As a sovereign democracy, New Zealand has the absolute right to set its own foreign policy. Its nominally closest allies have that same right, however.

Considering New Zealand's now unambiguous foreign policy service of China's interests, the United States, Australia, Britain, and Canada should move to suspend Wellington from the Five Eyes alliance. That alliance involves the cooperative collection and sharing of intelligence material gathered around the world. It thus gives New Zealand access to exquisite intelligence reporting that Wellington otherwise would have no means of gathering.

Unfortunately, as I noted last year, New Zealand's refusal to counter China's global aggression means that it's no longer reliable as a Five Eyes member.

This is a great shame. New Zealand has traditionally been a very close U.S. ally. Its armed forces served with honor in Afghanistan, losing 10 of their own. New Zealand's special forces showed especial skill and courage. Sadly, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has again reminded us why her government cannot be trusted with the most sensitive U.S. intelligence material.

In a BBC News interview published on Wednesday, Ardern said that New Zealand has a "mature" relationship with China. When addressing disagreements with Beijing, including on "human rights," Ardern insisted her government is "very forthright and clear."

Fact check: false.

It was only last week, after all, that Wellington allowed the extradition to China of a permanent New Zealand resident. While China accuses the man of murder, there is literally zero chance that he will receive a fair trial. This extradition is thus a plain betrayal of New Zealand's supposed sacredly held commitment to the rule of law. No worries, however, because in supporting the extradition request, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta told the court that China had pledged to treat the man fairly.

Even by the standards of Ardern's government, Mahuta is an unusually zealous appeaser of Beijing. But her pledge is, of course, worse than worthless — worse, because it only proves that New Zealand needs the most pathetic pretense in order to sell its soul to Beijing. Don't believe me? Then consider China's record on pledges. Consider its treaty commitment via Britain to respect Hong Kong's democratic rights until 2047. China has eviscerated that pledge in recent years. Or consider China's 2015 pledge to end its U.S. intellectual property theft. That pledge is being broken each year to the price tag of hundreds of billions of dollars. Or consider China's new pledge to adopt international forced labor standards. Does anyone expect it to include the Uyghur people?

Give me a break. Ardern's government refuses even to join collective condemnations of Beijing's human rights abuses. It knows that China is particularly infuriated by collective action, fearing international isolation and loss of influence.

This obsession with keeping China happy is so unrelenting it is now patently absurd. In condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for example, Ardern noted that Russia must be resisted because it has attacked the democratic international order. She says that this "threatens everyone, including New Zealand."

This is true.

But so also does China grossly undermine international order with its threats to subjugate Taiwan, seize the South China Sea, turn poorer nations into feudal subjects, unilaterally dredge the oceans of wildlife, and threaten small, far-away nations such as Lithuania that dare speak up for human freedom. Ardern has a solemn commitment to international order, just excluding the greatest threat to that order!

Proving as much, the prime minister rejected the notion that Russia's war reflects a broader effort by autocracies to impose their will upon smaller nations: China against Taiwan, for example. "Let's not be quick to create a binary situation between two differing schisms in the world," she said. This rhetoric is in pitch-perfect tune with the Chinese foreign ministry's screeching that efforts to counter autocratic intimidation, such as the AUKUS alignment (from which New Zealand is notably absent), reflect an unacceptable "Cold War mentality."

Where does this leave us?

Appeasement might earn New Zealand its lucrative trade and the avoidance of Beijing's more ludicrous insults. But Wellington's betrayal of democratic values and security is no longer tolerable. Australia can replace Five Eyes signal intelligence stations currently on New Zealand's territory, but the risk of sharing the most sensitive U.S. intelligence with Ardern's government is no longer sustainable.

Ardern can tell the BBC that her foreign policy is "fiercely independent," but in reality, it's just firmly indentured to China.