19 Nov 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern 'takes heart' in common ground of world leaders as APEC ends

6:17 pm on 19 November 2022
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looks on as she attends the "APEC Leaders' Dialogue with ABAC" event during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok on November 18, 2022. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at APEC in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: AFP

The APEC economic summit in Bangkok, Thailand, is over bringing an end to a whirlwind week in South East Asia for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern said she had taken heart from the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Cambodia and the APEC conference that there was a common acceptance of the value of dialogue and diplomacy to tackle the dangerous geo-political threats.

"There's no question the world is at a difficult juncture," she said.

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Norman Albanese, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japan’s Fumio Kishida, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, and New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern, attend a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on November 18, 2022. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun ) (Photo by Pool for Yomiuri / Yomiuri / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with other world leaders at APEC. Photo: AFP

"I take heart from the fact that in all conversations there is still that common ground - except for Russia - that we hear consistently that people want peace, want stability, want dialogue, and the use of diplomacy."

The Ukraine war, and belatedly North Korea's missile test, cast shadows over talk of sustainable growth, climate change, and circular economies.

But Ardern said economies and wellbeing were directly linked to war and nuclear missile threats.

"It is an economic issue, it is impacting our cost of living in New Zealand, it is in our interests and for our economy that there is peace and stability."

Jacinda Ardern and Xi Jinping

Jacinda Ardern with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: POOL / Thomas Manch


Ardern's face to face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping was the high point of the APEC gathering, with attention on how to press New Zealand concerns about China's assertive foreign policy in the region and over Taiwan, North Korean missiles, and human rights issues involving the Muslim Uyghers.

She said the meeting, which lasted more than double the allotted time, had been frank but she and Xi were able to reaffirm the mature basis for the future relationship.

Xi also reaffirmed friendship and respect for New Zealand's independent foreign policy, leading to the prospect of a trade mission to China at some stage soon and co-operation on climate change.

But New Zealand also squarely showed where its diplomatic loyalties lay by joining the US, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Australia in a condemnation of the North Korean missile test, and support for another approach to the United Nations.

The pace of the trip and the issues to be discussed rarely let up from landing in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh for the East Asia Summit (EAS) last weekend to tackle the beast in the room - the Ukraine War and the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs