Former Australian Foreign Minister and NSW Premier, Bob Carr (left above) has decided to take legal action against NZ’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters (right above) just because he called him a ‘Chinese Puppet’.

Poor little possum – someone said something nasty about him!

Carr has experienced far worse during his political career, so why did he decide now to take umbrage at a bit of fairly mild ribbing?

To paraphrase Will Shakespeare, ‘Methinks he does protest too much’!

Truth can do that sometimes.

Many people might well believe that Bob Carr is an apologist for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but whether that deserves the term ‘puppet’ will undoubtedly be left for the Court to decide if this matter degenerates to that level.

Similar concerns have been expressed about former Prime Minister Paul Keating following his comments about China and our government’s stance on the CCP’s outrageous attempts to intimidate Australia and other countries in the region.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong recently hit back at explosive comments from Paul Keating, saying she would not “lose sleep” over his criticism of the government’s approach to China during ASEAN talks.

Keating had earlier published a statement attacking our Foreign Minister and Australia’s intelligence chiefs for taking a hard line on China.

This followed ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess’ announcement that the agency’s annual threat assessment revealed a former politician had “sold out” Australia to foreign agents, who were later revealed to be working for China’s Ministry of State Security.

Keating appears to believe that China’s communist regime is all goodness and light and that we are actually the problem!

So, in view of this, does Winston Peters believe Keating is also a ‘Chinese Puppet’?

Many undoubtedly suspect he does – as many Australians probably do as well.

Penny Wong – Xi Jinping – Paul Keating

Winston Peters has stood firm on his criticism of Bob Carr’s stance on China despite the threat of a defamation lawsuit.

At the same time, he spoke out on China’s human rights abuses, while acknowledging his country’s dependence on trade with China, in a speech to the NZ China Council.

The Minister told assembled businesspeople that he was “standing up for the rights and principles of our society,” and did not think accusing Australia’s former Foreign Minister Bob Carr of being under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was damaging the bilateral relationship.

Mr. Carr said his solicitors had sent a defamation letter to Mr. Peters over his remarks.

In response, Mr. Peters said, “This is not my first legal rodeo,” and asserted, “I’ve got a right to say what I said” and that he would “never tell another country what they should be doing.”

The dispute was spurred by earlier remarks by Mr. Carr who said New Zealand’s participation in “Pillar II” of the trilateral AUKUS agreement was “fragrant, methane-wrapped [expletive].”

“Why do I call it [expletive]? Because it’s been cobbled together to make it look like there’s more to AUKUS than subs—there isn’t,” he said in NZ last month.

Pillar II of AUKUS focuses on technology sharing between the partners, an issue that Japanese authorities have also expressed interest in.

Foreign Minister Peters said NZ joining AUKUS should be considered, particularly given the importance of military interoperability with the country’s only formal ally, Australia.

He called critics “out of date” and said they had “rejected Pillar II outright before even being in possession of the basic facts.”

“Critics also possess a luxury we do not. They can paint the darkest picture of Pillar II and make ignorant assertions about the nature of the strategic environment, liberated by not knowing what they just don’t know,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Peters said New Zealand and the surrounding region faced security threats, citing public reports from New Zealand officials.

“China has a long-standing presence in the Pacific, but we are seriously concerned by increased engagement in Pacific security sectors. We do not want to see developments that destabilise the institutions and arrangements that have long underpinned our region’s security.

You’ve observed events in the Middle East, Ukraine, the South China Sea, all these things impact on us if they get out of hand and they’re on the edge of doing that now.”

Particularly in the South China Sea, “a simple miscalculation or accident could lead to sudden and unpredictable escalation. This would have real implications for the stability and prosperity of the region.”

Despite New Zealand’s “One China” policy, he was also concerned that China’s actions would exacerbate tensions in the Taiwan Strait, as well as human rights issues.

“We expect China to adhere to the principles and commitments that underpin internationally agreed human rights framework, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other core human rights treaties.

“We have consistently made clear our serious concerns about human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, and violations of human rights in Hong Kong, and in Tibet. We will continue to call on China to uphold its obligations.”

At the same time, he acknowledged China’s importance to New Zealand as its largest trading partner since 2017.

“China is a vital economic partner for New Zealand, offering opportunities for trade, investment, and cooperation that benefits both sides,” Mr. Peters said in his speech.

“We value a productive, stable, and complementary trading relationship with China.”

Asked whether China had expressed any concerns over New Zealand’s interest in AUKUS, the foreign minister said Beijing understood that the country had a right to its own foreign policy.

Hopefully both Bob Carr and Paul Keating will take a step back and reconsider their remarks in the context of Communist China’s ongoing attacks on Western democratic society ……… and Australia in particular.

Bob Carr illustration by David Rowe

Thanks to Rex Widerstrom writing for The Epoch Times and the Financial Review and Sky News for their contributions to this article.