New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins trod a careful line on his first trip to China last week as leader, winning applause from China.
Hipkins is a man in trouble. He’s facing an election with an economy in recession.
If the saying is right “It’s the economy, stupid”, then New Zealand may have a new government.
His trip to China focused on trade and economic opportunities but avoided contentious issues such as human rights abuses in Xinjiang or security concerns.
Let’s remember this is the Labour party, and he follows the charismatic Jacinda Ardern, lauded for her ability to speak for minorities.
Barely three months out from what looks likely to be a tight election and with the economy already technically in recession, analysts say Hipkins is seeking to step out of the shadow of high-profile former leader Jacinda Ardern and show he is the person to run the country for a further three years.
One angle Hipkins is focusing on is assuring voters that Labour is the party to bring back prosperity – and that means avoiding disputes with the country’s largest trading partner, which could damage New Zealand exports.
“This was a big visit for Hipkins who is cementing his profile as a new prime minister in an election year,” said Robert Ayson, professor of strategic studies at Victoria University.
“Hipkins pulled his punches on anything controversial. We were back, for a moment at least, where New Zealand admits it does not see eye to eye with China on some big matters without actually naming them.”
New Zealand has long been seen as the most conciliatory towards China among the Five Eyes security grouping, which includes Australia, the U.S., Britain and Canada.
But the country’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Ardern in recent meetings with counterparts noted the situation in Xinjiang and the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong, while raising concerns about potential militarisation in the Pacific and tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
The statement after Hipkins’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned none of these issues.
“(Hipkins’s) visit certainly gave China a tick in the international legitimacy box and Beijing has gained at least as much from Hipkins’ visit as New Zealand exporters,” Victoria University’s Ayson said.
New Zealand exporters were prominent in the visit with a delegation of 29 businesses travelling with the prime minister to China.
Business is not a traditional supporter base of the Labour Party, but Hipkins has been focused on winning this sector over since he took office – his first full day in the job in January he spent talking to business leaders in Auckland.
“My sense is that there’s a significant aspect of domestic politics here in an election year, and that Hipkins wants to be seen as a sort of good steward of the China relationship,” said David Capie, Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University.
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Parents buying houses for their adult children
Rise in parents purchasing homes for adult children sparks concerns
A growing trend of parents buying houses for their adult children is causing a stir, raising questions about the potential downsides of such arrangements. While the gesture may seem benevolent, experts warn of the pitfalls associated with this practice.
Financial advisors express concerns about the impact on both generations’ financial independence. By providing ready-made homes, parents might inadvertently hinder their children’s ability to learn crucial financial lessons, such as budgeting, mortgage management, and property ownership responsibilities.
The trend also sparks debates on the long-term implications for the housing market. Critics argue that such parental interventions can distort property prices and exacerbate existing affordability challenges, particularly for younger individuals aspiring to enter the property market independently.
There’s a call for a broader societal discussion on the balance between parental support and fostering financial autonomy. While the intention is often rooted in care, the unintended consequences of sheltering adult children from financial realities are prompting a reassessment of this well-meaning practice.
Victoria’s Secret criticized for trans woman’s apology
Victoria’s Secret is facing backlash after issuing an apology to a transgender woman who had a negative experience while trying on bras at one of their stores.
The incident has ignited a debate about inclusivity and sensitivity in the fashion industry.
The controversy began when the trans woman, who remains anonymous, visited a Victoria’s Secret store to shop for bras. She reported feeling uncomfortable and discriminated against by store staff.
In response to her complaint, Victoria’s Secret issued an apology, acknowledging the incident and expressing their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
However, the apology itself has come under fire from both supporters and critics.
Some argue that the brand’s apology is insincere and merely an attempt to save face, while others believe it is a step in the right direction towards a more inclusive shopping experience for all customers.
The incident raises important questions about how brands should handle situations involving discrimination and whether their apologies are genuine or performative.
It also highlights the ongoing challenges faced by transgender individuals when accessing spaces traditionally designed for cisgender customers.
As the fashion industry continues to evolve, many are calling for a deeper examination of inclusivity and sensitivity, not just in policies but in practice.
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