Of the numerous reports on the visit by US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta to New Zealand, perhaps the most interesting is that in the state-controlled China Daily.
The high-level visit to New Zealand – the final stop on a tour that had taken Panetta to Japan and China – was motivated in large part by the growing focus of US foreign and defence policy on the Asia-Pacific region, and seen by many as an attempt to reinforce US-NZ links in the face of increasingly close ties between Wellington and Beijing.
Here’s the choice of headline in the report from the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, as it appears in the English-language version of China Daily:
US open to having troops in New Zealand
And the report:
The United States said it would be open to having troops based in New Zealand if that was acceptable to the New Zealand Government. Speaking on TVNZ’s Q+A program broadcast on Sunday, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said his country was keen to help New Zealand improve its defence capability.
Panetta said having American troops based in New Zealand could be part of that.
“If New Zealand feels that that’s something they would support and want, we certainly are more than ready to engage them in that kind of relationship. I think it would be very helpful; we do exercises together,” Panetta said.
Read a transcript of the Q+A interview here.
The Panetta visit also attracted the attention a few days ago of the Guardian‘s veteran world affairs expert Simon Tisdall. Read his excellent briefing (which probably slightly overstates the level of popular opposition to the visit) here.