Shame on our MPs

There are some things I write about here that I really don’t care that much about.

But this isn’t one of them.

Yesterday at the start of Parliament’s sitting day, the prayer was read in Chinese by Labour MP, Raymond Huo.   This was apparently in recognition of the PRC-government sponsored Chinese language week.

There are three “official” languages in New Zealand: English, Maori, and sign language.  Chinese is not one of those languages, so why is it being used as an official part of parliamentary proceeedings in this country?

There are, of course, migrants from the PRC (and other Chinese-speaking countries/territories), as there are migrants from many other countries.  But when they come to New Zealand, and participate (as they should) in our political processes, they should do so speaking one of our languages.  As a migrant you might, to some extent hold on to your birth culture, but you made a choice to come to New Zealand, and part of that choice should be to adopt New Zealand ways and laws.   We are not some PRC colony.

I noted that Chinese language week is a PRC-government sponsored event.  The patron is Her Excellency, the PRC’s ambassador in New Zealand.   Among the trustees are Raymond Huo himself, the president of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, well-known for its close associations with the regime, the chair of the Victoria University (PRC-funded) Confucius Institute (and a senior consultant to the PRC government around Confucius Institutes) and the chief executive of the local branch of one of the Chinese banks.   (On this occasion, former PRC intelligence offical Jian Yang  – who misrepresented his past to get into New Zealand – is only an honorary adviser.)   And who do we find among the “sponsors” and “partners”?  Listed first in Hanban, the PRC government agency behind that network of Confucius Institutes around the world.   In the same top-tier is one of the Chinese banks (recalling that all Chinese corporates are seen, by the Chinese government, as arms of the PRC party/state).  Just behind, are the New Zealand government propaganda arms –  the China Council (from whom never a sceptical word is heard) and the Asia New Zealand Foundation –  the individual Confucius Institutes, the Wellington City Council (wasting my rates again) and various businesses and universities that want to keep on side with Beijing.

This is, overwhelmingly, a PRC promoted and sponsored body/event.  Any serious observer would recognise that, and the propaganda win involved in allowing the parliamentary prayer to be said by Huo, in Chinese.   No wonder Huo could talk of a record number of people watching Parliament TV from abroad (assuming there is any data to support such a claim).    Could one imagine a member being invited to open the day’s session of the PRC legislature with a prayer in English?   Silly me.  Legislature, in the PRC.  Ritual rubber-stamp more like.  Prayer?  Why, it is an avowedly atheistic regime, uneasy about anything or anyone that claims a higher allegiance than the Party.

Being a fairly open-minded place, where our leaders are largely heedless –  and careless –  of our heritage, it might have been one thing if Chinese language week had had as joint patrons (evil as her regime is) the PRC Ambassador and the Taiwanese government’s representative in New Zealand.    Or if the key figures were not political at all.  Or if the ethnic Chinese MP reading the prayer had a track record of standing up, and speaking out, against the evils of the totalitarian regime that brutally rules the land of his birth.  Or had originally from another Chinese-speaking country.

But, of course, none of these things held.    What do we know of Raymond Huo, senior Labour backbencher (presumably hoping for higher office before too long) who – remarkably (or perhaps not given the carelessness of our MPs) – chairs the Justice select committee in Parliament.  A man who has never once that I’m aware of, in his years in Parliament, uttered a single word critical of the PRC regime.  A man who openly defends the Chinese conquest of Tibet, and the brutal suppression of the people and their identity.   And here is what Anne-Marie Brady wrote about him in her Magic Weapons paper last year.

Even more so than Yang Jian, who until the recent controversy, was not often quoted in the New Zealand non-Chinese language media, the Labour Party’s ethnic Chinese MP, Raymond Huo霍建强 works very publicly with China’s united front organizations in New Zealand and promotes their policies in English and Chinese. Huo was a Member of of Parliament from 2008 to 2014, then returned to Parliament again in 2017 when a list position became vacant. In 2009, at a meeting organized by the Peaceful Reunification of China Association of New Zealand to celebrate Tibetan Serf Liberation Day, Huo said that as a “person from China” (中国人) he would promote China’s Tibet policies to the New Zealand Parliament.

