The China Council disgrace themselves and shame us

It is only a couple of weeks since the (largely) taxpayer-funded New Zealand China Council, which in its Annual Report –  signed off presumably by the heads of MFAT and NZTE (who sit on the Board) – was recently deploring what it regards as the “unedifying debate” about the extent of foreign (PRC) influence in New Zealand, was out in public with this lament

The New Zealand China Council is disappointed to learn plans for Huawei’s involvement in the development of Spark’s 5G network have been put on hold.

It didn’t seem to bother them that our intelligence services might have had serious concerns about threats to New Zealand’s national security. No, the bother seemed to be that a PRC company, under the thumb of the party/State (as all PRC companies are by law), had had it plans frustrated.   Surely, an outfit that had the interests of New Zealand and its people first and foremost would have been pleased to hear that any such threats was being stymied?   But then it has never really been clear whose interests the China Council, and its Board and staff, serve.  No doubt at least the public servants involved try to tell themselves they are really working in the interests of New Zealanders –  by pandering to Bejing at every opportunity –  and as for the rest of them (business people, MPs) why would they greatly care about New Zealand interests when personal interests are advanced by using taxpayers’ money in an attempt to keep the population quiet and Beijing happy?  We are told that both MPs, for example, have close ties to the PRC Embassy and to various PRC United Front bodies.  Jian Yang goes further than that –  not only a former PRC intelligence official and a Communist Party member, but he seems to spend inordinate amounts of his time –  paid as a New Zealand MP –  in some mix of business and propaganda in the PRC (in league with his party president Peter Goodfellow).

These people seem to have no values, represent no moral perspective, that might underpin New Zealand and its freedom and political system. They seem to act as if the PRC is just another normal country. More likely, of course, they know it isn’t and yet they just don’t care. There are deals to be done, donations to flow. And in the China Council’s case, our taxes are paying for it.

But what caught my eye over the weekend were a couple of tweets from the China Council’s Executive Director, former diplomat, Stephen Jacobi.  It is a personal account, but when you are the chief executive there is no credible distinction.

I’m no great fan of Destiny Church or Brian Tamaki, but in this single tweet Jacobi diminishes himself even further.   A New Zealand citizen, keen to have a programme he is promoting run in prisons –  but who hadn’t even got round to applying for funding/permission –  represents a threat apparently far exceeding that of the People’s Republic of China.  Yeah right.

Whether it is the theft of intellectual property, the intimidation of Anne-Marie Brady, the threats to ethnic Chinese New Zealanders (and the attempts to divide their loyalties), the way in which our political system is compromised by donation flows from people with close PRC associations, the presence in Parliament of Jian Yang (in particular) and Raymond Huo – neither of whom has ever uttered a public word critical of one of the worst regimes on the planet –  the presence of PRC-government funded workers (selected for political loyalty/reliability) in our school classrooms, the partnerships our universities have formed with this regime, and the way they’ve exposed themselves to economic pressure and threats from the regime, the way our mayors (and MPs) seem to fall over themselves to associate with the PRC, or a Leader of the Opposition who seems not to like non-binding agreements except when they aspire to fusing civilisations with the PRC (it was his signature on the BRI agreement last year)……and that’s just some of the stuff at home, let alone what they do in other countries and to their own people.   The PRC is, quite simply, consequential in a way that Destiny Church is unlikely ever to be, even in New Zealand. And, of course, Jacobi knows all this, but he has a job to do….and never mind about the facts or the threats.

The previous tweet –  actually retweeted –  on Jacobi’s feed was perhaps equally telling about how the powers that be in New Zealand see things

The Confucius Institutes, part of the PRC government’s worldwide programme attempting to influence opinion in their favour (or at least neutralise it) –  instruments of PRC foreign policy,  hosted and highlighted by the New Zealand consulate in Chengdu (where these people who labour for Beijing were visiting for the worldwide conference of the Confucius Institute movement).  I guess it is a bit confusing when your former senior official, Tony Browne, former New Zealand Ambassador to China, now sits on the global advisory board for the Confucius programme, advancing Beijing’s interests (while helping run training programmes for rising Communist Party officials).  The Newsroom article this morning on some of these issues is worth reading.

(I guess MFAT has form in these area. I’ve just been reading Anne-Marie Brady’s book about Rewi Alley and was struck –  if perhaps not surprised –  by the way New Zealand government’s were attempting to use that shameless fellow traveller and apologist, who openly defended and championed the PRC through the worst of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, to advance their dealings with a vile regime –  the same party, same regime as now, just better suits and better technology.)

How much better for our taxes to be used to expose New Zealand kids, and New Zealand citizens, to the nature of the regime which, in sheer brutality and suppression of human freedoms, must now rank among the very worst we’ve seen?  But I guess that might disrupt the trade opportunities of the people on the China Council’s boards.  Deals might not go through, donations might be interrupted.  Well, frankly, values are things for which you are willing to pay a price. And it isn’t clear that China Council has any such values – and none of them ever utter any.

