The PRC, the Pacific, and New Zealand

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister gave an interesting speech in Washington last weekend.  It was a bit saccharine and ahistorical (past rivalries over various Pacific island and atolls anyone?) for my tastes, but the overall thrust –  urging the United States to be more active in the (south?) Pacific  – wasn’t something I much disagreed with.

The People’s Republic of China wasn’t named as a threat, but it didn’t take a genius to see the connection.  I remain somewhat sceptical that simply offering bigger “bribes” (call it development assistance if you want) is any way to build a more resilient Pacific in the medium-term.  That has to come down to values, domestic accountability (hardly likely to be fostered when lots of money is in play) and a recognition of the fundamentally evil, and corrosive, nature of the PRC regime –  whose values are as antithetical to most ordinary Pacific people, just as much as they are to most ordinary New Zealanders.   The short-sightedness (and greed?) of too many officeholders in Pacific countries is a formidable obstacle, their vanity flattered (for example) by invites to Beijing, even to meet Xi Jinping himself, whether or not their own pockets are lined.  These are mostly Christian countries, and yet when the Foreign Minister talked about the Pacific the other day there was nothing about values, nothing (for example) about freedom of religion, at time when the Beijing regime is intensifying its repression and persecution of Muslims and of Christians.   The sort of thing that would horrify most decent people (here or in the Pacific) if they knew –  as, for example, Kristallnacht did 80 years ago.  Values, not competitive aid bidding, drive societal choices in the longer term.

To the extent the speech had much attention at all locally –  which is hardly at all (has there been any thoughtful commentary from international affairs or Pacific specialists?) –  it has been on the extraordinary statement by the Prime Minister that she had not seen the speech before it was given.    It looked a lot like a significant foreign policy initiative, and yet it appeared not to have been discussed by the Cabinet. If anyone wanted evidence for Chris Trotter’s suggestion that the Prime Minister was in office but not in power, more decorative than substantive, it was hard to imagine a better example.  It looks like yet another example where there is a New Zealand First policy in some foreign affairs matter, but not necessarily a stance shared by the biggest party in government Labour.   After all, in her post-Cabinet press conference (link above) the Prime Minister was hardly offering a ringing endorsement of her Foreign Minister’s stance.   For practical purposes, they can probably both agree on flinging a bit of money around, with not much accountability, but perhaps not much beyond that.

And even if they happened to (more or less) agree on the Pacific –  and what will it come to anyway, in a US led by an inconstant troubled President, and with increasingly serious fiscal problems of its own? –  one area where Labour and New Zealand First must agree in practice is on doing and saying quite as little as possible about the PRC influence activities in New Zealand.  Some months ago, Winston Peters did make some cryptic remarks about how “something would be done” about Jian Yang, but it wasn’t clear if he meant anything then and (of course) it has come to nothing since (the Minister of Foreign Affairs doesn’t have much say over an Opposition MP).     Both seem more embarrassed by, than admiring of, Anne-Marie Brady –  in her case, it is hard not to reach the conclusion that the government (Parliament as a whole in fact) would much prefer that she went away and shut up, and stopped raising awkward questions.   Neither has been willing to call out the PRC over the Xinjiang internment camps –  not even joining with many of old friends when they got together to make representations.  They wouldn’t even speak up when National’s Todd McClay was parroting Beijing’s talking points about “vocational training centres” or –  in a country with still more self-identified Christians than any other faith –  about the renewed persecutions of the Chinese churches.  They seem quite unbothered about allowing such a heinous regime to put (safely vetted for political and religous “soundness”) agents of the PRC –  nice and friendly as they may be individually –  in our kids’ schools.  And has a word been heard from the Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign Affairs about the PRC’s abductions of Canadians in China?  Do we stand with our friends, our values?  Or do we just cower before the PRC?  Peters and Ardern (and Bridges and Shaw) show all the signs of the latter approach.

So they fling all the money they like around the Pacific.  Perhaps if they do so Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo will take them a bit more seriously.  But unless they are willing to start taking seriously the issues here at home –  and there is not a shred of evidence for any such change of heart –  it isn’t clear why any of us should take them as seriously worthy of the offices they hold.  Through some mix of fear, delusion, mendicancy (all those party donations) they’ve taken our values, our traditions, and prostituted them on some CCP altar.  Egged on –  if anything more enthusiastically –  by the National Party.

