A week ago New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and her Australian counterpart Marise Payne issued a joint statement citing “clear evidence of severe human rights abuses” in Xinjiang. The two Foreign Ministers also lent their support to the efforts of leading western partners: “New Zealand and Australia welcome the measures announced overnight by Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States”, their statement continued.
But it did not take long for the penny to drop that there were limits to this solidarity. Wellington and Canberra were not joining in on travel bans and asset freezes on specified officials and on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau. “Australia and New Zealand welcome sanctions over Uighur abuses,” one headline read, “but impose none of their own.”