Are these people any worse than our political “leaders”?  Perhaps not –  although probably no elected politician would be quite as crass as Mr Jacobi –  but that is a standard so low, it is barely even worth considering.

At a personal level, Mr Jacobi appears to be a Christian himself.  This appeared on his Twitter account yesterday

There probably aren’t many Anglicans in the PRC, but I’m sure Mr Jacobi is well aware of the mounting campaign by Xi Jinping to domesticate, sinify, and (preferably) eliminate religion – Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or whatever – from China.  When the largest country in the world adopts that sort of approach –  not just around religion – it is a threat to us all.   As another more famous Anglican once put it

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

I’ve recently subscribed to a newsletter, Bitter Winter, from an Italian think tank on religious freedom (or lack of it) in the PRC.  These, perhaps, are the sort of evils our universities willingly partner with.   This is the sort of stuff our officials and politicians simply ignore.  But then these are the same people who disgrace themselves singing from the Party songbook about “vocational training” in Xinjiang.

That’s religious freedom.  Then there is political freedom (lack thereof), freedom of speech, freedom from surveillance, the rule of law, and so on. Not one of these the PRC has, or even claims to aspire to.  And yet MFAT, our politicians, and the China Council –  all funded by tax dollars – seem content to treat the PRC as a normal country, run by basically decent people, rather than as an evil regime with no moral core, a regime from which every decent person should keep their distance, and a regime which every decent person should avoid putting themselves in the thrall, and under the threat, of.

It isn’t even as if there is the excuse of novelty –  Nazi Germany was five years old in 1938, not 69 years old.   We know very well what the PRC regime is like –  even those who defend it know, even if they prefer to pretend otherwise. We could (and should) choose a distant and formal relationship –  if your firm wants to deal with Beijing, don’t expect help from the government –  but instead the deals and donations seemed to have warped any sense of decency, in ways that would have been unimaginable 45 years ago when New Zealand was first establishing diplomatic ties with the PRC.



25 thoughts on “The China Council disgrace themselves and shame us

  1. Great to be at the China’s New Tourists:NZ and the Year of Chinese Tourism Conference. Tourism is NZ’s largest export market and China the second largest source of tourists to NZ.@nzccrc
    Yes, jobs for Chinese.


    • Unfortunately, one of the definitions of a skill that employers require is now a 2nd language preferably Chinese. This in effect passes one of Immigration NZ tests of eligibility ie no Kiwis available to apply for that position.


  2. Mountain Scene (The voice of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce) is down-playing <blockquote"bus-loads of them walking around the Queenstown CBD, sometimes behind a guide holding up a red flag.

    The commonly-held belief is they’re walking between Chinese-owned restaurants and shops before hopping back on Chinese-operated buses to go to their Chinese-owned hotels.

    but there is no slow down in Chinese owned and driven buses coming on stream.

    Our government will have to find something else to crow about.


    • Perhaps it is the GST and PAYE to service a $17 billion tourist and international student market. GST and PAYE represents 70% of the governments revenue. Makes plenty of dollars and sense. Makes more dollars and sense than 10 million cows of which farmers contribute less than 5% of the tax revenue.


  3. I was just reading this account of China’s ‘hurt feelings’ about the arrest of the Huawei CFO in Canada.

    The comment by former Canadian Ambassador to China, David Mulroney, was refreshingly blunt:

    “The ability to talk about free trade will be put in the ice box for a while. But we’re going to have to live with that. That’s the price of dealing with a country like China,”

    Nice that someone is willing to pay some price for dealing with China like adults, and not sycophants.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Poor lady CFO is a just a patsy pawn. Don’t know of too many CFOs that have direct responsibility over company decisions. CFOs usually just point out issues and concerns for CEO and Board of Directors to consider and then write up the books.

      The US knows that she is more a warning shot to rattle the Chinese cages. It would upset them but it would not elicit an all out war.


      • Short version: you are wrong.

        Long version:

        “Ms. Meng had “direct involvement” with Huawei’s representations to banks, said John Gibb-Carsley, an attorney with Canada’s Justice Department.”


        “At the time, Ms. Meng arranged a meeting with an executive from one of the financial institutions, he said. During the meeting, she spoke through an English interpreter and presented PowerPoint slides in Chinese, saying that Huawei operated in Iran in strict compliance with United States sanctions. Ms. Meng explained that Huawei’s engagement with Skycom was part of normal business operations and that Huawei had sold the shares it once held in Skycom.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • As I am headed for Las Vegas for my Xmas and New Year holidays and do not want to be detained at US Customs and locked up with Huawei CFO, it is best I say that the US was acting correctly and within international law.


      • A Chinese court has banned the sale and import of most iPhone models in a stunning decision amid the trade war between the United States and China.

