Commercial for 60 Minutes Australia about New Zealand-China relationship ridiculed online

An advert for an upcoming episode of an Australian current affairs programme focussed on New Zealand's relationship with China is being ridiculed online for being overly dramatic. 

According to a promotional video posted on social media on Wednesday night, 60 Minutes Australia will on Sunday broadcast a story about New Zealand's ties to China, which have come under intense scrutiny this year as other nations have stepped up their rhetoric towards the Asian powerhouse. 

The episode will air across the Tasman on the same day Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives in New Zealand for a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The commercial, which features a dramatically deep voiceover and the type of background music normally found in action film trailers, begins with journalist Tom Steinfort asking Ardern if "you sometimes have to bite your tongue upsetting the regime in Beijing", to which she bluntly answers, "no".

Teasing interviews with NewstalkZB shock jock Mike Hosking and Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, the video goes on to pose the questions of "just what are the Kiwis up to now" and if New Zealand is turning into "New Xi-land", a reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"We thought they were our best friends, but it looks like they've ditched us for a fast Chinese buck," the advert's voiceover says. 

As of Thursday morning, the video has been viewed more than 70,000 times on Twitter alone, wracking up hundreds of likes and retweets.

However, many of the people sharing the commercial have taken issue with how it appears to present the New Zealand-China-Australia dynamic.

"Where do I even begin with this ridiculous framing…?" asked Nathan Attrill, an expert in Chinese foreign policy.

"Calm and measured analysis, just as you'd expect…" tweeted David Capie, the head of Victoria University's Centre for Strategic Studies. 

"Is Australian news coverage normally this dramatic?" asked Matthew Champion, the executive editor for VICE World News.

Others suggested the promotional video was "beyond parody"

"I can't stop watching, it plays like a parody with that voice over... "Nuuuuu Xi-land". Zinger!"

"I cringed so hard watching this promo that my face hurt."


"The rule is that all Australian TV must be made like an episode of Married At First Sight."

"lmfao this is unironically one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time"

Some said that it is Australia which has hurt its friendship with New Zealand through its infamous 501 deportation policy, which Ardern has previously said is "corrosive" to the countries' relationship. 

"We thought that you were our friends too. But you treat our citizens in your country well below the level we treat your citizens here. You dump people you rejected, who developed their criminality in your place, on us. You treat asylum seekers badly. Look at yourself first."

But the reaction wasn't all negative or sarcastic. 

"So I see all manner of people scoffing at, or deploring this trailer, but allowing for some commercial TV hyperbole it seems to touch on a real issue about the ongoing reluctance of the  NZ political system to do anything much other than pander and prefer the issue to go away," said economic analyst Michael Reddell.

"Oh thank goodness Aussie has seen what we do," tweeted another user.

"Ouch... this'll be interesting," said another.

In recent months, editorials in some international media - including a handful in Australia - have attempted to paint New Zealand as subservient to China and Aotearoa as prioritising the two countries' massive trade over speaking out against China's human rights abuses. 

Many ignore the fact Ardern and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta have repeatedly expressed concern with Beijing's interference in Hong Kong's judiciary, abuses of the Uighur people in Xinjiang and activities in the South China Sea. 

Mahuta has previously done so with her Australian counterpart.

At the same time, Australia has been hit hard by trade tariffs imposed by Beijing in retaliation for it speaking up against human rights breaches and calling for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. 

In April, right-wing Australian television host Andrew Bolt accused New Zealand of "backstabbing" Australia by not signing up to a statement expressing concerns about a study into COVID-19. 

"Your Government, your Prime Minister. Why are they letting Australia hang in the wind? Why are they not backing us up in this very serious confrontation with the Chinese dictatorship," Bolt questioned. 

But last December, New Zealand did come to Australia's side when a senior Chinese official posted a digitally-altered image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to a child. Aotearoa directly expressed its concern about the image with China. 

A sore point for some has been New Zealand's reluctance to join up to statements from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, of which Aotearoa is a member, on China's human rights breaches. 

In April, Mahuta said she was "uncomfortable" expanding the Five Eyes' remit to comment on issues relating to non-security matters and instead preferred to look for other "multilateral opportunities to express our interests". 

That sparked a wave of criticism overseas, with some commentators erroneously saying New Zealand was leaving the Five Eyes and politicians claiming Aotearoa was ditching its traditional partners in favour of China.

Mahuta has since said New Zealand is committed to the Five Eyes but must maintain a mature relationship with China even when there are issues on which the two countries "do not, cannot and will not agree"

Asked directly on Newshub Nation last month whether New Zealand was prioritising cash and trade over humanity and ethics, Mahuta said we have to be respectful.

"New Zealand's relationship with China is significant in terms of exporting, and there are areas that we can't agree on, but we want to be respectful, consistent, and predictable in the way that we treat China," she said.

Earlier in May, the New Zealand Parliament declared that "severe human rights abuses" are underway in Xinjiang, a move which angered the Chinese side. 

The declaration was, however, weaker than originally intended. It was initially worded to declare a genocide as occuring, but that was watered down after deliberations with the ruling Labour Party. 

Mahuta, a Labour MP, said a designation of genocide is tied to international law and should come only after a "rigourous assessment" of evidence. She called on China to provide United Nations experts unfettered access to Xinjiang to assess the situation.