If they were ever interested in beginning to get serious, political donations might be a place to start.   And on that score, I was interested to listen to outgoing National MP Chris Finalyson’s valedictory address.   I’ve never been a great fan of Finlayson – a classic example of what is wrong with MMP, never having had to actually win an election or persuade people to vote for him –  but my view of him took a steep dive at the Rongotai candidates’ meeting last year (Finlayson was the token National Party candidate).   From the floor I asked him

“Mr Finlayson, last week one of the world’s leading newspapers, the Financial Times gave considerable prominence to a story about a New Zealand MP.  That MP had been a member of the Chinese communist party, and part of the Chinese intelligence services.  He never disclosed that past to the public when he stood for Parliament, and has never taken the opportunity to denounce the evils of the Chinese regime.  Can you comment on why it is appropriate for such a person to be in our Parliament?  And could you also comment on the new paper by Professor Anne-Marie Brady raising concerns about the extent of China’s attempts to exert political influence in New Zealand, and about the close ties of various senior National Party figures with Chinese interests?”

The question was greeted not with embarrassed silence, but with pretty vigorous applause from the floor.

Finlayson –  our Attorney-General, first law officer of the land, senior National Party minister  – got up, briefly.   His answer ran roughly as follows:

“That was a Newsroom article, timed to damage the man politically.  I’m not going to respond to any of the allegations that have been made about/against him. I think it is disgraceful that a whole class of people have been singled out for racial abuse.  As for Professor Brady, I don’t think she likes any foreigners at all.”

The man dishonoured the high offices he held.   But, somewhat to my surprise, in his valedictory address, Finlayson included these remarks.

That’s why I think both major parties need to work together to review the rules relating to funding. I have a personal view that it should be illegal for non-nationals to donate to our political parties. Our political system belongs to New Zealanders, and I don’t like the idea of foreigners funding it. Similar concerns are now starting to be raised in other jurisdictions, and we need to work together, without recrimination, to ensure that our democracy remains our democracy”.

It is, mostly, illegal for non-nationals to donate material sums to our political parties.  I’d be happy to ban such donations completely, including those anonymous donations from abroad through the guise of charity auctions, of the sort Phil Goff funded his mayoral campaign with.    But, of course, many of the concerns serious people have about political donations –  in Australia, as well as in New Zealand –  do not relate to donations by non-nationals, but to donations by people born abroad who have become citizens, and yet retain close associations with reprehensible regimes in their country of birth (bluntly, the PRC).  I’m sceptical much can be done by law about that particular issue.  It requires political party leaders –  individually or together – to decide that there are some people they simply won’t take donations from at all.    There was a considerable fuss some years ago about the Exclusive Brethren.  No respectable party would take donations from known gang leaders or those strongly suspected of involvement in organised crime.  It shouldn’t be hard –  in a decent leader –  to make the moral choice that your party will take no donations from people with known (or strongly suspected) United Front associations.  It is what decent people would do, recognising the character of the PRC regime.

So, interesting as it was that Finlayson chose to raise the issue at all, his interjection barely scratched the surface of the issue.   But it was a (small) start from a figure who has enjoyed credibility in many circles.   Perhaps he could consider urging candidates in this year’s local body elections to commit to (a) take no donations (including through anonymous charity auctions) from non-New Zealand citizens, and (b) to take no donations even from citizens if those citizens have, or are strongly suspected to have, close ties with entities supporting highly repressive regimes in other countries.   Would it make any difference?  Probably not –  money can still be channelled less directly –  but it would be a signal to New Zealanders that their officeholders (and those bidding to take their place) took seriously the issue, the concern.    At worst, it would be interesting to hear how Phil Goff would defend refusing to make such a commitment to voters.

On another aspect of the PRC influence issue, a few weeks ago I was sent a copy of a book called “In the Jaws of the Dragon: How China is Taking Over New Zealand and Australia”, by one Ron Asher.   It is a 350 page book, apparently fairly well-documented and footnoted, now on its 5th edition (and so I’m told selling quite well) making a case that…….well, it is there in the title.   From the author’s note

This book…seeks to expose the sinister goals of the Communist government of China, which has murdered tens of millions of Chinese people since it shot its way to power in 1949, denies them basic rights and is now threatening the peace of the Pacific –  and the world –  by its excessive armaments programme and its expansionist activities in the South China Sea.  Through economic domination, aggressive immigration, bullying and other means it is trying to exert a control over Australia and New Zealand that is harmful to our sovereignty, democracy, heritage and economic prospects for the future.

There was plenty of interesting material in the book, and it was useful to have it gathered in one place.  It was interesting to learn of (former National) MP Jami-Lee Ross’s paid trips to the PRC –  which left me wondering (a) how many other MPs have had such trips, and (b) why we don’t just follow the US example and ban MPs taking any material hospitality from foreign governments, friendly or potentially hostile/threatening.   There was plenty of material –  including around Confucius Institutes (this week yet another US university decided to close theirs down), Huawei, and “aid” to various Pacific countries.