Huo works very closely with the PRC representatives in New Zealand. In 2014, at a meeting to discuss promotion of New Zealand’s Chinese Language Week (led by Huo and Johanna Coughlan) Huo said that “Advisors from Chinese communities will be duly appointed with close consultation with the Chinese diplomats and community leaders.” Huo also has close contacts with the Zhi Gong Party 致公党 (one of the eight minor parties under the control of the United Front Work Department). The Zhi Gong Party is a united front link to liaise with overseas Chinese communities, as demonstrated in a meeting between Zhi Gong Party leaders and Huo to promote the New Zealand OBOR Foundation and Think Tank.

It was Huo who made the decision to translate Labour’s 2017 election campaign slogan “Let’s do it” into a quote from Xi Jinping (撸起袖子加油干, which literally means “roll up your sleeves and work hard”). Huo told journalists at the Labour campaign launch that the Chinese translation “auspiciously equates to a New Year’s message from President Xi Jinping encouraging China to ‘roll its sleeves up’.”   However, inauspiciously, in colloquial Chinese, Xi’s phrase can also be read as “roll up your sleeves and f..k hard” and the verb (撸) has connotations of masturbation.  Xi’s catchphrase has been widely satirized in Chinese social media.  Nonetheless, the phrase is now the politically correct slogan for promoting OBOR, both in China and abroad. The use of Xi’s political catchphrase in the Labour campaign, indicates how tone deaf Huo and those in the Chinese community he works with are to how the phrase would be received in the New Zealand political environment. In 2014, when asked about the issue of Chinese political influence in New Zealand, Huo told RNZ National, “Generally the Chinese community is excited about the prospect of China having more influence in New Zealand” and added, “many Chinese community members told him a powerful China meant a backer, either psychologically or in the real sense.”


During his successful campaign for the Auckland mayoralty, in 2016, former Labour leader and MP, Phil Goff received $366,115 from a charity auction and dinner for the Chinese community. The event was organized by Labour MP Raymond Huo. Tables sold for $1680 each. Because it was a charity auction Goff was not required to state who had given him donations, but one item hit the headlines. A signed copy of the Selected Works of Xi Jinping was sold to a bidder from China for $150,000.  A participant at the fundraiser said the reason why so many people attended and had bid strongly for items was because they believed Goff would be the next mayor.


In June 2017, at the Langley Hotel in Auckland, the State Council Overseas Chinese Affairs Office hosted an update meeting to discuss the integration of the overseas Chinese media with the domestic Chinese media. In attendance was Li Guohong, Vice Director of the Propaganda Department of the State Council Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, and other senior CCP media management officials, representatives of the ethnic Chinese media in New Zealand, representatives of ethnic Chinese community groups, and Labour MP Raymond Huo.  Update meetings (通气会) are one of the main ways the CCP relays instructions to the domestic Chinese media, in order to avoid a paper trail. Party directives are accorded a higher status than national law.

There is no sign at all of Huo putting any distance between himself and one of most repressive totalitarian regimes on the planet.  If anything, he only seems to want to hug the regime, and Xi Jinping, closer.  No wonder former diplomat and now lobbyist Charles Finny told a TVNZ Q&A interviewer last year that he was always very careful what he said in front of Huo.

And since this was a prayer being said, what about the religious dimensions?  Parliament’s prayer is an odd sort of beast, made odder by the current Speaker who rewrote the prayer to remove any distinctive Christian aspects, while keeping it distinctively monotheistic (references to Almighty God –  and not to localised tree gods or other minor deities).  As a Christian, I’d be happy enough (would probably prefer) Parliament dropped the prayer altogether: even if hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, I’d rather MPs just recognised that the dominant “religion” of New Zealand (and every society has one, defined broadly) isn’t theistic at all.

But, for now, Parliament is opened each day with a monotheistic prayer, some vague nodding reference to our heritage, but vague enough that the small numbers of Muslims and Jews in New Zealand can probably nod along.

And what is the status of religion in the People’s Republic of China?   The Communist Party, which runs the state, is avowedly atheistic.  Religous believers, of whatever stripe, aren’t allowed to join the Party, as a matter of ideological commitment.    And both the Party and state are threatened by any sense of higher loyalties, not just theistic ones –  witness the extreme measures they’ve taken to suppress Falun Gong.   And what of theistic religions?    In the case of Islam, consider the extreme repression now in place in Xinjiang province, where some estimates suggest more than a million people may be in concentration and indoctrination “camps” (prisons), the surveillance state is taken to extremes, kids are taken from imprisoned parents, declared orphans, and then retrained to forget the identity, or even the existence, of their parents.   No New Zealand public figure –  no minister, no MP, and certainly not Raymond Huo (former countrymen of these victims) –  has spoken up, or spoken out, against that almost unbelievable persecution.     What you don’t speak up about –  when you in a position to be heard – is what you tolerate, what you really don’t care much about at all.  And yet Raymond Huo has the cheek to accept the offer to utter the prayer to this monotheistic Almighty God.

What of Christians?   They’ve had an uneasy relationship with the PRC over recent decades.   There are tame churches, in the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (Protestant) and a parallel with Catholics.  In many respects, they are orthodox, and yet they allow themselves to be placed under the thumb of the party-State (as for example, much of the Lutheran church in Germany did during the Nazi era).  But those churches who won’t bend the knee to the party-State are subject to increasing persecution in the Xi Jinping era, and attempts to suborn them and their leaders.  One large independent church in Beijing recently closed –  went to operating in small groups and by podcasts –  after the authorities insisted on the right place surveillance cameras in their buildings.  In response to growing repression and threats more than 100 pastors recently signed a declaration ending this way (emphasis added)

Christians are obligated to respect the authorities, to pray fervently for their benefit, and to pray earnestly for Chinese society. For the sake of the gospel, we are willing to suffer all external losses brought about by unfair law enforcement. Out of a love for our fellow citizens, we are willing to give up all of our earthly rights. 

For this reason, we believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church. We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any “ban” or “fine” imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and our lives. 

The situation has got consistently worse under Xi Jinping – who Raymond Huo holds close –  who is reported to regard churches as “severe national security threats”.

And yet Raymond Huo is invited by the Speaker of our Parliament –  presumably with the acquiescence of other party leaders, including the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition – to utter the daily prayer to the monotheistic Almighty God?   It is shameful.

But also telling.  After all, Simon Bridges last year signed up to the idea of a “fusion of civilisations” with this evil totalitarian regime.  Party presidents, Haworth and Goodfellow, head up to Beijing and sing the praises of the party/State and of Xi Jinping himself.

And just the other day, the chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade  –  about to become head of the PM’s department, and so we can presume was assuredly on-message –  gave a rare published speech.     In it he articulated New Zealand foreign policy, including among his ten basic principles this one

Second, be deliberate in supporting New Zealand’s values, speaking out in defence of them when required, even where that might put us at odds with others.

In fact, he quoted the Prime Minister from a speech earlier in the year

“In this uncertain world, where long accepted positions have been met with fresh challenge – our response lies in the approach that, with rare exceptions, we have always taken. Speaking up for what we believe in, standing up when our values are challenged and working tirelessly to refurbish rules and build architecture, and to draw in partners with shared views.

And noted

I can say with confidence that all of the Governments for which I have worked would hold these things to be true. 

In which case, I guess we must be able to deduce the real values of our leaders –  ministers past and present, and MPs –  but what they do and don’t say.    After all, they speak up for what they believe in, or so we are told?

When our Parliament invites a CCP-affiliated MP, who champions the interests of the atheistic PRC regime, and has his own party campaign under a Xi Jinping slogan, to open the day’s parliamentary sitting in prayer, in Chinese it seems unlikely that any of them care much about anything other than trade deals for big corporates and their donors, and none of them has the slightest regard for our own heritage, our own values, or for the freedom (including to worship, or not) of Christians, Muslims, and others in China.   There are, so we are told, Christian MPs in our Parliament.  But apparently not even a single one of them was willing to speak up, or speak out.