        The ban does not cover the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XR, which were not yet available when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit. The phones covered by the ban make up about 10% to 15% of current iPhone sales in China.

        Looks like China is using any legal excuse to up the ante. Interesting that this is a legal IP issue between two US companies though.


      • “As I am headed for Las Vegas for my Xmas and New Year holidays and do not want to be detained at US Customs and locked up with Huawei CFO,”

        Your nonsense doesn’t likely meet any legal standard of fraud, so I’m sure you’re fine. And she’s being held in Canada.


      • A Hong Kong company not owned by Huawei for some years now and has its own banks accounts and its own managers and a separate CFO operating quite separate from Huawei and banks that allows funds to be transferred to Iran is somehow connected to Huawei’s CFO somehow meets any standard legal definition of bank fraud? Sounds rather like Trumped up charges.


  4. Your comments remind me of a speech Winston Churchill gave in 1938, warning of the dangers of fascism. The speech is well worth reading as it applies frighteningly well in our own time.

    “You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. On all sides they are guarded by masses of armed men, cannons, aeroplanes, fortifications, and the like – they boast and vaunt themselves before the world, yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home – all the more powerful because forbidden – terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?”

    Liked by 5 people

    • Rather than surrounded by bayonets it would be more apt to be piles of cash. China is buying support from those willing to sell. When you see how many of our ex politicians and bureaucrats have their noses in the PRC filled trough you have to wonder at what point they shifted their allegiance from us to them.

      Sadly I think it is early in their career. You do not need to look far back in history to find a time when such behaviour would be called out and treated as treasonous. Now, selling your position of influence to either business or foreign powers seems the norm. Even the Press has no inclination to condone such actions.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I must say I was rather sad at the news but rather impressed with the speed in which our police has managed to obtain CCTV footage and track a murder victim’s movement from SkCity to CityLife hotel. Locate the room and conduct a forensic examination to conclude that a murder had been committed, identify a person of interest from a dating App(without the victims phone) and subsequently change that to murder suspect based on the hotel room forensic, and track down the vehicle used in the transfer of the murder victim to 300km away in Queenstown and the body remains in a desolate area in the Waitakere Ranges, track down, arrest and charge the murder suspect within less than 7 days.

    Perhaps our survellience of our own citizens is far more advanced than most of us can imagine?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks again Michael. I believe it was the same in 1930s Britain. Hitler had many admirers among the British establishment and many politicians would have happily signed a “peace” agreement to give Hitler free reign in Europe so long as Britain kept its empire. And this week Teresa May will be putting an agreement to the British Parliament that traps Britain in the EU dystopia in perpetuity and separates Northern Island from the rest of the UK. As always, “follow the money”. People of character, principles and foresight are very rare and particularly so in today’s New Zealand. But it is crucial to keep these issues to the forefront.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It may be Mr Jacobi’s relative (wife?) who is the present vicar of St Matthews, a church at the socially liberal end of the Anglican spectrum.

    Either way, your point about religious oppression in the PRC is well made, and one that I’d have thought would have troubled most Christians. It is ironic that Mr Jacobi finds Destiny church something to fear, while presumably viewing the PRC as benign?

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Thank you Michael. Associating the PRC with fascism is entirely appropriate; persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, aggressive imperialism (overt and covert), direct government monitoring and control of individuals, state control of industry, commerce and finance, large and increasing military and now a dictator for life.
    There is now no real argument, China is the very definition of a fascist state and it’s a good one to bring up in discussion. The notion that China is a benign, Marxist entity run by the people for the people is still, unfortunately, quite common. The left, having only a very loose connection with objective reality, need to wake up to what’s going on. The F word will have them choking on their mung beans but let them try and refute it.
    Interesting consequence of the suppression of religion is the increasing proclivity to institute direct (micro managed) control of the people’s morality – see China’s new social credit system.
    The worst tyrants and murderers of the twentieth century were all anti-theist. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot with hundreds of millions dead and unimaginable suffering. I prefer to take my guidance from reality, from God, thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The China council is actively campaigning for us to turn a blind eye to Chinese influence. Don McKinnon, chair of the NZCC, spinning in today’s Herald.

    ” In the absence of more substantive evidence, attention has turned to donations made to New Zealand political parties by New Zealanders of Chinese descent. It is an extraordinary leap of logic from a donation to a political party made by a New Zealand citizen – as citizens have every right to do – to the Chinese Government meddling in our affairs.

    The fact that these New Zealand citizens retain largely honorary connections in the country of their birth is hardly proof of a more sinister intent, especially in a country of the size and complexity of China, but it is a handy way of sensationalising the issue………………………………………………… light of the recent decision in respect of Huawei. The substance of the decision is not for me to debate, but the risk is that it complicates the already complex management of the trade and economic relationship at a time of geopolitical tension.”


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