Nigel Farage claims New Zealand launching alliance with China, leaving Five Eyes, despite Jacinda Ardern, Nanaia Mahuta saying otherwise

Nigel Farage, the prominent former Brexit-backing British politician, has claimed New Zealand is launching a "new close alliance" with China and leaving the Five Eyes, despite our Foreign Affairs Minister and Prime Minister saying otherwise.

Nanaia Mahuta on Monday said New Zealand was "uncomfortable" expanding the remit of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance to comment on issues relating to non-security matters. 

It follows criticism of New Zealand for not joining up to recent statements released by the Five Eyes on issues in China. Aotearoa has done so in the past, but has also raised concerns independently and in joint statements with Australia. 

Mahuta's comments have been taken out of context in some overseas news reports which have suggested her comments signal New Zealand is leaving the Five Eyes alliance. 

Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday, in response to the international reaction, reaffirmed New Zealand's commitment to the Five Eyes, while Mahuta on Wednesday said Aotearoa would continue to engage with the alliance "as we always have". 

Newshub also reported on Thursday that during the last conversations Ardern had with the UK's Boris Johnson and Australia's Scott Morrison, when Five Eyes came up, it was raised proactively by Ardern and they didn't suggest a Five Eyes expulsion.

Despite that, Farage - probably best known for Kiwis for his promotion of the Brexit cause - is now claiming Mahuta's comments suggest New Zealand is leaving the Five Eyes and setting up a new partnership with China.

In a YouTube video released on Friday morning, and so far viewed more than 39,000 times, the former Brexit Party leader says he was "stunned" by Mahuta's remark given most Five Eyes countries are becoming increasingly concerned by China. 

"Absolutely shocking, stunning statement that has come from the New Zealand Foreign Minister, backed up by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern (sic), that effectively they are launching a new close alliance with China and they are effectively leaving the Five Eyes intelligence network," Farage said.

"We have just lost one of our closest and oldest allies in the world, because they are now completely in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. New Zealand has sold their souls to Communist China, and why? Because lots of their exports go there."

Mahuta's office didn't wish to comment when contacted about Farage's claims.

He also goes on to criticise British politicians for their relationships with China, but applauds a move by the UK Government this week to cut aid to the Asian state.

It also comes as the majority of lawmakers in the UK Parliament on Friday voted to declare a genocide agaisnt the Uighur people in China's Xinjiang. The government, however, believes the determination of genocide should be left to the courts. 

Farage isn't the only international politician speaking out about Mahuta's comments.

Former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has spoken to Times Radio and said he was surprised by the remarks.

"I personally think it is very ill-advised because what they have done is they have alienated themselves from the Australians and the Brits and the Americans," he said. "We are not going to say much about it publicly, at the official level, but privately it just makes you roll your eyes."

He said the partnership was no longer Five Eyes, but "four eyes and wink", and expected it to be raised during the current Australian Foreign Affairs Minister's visit to New Zealand this week.

Senator Marise Payne met with Mahuta on Thursday for talks. At a press conference following the meeting, both ministers said the bilateral had been constructive and positive. 

On the issue of Mahuta's Five Eyes comments, Sen Payne didn't express any concern. She said countries could "choose to address issues of concerns in whichever forum they themselves determine appropriate and consistent with their respective national interest".

"Our respect for each other - Australia, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada - is enduring and continuing and one which we, particularly in Australia value enormously." 

An article from The Telegraph published on Tuesday also said that UK intelligence sources "were not concerned" by Mahuta's remarks.

Mahuta spoke about the Five Eyes following a speech to the NZ China Council on Monday about the relationship between Aotearoa and China. 

In it, she acknowledged the importance of the countries' ties, including for trade, but also said there were some matters on which the two nations "do not, cannot, and will not, agree". 

"Sometimes we will therefore find it necessary to speak out publicly on issues, like we have on developments in Hong Kong, the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and cyber incidents," Mahuta said.  

"At times we will do this in association with others that share our views and sometimes we will act alone. In each case we make our decisions independently, informed by our values and our own assessment of New Zealand’s interests."

Mahuta joined her Australian counterpart twice in March to call out Beijing, while New Zealand has been a party to statements read out at the United Nations. 

Ardern in March said Aotearoa would continue to raise concerns with China over its treatment of the Uighur people. 

"We are entirely predictable in the way we're dealing with this issue. When we see a concern that we have, we raise it and we raise it directly."