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TICKER VIEWS – Is New Zealand really cosying up to China?

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The diplomatic rift between Australia and China continues to worsen, exacerbated by Scott Morrison’s government tearing up controversial infrastructure agreements.

Canberra is bracing for retaliation from Beijing, after it torpedoed Belt and Road Initiative agreements China signed with the Australian state of Victoria.

Australia hasn’t hesitated to stand up to an increasingly assertive and powerful China. It led calls for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, much to China’s fury.

Beijing has even shared a 14-point list of grievances that it has against Australia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shake hands before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, April 1, 2019. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool Photo via AP)


TREADING CAREFULLY

New Zealand’s relationship with China has also been under the spotlight, but for completely different reasons.

New Zealand has been accused of turning its back on its “Five Eyes” allies, amid claims Jacinda Ardern’s government is soft on China.

There’s no question that Australia and New Zealand have fundamentally different approaches to handling the increasing assertiveness of China.

But is New Zealand moving closer to China?

Robert Ayson is a Professor of Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He says that while New Zealand doesn’t have a “hardline, zero sum approach to [its] relationship” with Beijing, it “… has taken a strong view on China compared to where it was 7-8 years ago.”

“New Zealand wants to maintain good relations with traditional partners, particularly in the Five Eyes context,” he told Ticker News.

“New Zealand also wants to keep room for a productive relationship with Beijing. New Zealand is unlikely to go down the path that Australia has…”

Australia’s actions have seen it become a victim of China’s economic coercion. New Zealand is seeking to tread carefully, mindful of its economic reliance on China.

FUTURE OF FIVE-EYES

New Zealand has on multiple occasions spoken out against China, including over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

But the island nation has also been conspicuously absent from some joint statements from its Five-Eyes allies, as it is wanting to chart its own course when it comes to its dealings with China.

The 70-year-old intelligence grouping is made up of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and United Kingdom.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister this week revealed that New Zealand was “uncomfortable” with expanding the remit of the alliance.

Nanaia Mahuta believes the focus of the group needs to remain on intelligence, not on pressuring or criticising China.

Robert Ayson says the “comments did catch out a few people”, given they were made “in a public forum”.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marine Payne travelled across the Tasman this week, taking advantage of the new travel bubble, for a face-to-face meeting with her Kiwi counterpart.Marise Payne was asked by a journalist if she would like to see the Ardern government take a tougher line on Beijing.

“One thing I have learnt in my role in this job as Australia’s Foreign Minister is not to give advice to other countries,” she responded.

It’s advice that New Zealand’s Trade Minister would have done well to heed in an interview earlier this year.

Appearing on CNBC, Damien O’Connor urged Australia to follow New Zealand and “show respect” and “a little more diplomacy” to China.

The comments went down like a lead balloon in Canberra, as the Minister was left to mop up a diplomatic mess of his own making.

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“Woman. Life. Freedom,” Iran protests now on the world’s stadium

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Protests are engulfing Iran as a revolution against oppression spills onto the global stage, with the world unable to turn a blind eye

In Iran, protests are engulfing the country as thousands take to the streets in a revolution against oppression. 

Women are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, demanding some form of change to the strict rules that impact their ultimate freedom.

“Woman. Life. Freedom”

DONNA MILES, WRITEr, & COLUMNIST

From the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the nation’s residents have witnessed their fair share of turmoil.

Many insist that religion, like Islam, is being used as a reason to violate basic human rights in Iran.

Women in the country and around the world, are now lifting the veil on Iran’s corruption.

“What is happening in Iran fills me with both fear and hope… Hope that there might be some meaningful change.”

Donna miles, writer, & Columnist

Pure desperation

For nearly forty years, women in Iran have faced a life of control and oppression. Subject to the strict Islamic Republic rules, bound by religion.

There have been protests in Iran before, but nothing like what we see today.

Women and men are filling the streets of the entire country, in a show of solidarity against the regime, putting their lives on the line.

Footage of Iranian women burning the hijabs and cutting their hair has encapsulated social media.

“People are risking their lives… The regime is very brutal. It significant that this time round that there is international focus and attention on Iran.

One thing is clear…The revolution is taking place, at least in people’s hearts and minds.”

Donna miles, writer, & Columnist

Spilling onto the global stage

The uprising against the regime in Iran and its treatment of women is openly and loudly spilling onto the global stage.

Its voice is so powerful it is even flooding into the sporting arena. In Qatar, Iranian soccer players refused to sing their national anthem before their World Cup game.

Credit: Al Jazeera

While the move from the sporting stars was seen by a global audience, a cloud of fear now looms over the safety and wellbeing of the players returning to their homeland.

“The players have been extremely brave. This is a significant issue for them. Enough to take a political stand to refuse to sing the national anthem.”

DONNA MILES, WRITEr, & COLUMNIST

As history shows us, sport has often been used as an avenue to express a political stance.

At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, U.S. athlete Tommie Smith raised his black-gloved fist, in defiance of racial segregation.

This is perhaps one of the most iconic moments, illustrating the blurred line between politics and sport.

Credit: The New York Times

UN finally calls out Iran

During the Iran protests, footage of authorities using brutal force against protestors sparked global attention and outrage.

Now, the United Nation has called out Iran’s actions.

At its 35th special session, the UN Human Rights Council launched a new investigation. It will independently investigate alleged human rights violations during the protests.

“It will be independently investigated.”

DONNA MILES, WRITEr, & COLUMNIST

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Is Musk flushing Twitter down the drain?

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Elon Musk

Elon Musk has made plenty of changes to Twitter, but will it make or break the social media platform?

When Elon Musk walked into Twitter with a sink you knew things were about to get interesting. 

It’s been a chaotic few weeks of change for the social media platform. Musk quickly showed thousands of employees the door.

Noticeably, he also upended the iconic ‘blue tick’ hierarchy. 

The new boss is adamant in making the platform a place of free speech, often using public Twitter polls to dictate his next move.

It’s not very often you have a billionaire and CEO of a tech giant communicate with people everyday via a tweet thread.

“As far as communicating with people, that is something we haven’t seen. You don’t see Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates out there communicating like this or any other billionaire.”

greg nibler, tech expert

While people have been quick to judge Musk’s changes, he remains one of the most successful businessmen in history.

He lead the charge on flying to space with his SpaceX empire and was ahead of the game in the electric vehicle market.

Perhaps, the changes to the platform are a smart move for the company to succeed, despite the abruptness of them.

Proof is in the pudding because the numbers show Twitter has added 1.6 million daily users this week alone, which is an all-time high.

“It is a reality show on Twitter and people want to see it…
Is that going to turn into profitability, I don’t know.”

Greg nibler, tech expert

Plus World Cup traffic hit almost 20,000 tweets per second today, breaking another record. 

It’s likely Twitter may be more successful in private hands. Financially though, the company has declined, causing widespread concern about its economic stability.

Musk wants to vastly increase the revenue the company makes through subscriptions, but a question mark looms over its ability to triumph.

“The way in which Twitter has lost so much money in value so quickly must also be a concern to people who have lent money to Musk… Wondering has it been a good investment for them.”

KEITH SUTER, international affairs commentator

Suspended accounts debate

Previously, Twitter had banned the accounts of many users, particularly those prone to far-right rhetorics.

Former President Donald Trump’s account had been suspended for nearly a year, alongside conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and controversial Andrew Tate.

Musk asked his followers in a poll if Twitter should “offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts? As Musk says, they haven’t broken the law?”

It all follows a turbulent economic time for the social media giant as it finds its place in the ever changing cyber sphere. 

Whether or not Twitter goes down the drain, remains to be seen. 

But love him or hate him, Musk has created an entertaining platform, with millions flocking to get a taste of what is the Twitter saga.

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Does Donald Trump need Twitter to win in 2024?

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Donald Trump is making a political comeback in 2024, but can he gain relevance without Twitter?

Donald Trump is making his political comeback, and Twitter boss Elon Musk has welcomed the former President back to the platform with open arms.

It was only a matter of weeks after taking over that Musk decided to lift Trump’s nearly year-long suspension.

Many expected Trump to jump at the offer and begin flooding our Twitter feeds again.

However, the former President may not want to return to Twitter, but why?

U.S. Commentator Susan Tehrani believes Trump’s decision to withhold his return to Twitter comes back to money.

“It might have to do with millions of dollars… [If he returns to Twitter] He may stand to lose a lot of money…

If Trump’s company goes public and only for him to go back on Twitter, start Tweeting and devalue Truth Social… He’s going to give his followers a reason to abandon Truth Social.”

Susan Tehrani, u.s. commentator

Twitter was Trump’s favourite app when he was President. He used the platform to drum up support and create buzz. Love him or hate him, Trump undeniably had people right around the world speaking about his latest thought.

In today’s society, people consume news via social media, in particular via Twitter.

With Trump absent from Twitter, it raises question about how he will maintain relevance in social media sphere in the lead up to his 2024 return.

Trump heads his own social media platform ‘Truth Social’, but it has just four million users, opposed to Twitter’s more than 200 million.

“With El on Musk at the helm it encourages a health debate…Then it going to be a place where Donald Trump can once again bypass even the mainstream media…And communicate directly with a wide audience.

Donald Trump would stand winning if he came back on Twitter.”

Susan Tehrani, u.s. commentator

Does Twitter need Trump, more than Trump needs Twitter?

With Musk at the reigns of Twitter, the social media giant is shifting its direction. Musk has made it clear he doesn’t believe in the previous ‘blue tick’ hierarchy, quickly scrapping the process.

He has been vocal about his desire for free speech on the platform. However, many are concerned that the changes may have a negative impact.

Although, change isn’t always a bad thing and perhaps Twitter needed a makeover, to keep up with today’s evolving society and array of opinions.

While Twitter is still popular, Musk’s move to reinstate Donald Trump’s account might have been strategic.

Trump is a bold politician, and regardless of his Twitter status, many are wondering what his next move will be.

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