I don’t suppose New Zealand ranks very high among the issues that concern Beijing, but it must have been a good day in the relevant corners of Beijing officialdom yesterday –  bonuses for the Ambassador perhaps –  as they looked at the useful idiots masquerading as leaders in the New Zealand Parliament.

As a matter of urgency, we need someone –  some party –  to stand up for taking back our country, for asserting the values, traditions, and liberties of its people, the self-respect that (among other things) was presumably part of what attracted some ethnic Chinese to move here in the first place.  As for the present leadership, heedless, careless, and useless……selling out their country (mostly not for personal enrichment) whether by their indifference or their active involvement.

Yes, it will have been a good day in Beijing.  If the butchers ever take time to chuckle, yesterday might have been one of those days.





41 thoughts on “Shame on our MPs

  1. You would have thought the Greens were the natural party for this type of speaking out – they paint themselves as social justice warriors, particularly the younger members.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I have kept banging on about.
    Why do we give the vote to anyone who is not a citizen of New Zealand?
    That would force all (not just Chinese) who wish to vote, to choose to become a citizen.
    In the Chinese case they would have to give up their previous citizenship and passport.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your stance on this, although many/most of the high profile issues involve people who have become citizens. Also the PRC seems to be changing its stance towards a position that “once an ethnic Chinese – even if never a PRC citizen – always owing loyalty to the PRC”. Pushed too far that is a real threat in a variety of different ways.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your article. I have said and intend to keep repeating the statement that I will never vote for National while Jian Yang is a candidate. I’m thinking much the same for Labour and Raymond Huo.


  3. I know a few people who have been to China alah Christianity and i have been told house churches are the largest groups. Makes sense as it is very hard for the State to police them.


  4. We should adopt the same laws as Australia regarding the right to enter Parliament as a citizen of New Zealand. Under MMP it’s entirely plausible that someone with strong links to an unfriendly government can enter Parliament and become PM. Appalling.


    • I don’t think the Australian provisions necessarily provide much protection. You could legally renounce any claims to PRC, Russian, South African (or whatever) citizenship and still be deeply problematic.

      For the moment, our good fortune is that the most problematic individuals aren’t good politicians or people anyone serious would think had good claims to be a minister. They weren’t recruited for that reason. But others might be in future.


      • The two problematics are both un-elected – they are both anointed – 3 degrees of separation between them and accountability

        What do they do while parliament is not sitting


      • The Australian provisions might not provide total protection, but crikey, some protection is better than no protection


      • I’d argue it was very little protection (and in the Aus case it ended up being used mostly against people with obscure heritage in places like NZ or the UK – fairly enough given the constitutional provision, but to what substantive end?). If given a magic wand and able to pass any 5 pieces of legislation, this wouldn’t be one of them.

        The biggest problem in NZ isn’t the foreign born MPs, and questions about their possible dual allegiances, but about the will (lack of it) of the NZ born and bred ones, past and present: Key, English, Clark, Finlayson, Bridges, Little, Ardern, Peters etc.


  5. Confucius institutes need to be seen for what they are. They are organs of the Chinese government implanted into our universities in order to: 1) ensure Chinese students don’t pick up any crazy radical ideas like freedom or democracy, 2) to recruit people to the cause of the PRC and: 3) to implant moles and sleeper agents into positions in government and business in our country.

    The Chinese Communist Party infiltrated the Nationalists prior to 1949 and these agents were crucial in their victory.

    We should stop being child-like regarding the PRC and realise that they are no friend of New Zealand and we need to treat them with dignity and respect but also with caution and some degree of mature distrust. Huo and Yang should be removed from our highest legislative body.

    Well done Michael. I just hope that those bums in Parliament are reading your blog.


  6. Ref could Raymond Huo and Jian Yang be asked their opinion? I would like to hear from our party leaders too.

    It is a moral issue – obviously rewarding organ harvesting is evil but if it is the only way to save the life of a loved family member do you give love of family priority over a reputed activity happening in a sovereign foreign country?


