Nau mai haere mai.

Chris Hipkins’ meeting with Chinese premier Xi Jinping was probably never going to change the course of history. But beneath the calm diplomatic surface, all the world’s geopolitical tensions were there in the Great Hall of the People with the two leaders.

From China’s vast market, its power plays in the Pacific and treatment of minority groups at home, to its intentions towards Taiwan and alliance with Russia, Beijing’s place in modern global politics touches on every aspect of New Zealand’s own strategic calculations.

In particular, warnings of a “new cold War” present a small trading nation like ours with extremely difficult choices: how to balance membership of the Western “club” with massive and growing economic reliance on an Eastern superpower.

As Al Gillespie writes today, this inherent tension within New Zealand’s “independent foreign policy” is beginning to strain the diplomatic tightrope. With a forthcoming visit to the NATO summit in July, and a potential “pillar two” membership of AUKUS in the offing, Hipkins will perhaps be thankful his red-carpet visit came sooner rather than later.

Thanks again to all our subscribers, and to those of you who have supported our fundraising campaign over the past month. Until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

Hipkins meets Xi Jinping: behind the handshakes, NZ walks an increasingly fine line with China

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

With a visit to NATO in July, and a decision due on joining the AUKUS security pact, Chris Hipkins’ visit to China has been well timed to avoid any further provocations.

Decolonising the news: 4 fundamental questions media can ask themselves when covering stories about Māori

Angela Moewaka Barnes, Massey University; Belinda Borell, Massey University; Tim McCreanor, Massey University

A Treaty framework developed for New Zealand On Air offers a way for journalists to critically evaluate their own work and promote more accountable and equitable day-to-day reporting.

NZ’s geothermal wells offer a cheap way of storing carbon permanently – equivalent to taking 600,000 cars off the road

David Dempsey, University of Canterbury; Karan Titus, University of Canterbury; Rebecca Peer, University of Canterbury

Most technologies for CO₂ removal are expensive. But New Zealand could be doing this cheaper than other countries, taking advantage of existing geothermal and forestry industries.

‘Battered and broken. I must get out’: what staff told us about teaching and working in universities today

Nik Taylor, University of Canterbury; Zoei Sutton, Flinders University

Stuff cuts are just the most visible aspect of critical problems within the modern university, as a new survey of academic workers reveals.

Sorry prime minister, Joe Biden was right – Xi Jinping really is a ‘dictator’

Nicholas Khoo, University of Otago

When is a dictatorship not a dictatorship? When you’re a New Zealand prime minister and you’re due to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping, that’s when.

With campus numbers plummeting due to online learning, do we need two categories of university degree?

Ananish Chaudhuri, University of Auckland

With the pandemic-fuelled shift to online learning, many tertiary students now miss out on the social skills critical to real-world success. That could have implications for their degrees.

Who benefits most from the protection of free speech – the haves or the have-nots?

Arthur Grimes, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

New research highlights how the people who value free speech may not be the ones who benefit from it the most.

It’s 4 years since the NZ government pledged $1.9 billion for better mental health services – why are we still waiting?

Dougal Sutherland, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

A focus on the lower end of mental health issues has meant those in crisis are still not getting the level of support they need.

Green hydrogen could be a game changer by displacing fossil fuels – we just need the price to come down

Ralph Cooney, University of Auckland

Currently, most hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels but the falling cost of renewables and growing demand for energy have added momentum for clean hydrogen.

From our foreign editions

Rent freezes and rent caps will only worsen, not solve Australia’s rental crisis

Ameeta Jain, Deakin University

The Greens and housing support groups want rent rises frozen but this might actually reduce the availability of suitable housing stock.

A new study of Warlpiri language shows how ‘baby talk’ helps little kids learn to speak

Rikke Louise Bundgaard-Nielsen, The University of Melbourne; Alice Nelson, Indigenous Knowledge; Carmel O'Shannessy, Australian National University; Jessie Bartlett, Indigenous Knowledge; Vanessa Napaltjari Davis, Australian National University

Previous studies of baby talk have focussed on European languages, Mandarin and Japanese. For the first time, research looks at an Australian Indigenous language.

Wagner group mercenaries in Africa: why there hasn’t been any effective opposition to drive them out

John F. Clark, Florida International University

The African Union (AU) and responsible African governments are likely to grow to resent the Wagner Group’s presence and regret their failure to oppose it.

Climate conferences have a huge trust deficit: how to make COP28 deliver

Carlos Lopes, University of Cape Town

To retain its legitimacy COP28 must advance the highest level of ambition and participation across all countries and major emitters.

How uploading our minds to a computer might become possible

Angela Thornton, University of Nottingham

Mind uploading could allow human consciousness to live on long after their body dies.

Fake news: EU targets political social media ads with tough new regulation proposal

Tom Kane, University of Stirling

New laws aim to give the public access to a repository containing every political ad sent out through social media.

States are weakening their child labor restrictions nearly 8 decades after the US government took kids out of the workforce

John A. Fliter, Kansas State University; Betsy Wood, Bard College

Some of the biggest changes to child labor laws are in Iowa and Arkansas.

BMI alone will no longer be treated as the go-to measure for weight management – an obesity medicine physician explains the seismic shift taking place

Scott Hagan, University of Washington

Overreliance on BMI as a measure of weight and health has deepened inequities and led to inaccuracies and overgeneralizations.