New Zealand, however, was between “sovereignty and servitude”, he said.
He made the comments in new podcast series Red Line, made by RNZ and Bird of Paradise Productions, which examines the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in New Zealand.
McMaster served in Iraq and Afghanistan before working for Trump.
He warned New Zealand was at risk because it had placed too much economic reliance on China, now our largest trading partner.
“I don’t think it’s in any country’s interests to give the CCP coercive power over your economy: object lesson is Australia right now.”
Australia has taken a strong public stance against China’s political influence campaigns and human rights record on issues such as the treatment of Muslim Uighyurs in Xijiang.
As a result it has faced a backlash on its exports.
New Zealand is under pressure from its Five Eyes partners, such as Australia and the US, to stand up to China, but the government here has been trying to walk a middle line.
Former US National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster.
Source: Getty
McMaster said New Zealand had to choose – but the choice was not the one some might imagine.
“To those who say, ‘Hey we’re getting caught in the middle of this competition between the United States and China’ – this is not a competition between the United States and China. The choice isn’t between Washington and Beijing. The choice is between sovereignty and servitude.”
In the Red Line podcast, former New Zealand Prime Minister John Key emerges as one of the leading advocates of a pro-China view – which is a rarity in a Western World now highly critical of China.
“If you look at what they’re trying to achieve you sort of sit back and go, gosh this is incredible – they are literally going to build a platform from China through to Europe.”
That platform, which China calls Belt and Road, is a series of massive infrastructure projects around the globe, including ports, highways, telco projects and power stations.
So far more than 130 countries have engaged with Belt and Road on some level, including New Zealand.
But McMaster said there was a catch.
“China has used this One Belt One Road as part of a really pernicious effort to extend its geostrategic influence. These are not primarily economic development projects,” he said.
“This is meant to create a dependency so that China can exert its influence in a geostrategic area. And for what purpose? Again to create an exclusionary area of primacy.”
But while America warned New Zealand not to be too economically reliant on China, Key pointed out that the US was still refusing to sign a Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand – something China did 15 years ago.
In the podcast, Key relates a conversation he had with former US President Barack Obama, who teased him about how close he was to China, noting the many senior CCP members had been invited to New Zealand.
“I said, ‘You’re welcome to New Zealand any time you like.’ I said, ‘At the moment we have a Free Trade Agreement with all parts of one-China but right at the moment we don’t have one with the United States and you are meant to be pretty much our best friend’.”
McMaster admitted the US could be a better friend to New Zealand on trade.
“We could change it and I think we ought to make this a top priority – a trade agreement with New Zealand,” he said. “This will be a matter for the new administration to take up, the Biden administration, and I hope they put it at the forefront.”