  7. I wish to applaud your efforts at keeping this subject to the forefront. It is noticeable that Hickey and co at Newsroom have distanced themselves from it since the original reveal. The two MSM print organs have never touched it. You are now on your own. Plaudits.


    • The Herald’s journalist still appears to be trying, and the PM is successfully avoiding his questions

      while “submitting” to yet more soft-soap celebrity interviews in NY

      Liked by 1 person

  8. With more than a billion people speaking Chinese, I guess if we want to be a trading nation its probably appropriate we learn the language. It was rather embarrassing when I was invited for lunch with a chap from Guangzhou with NZ Permanent Residence who owned a telecommunications company in China and was checking out where in NZ to invest his millions and language was certainly a barrier getting the message across that he could invest in my various projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no problem at all with people learning Chinese, Arabic, Russian or whatever. The post was about the avowedly atheistic PRC govt managing to get one of their own supporters saying the parliamentary prayer in a foreign language.

      teach languages in our schools by all means, but let’s pay for and choose the teachers ourselves.


      • Not too sure you can call them overlords. My experience so far in various dealings with Chinese business leaders suggest a more benign attitude ie more money than brains.


      • Met a Chinese businessman that had setup a Foreign Currency trading company in NZ who paid a local NZ certification company $60,000 for AML/CFT certification, incorporation of the Trading company and registration as a FSP(Financial Services Provider). The actual cost of incorporating a company is $120, FSP registration is less than $2,000 and the certification is not required. The AML/CFT manual provided was a standard template likely from a copy and paste from the internet. Lots of money to be made when our “Overlords” or more aptly called “more money than brains” patsy.


    • Embarrassing for who. The Chinese businessman who turned up unable to communicate and had no interpreter. If he was seriously looking at investing he should/would bring his own interpreter. This is assuming he could not speak English, which is unlikely. But the again, from my years in China, they will pretend they have difficulty and bring an interpreter no matter how good their English is.


      • He did apologise for his lack of english and yes he did have an interpreter with him but I am performing the role of the local expert. But trying to be convincing and to impress a client, you would need to perform. Its like acting a part in a Broadway stage. It is rather difficult to give a top Broadway acting performance with the stop and start of a translation intermediary.


  9. I take a very different perspective on this.

    New Zealanders’ poor command of Mandarin and Chinese is partly how we got in the “magic weapons” mess in the first place. Much of Dr. Brady’s report is mostly a simple collation of Chinese language sources into English. it’s striking how much we don’t know simply because our media and politicians don’t know Chinese.

    Whatever you think of Huo in particular, these sorts of gestures to promote Chinese language week should be encouraged because we really need to better understand what’s going on in Chinese, in order to follow Dr. Brady’s ‘eyes wide open approach.

    On a different note, as a one time believer, even if Christ is no longer explicitly referenced, it felt good to see the prayer in Mandarin as a simple confirmation the gospel knows no cultural bounds.


  10. Interesting angle.

    I guess I’m less convinced (altho having nothing at all against people learning Chinese). Most of the issues, in a NZ context, are pretty visible in English or from credible NZers (including Prof Brady, or Jamil Anderlini Asia editor of the FT) with good Chinese language skills. And the reluctance to deal with Jian Yang now is about political choice, values and (on the other hand) money, all stuff that takes no language skills.

    I guess I’d be more supportive of a “know your enemy” week, in which people across the political spectrum took the opportunity to speak out openly about the sort of threats the PRC regime poses (instead of keeping quiet, in closed seminar rooms or public sector bureaucracies). I’n being a little too flippant of course, and I have no problem at all with our educational establishment promoting general foreign language education for those interested, but that is different from buying into an initiative led by a dreadful foreign govt.

    I think how we got into this is a funny mix of delusion about China opening up and freeing up (for which there may have been some warrant a decade or more ago) and the ludicrous perspective of people like Tim Groser, John Key (and prob those on the left too) that all that matters is trade, not values, not the integrity of our political system, not the freedoms of people in China, and so on.


