New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has maintained that despite the country’s friendly posture with China, there are always going to be differences with its top trading partner as Beijing takes on a broader role in the world.

Ardern acknowledged in her speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland on Monday that these differences are becoming harder to reconcile but added these differences need not define their relationship.

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There are things on which China and New Zealand “do not, cannot, and will not agree,” the PM said.

“It will not have escaped the attention of anyone here that as China’s role in the world grows and changes, the differences between our systems – and the interests and values that shape those systems – are becoming harder to reconcile.

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“This is a challenge that we, and many other countries across the Indo Pacific region, but also in Europe and other regions, are also grappling with,” she added.

This comment followed as New Zealand faces pressure from some elements among Western allies over its reluctance to use the Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance to criticize Beijing.

The Five Eyes include Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.

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Last month, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced that Ardern was uncomfortable expanding the role of Five Eyes—-a statement that garnered criticism from Western allies.

According to analysts, Ardern’s statement on Monday reiterates New Zealand’s stance to keep an independent foreign policy not loyal to any bloc.

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