    • You talk about the “freedoms of people in China”, so I take it some part of your motivation here is genuine moral concern for their welfare and for us here in New Zealand to do right by them – which I guess, at the least, means “first do no harm”. Having had many personal and professional acquaintances, friends, and colleagues from China, that really motivates my own perspective, concern for the welfare of people in China motivates my own interest in this, too.

      And I suppose my perspective when considering what that concern means is one of giving a lot of regard to the attitudes of my acquaintances, friends, colleagues from China. They’re not government sycophants or lackeys; a few have been Party members, but most have not. To give you a range of the opinions held by these individuals, I was very curious about people’s reactions to Xi Jinping’s term limit removal early this year, and they generally against it, ranging from outrage to indifference, with one or two cautiously suggesting it might be the right thing for the country. Of all the China-originating people I’ve talked to, in spite of their range of attitudes, few have an attitude toward the government as fundamentally lacking in legitimacy, in spite of its real problems. All have at least a baseline level of appreciation for their own culture and language. And so I can’t imagine a single person I know personally from China who would think it reasonable we’d reject a Chinese Language Week simply as some kind of moral stand for their freedom because it was being funded or promoted by the PRC.

      So as a result, I don’t think you have to jettison your values or actual concern for the people of China to believe that engaging China, at least on language, is a good idea. It would seem a bit absurd, to me, to go around criticising Chinese language promotion by the PRC in the supposed interests of a bunch of people who’d be personally quite happy with it.

      My only hesitation in all of this is that in the PRC, it is definitely a minority of individuals whose rights are really being harmed. Most people benefit from the regime; as you know, it’s certain religious and ethnic minorities and human rights campaigners who suffer the most. I have to acknowledge within those minority groups, there are a few who’d take the same staunchly oppositional attitude toward the PRC government that you do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting comments again. I guess I don’t think of Chinese language week as having anything to do with the interests of ethnic Chinese New Zealanders as (mostly) new New Zealanders. It is primarily about the PRC government trying to advance its political and cultural interests in NZ – about non ethnic Chinese NZers – which is (and clearly should be) a quite different matter. I have no problem with private bodies wanting to advance particular cultural or linguistic interests. If some group wants to promote Arabic week or Hindi week, or Xhosa week good luck to them, in the same way various groups come up with such-and-such a day or year (my favourite a while ago was Interational Year of the Potato), but it (a) should be seen for what it is when a totalitarian foreign govt is behind any such movement, and (b) shouldn’t be aided and abetted by our government or Parliament. There is no need for it to be.

        Re the point about many Chinese probably being not uncomfortable with the regime, the same went for the Nazi era (in fact I’ve just been reading this book on exactly that point ), and as Bob notes below the specific repressions in that era fell on particular minority groups (and anyone who spoke up), which made them no less evil. I’d dispute that the regime has been good for most Chinese – recall how badly Chinese living stds lag behind those in Taiwan, KOrea, Japan, Singapore – but not that many will feel (and are) much better off than they were a few decades ago when the regime was overseeing the deaths of tens of millions or the chaos/destruction/repression of the Cultural Revolution.


      • Entirely agree, Michael, and I mentioned minorities in China as a way to qualify my comment and express hesitation and would not want to dismiss minorities who have their rights under attack.

        I also didn’t mean to say China is better under the PRC. I do mean to claim people from China I know don’t hate their government so much they’d want us to dismiss any government attempt to promote their language and culture.

        I think over the period from the 1980s to 2017 it felt easy for me to think the current government were moving in the right direction at least. Since the advent of mass internment camps and alleged cultural genocide in Xinjiang and the term limit removal I am starting to wonder how long we can cooperate with that government before we’re complicit in their crimes.

        Liked by 1 person

    • We are clearly drifting that way. The point of the post was, in many respects, to draw a distinction between our legal status (independent democracy with a proud heritage), and the way our MPs are (mostly carelessly, some actively and deliberately) selling that out for some sort of mess of potage. We need to push back before it is too late, and we clearly can’t look to existing politicians or political parties for that.

      Liked by 1 person

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