And yet much of the material had me pushing back to some extent at least.   The author is much more wary of foreign investment from the PRC than I am.  To be fair, the global tide of opinion on risks around PRC corporate investment abroad is shifting –  reinforced by the PRC laws which make it clear that even private PRC companies must follow directions of the PRC authorities (party/State).   And weak capital markets disciplines in China –  especially around SOEs –  have long left me a little nervous about any material expansion in the role of PRC banks.  It would seem crazy  –  simply an unnecessary risk, given the character of the regime – to allow, for example, our electricity or telecoms network companies to be owned or controlled by PRC-friendly interest.  I hope that when a stake in the Port of Napier is sold no one will even consider a sale to PRC interests –  port acquisitions have been a significant aspect of PRC strategy abroad in recent years, perhaps benefiting the sellers but leave societies to repent at leisure.

But I’m still not persuaded the sale of dairy farms to PRC interests, or the establishment of PRC-owned milk processing plants in New Zealand represents any material sort of threat to New Zealand, or New Zealanders.    The author notes that the (PRC) buyer will reap the profits in future, including from the ability to construct integrated supply and distribution chains.  But in a land market that is even moderately competitive, much of those gains should be captured in the value of the land at the point of sale.  Within limits, it makes sense for assets to be owned by parties best able to utilise them.  That ability is likely to be reflected in a willingness to pay.   Perhaps I’m a touch naive, but some arguments still seem to go too far for my comfort and conviction.  The growing entanglement of our universities with PRC interests –  consciously making themselves exposed to PRC political pressure –  represents more of a risk, and pressure point –  the more so  when we once looked to universities to champion the sorts of values that underpinned our society (but not the PRC).

This isn’t an attempt at a full review.  For those interested in the issue though, there is plenty to chew on, whether one ends up going quite as far as the author (or not).   Perhaps the thing I came away with most was a sense of how careless of our values our political leaders have been, how indifferent to the character of the Beijing regime, and how utterly shortsighted their approach has been for decades –  whether pursuing personal gain (which I suspect mostly isn’t the reason –  it may be different for business and academic figures), party donations, or just lemming-like prioritising trade and short-term opportunities over all.

Whatever the motive, in many respects they’ve blithely, unconcernedly, sold out New Zealand and New Zealanders, dishonouring both our own freedoms and values, and those (denied) of hundreds of millions of Chinese.   But even at this point, it isn’t clear that the PRC has clout in New Zealand beyond the deference our political officeholders –  cowering –  keep choosing (and it is wholly a matter of choice, especially at this physical distance) to pay them.   Evil people –  Xi Jinping and his party and regime – will do what they will do, as Hitler or Stalin before them did.  We can’t do much about them –  hoping against hope for regime change –  but we can choose what responses we tolerate in our officeholders.    If we care at all about PRC influence in the Pacific, our officeholders might start by demonstrating that they take the issue –  the regime and its threat – seriously at home.  What matters to someone is best demonstrated by the price they are willing to pay for it.


47 thoughts on “The PRC, the Pacific, and New Zealand

  1. A third Canadian has been detained in China. David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said it would be highly unusual if the third arrest is a coincidence. “It’s possible but I find it unlikely,” he said.

    Mulroney said it would be a problem for Canada and China. “One detention is bad enough. Two is terrible. Three underlines how ruthless China can be,” he said. “It serves as a reminder for people that China is a detention state.”

    The fun and games begin. Lets see if the Chinese can detain 10 Canadians as a mere coincidence.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for your continued attention to this topic. It does make one despair of our political parties. Your line about Hon Chris Finlayson shows that politicians do have personal thoughts Pity they choose to sacrifice them to the party line until their valedictory speeches.

    One change I’d like to see everything to be a conscience vote, instead of nearly everything being seen as a confidence vote in the government. Sure the whips would have less to do and less would get “done”, but IMO the problem with most politicians is they want to “do things”. How many improvements have all the changes of the last 30 years actually made to our society? Lower educational attainment (if more, arguably degraded tertiary education), more violence, fractionally lower murder rates, increased burglary rates, increased relationship breakdown.

    I want to see an analysis of the counterfactual to all major reforms, because I don’t buy that governments actually make much of a difference on the whole, except when they stuff up major “reforms”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mostly I’d echo your thoughts. Especially when I look at the Facebook site for Auckland North Shore history and it shows numerous picture of the local beaches from 30 years ago. However if nothing had changed in the last 30 years then I’d probably be dead of a heart attack and the cancer that killed my wife’s sister 20 years ago would have killed her 2 years ago and the holiday this year to celebrate our being alive involving flights to Europe that cost less than 5 weeks superannuation would have been hard to afford. I’ll save you the bother of pointing out that the actions of NZ govts for the last 30 years had little effect on those beneficial changes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The South Pacific has received billions in aid over the years with little to show for it. Pacific leaders have become very adept at playing off donors against each other. They no doubt welcome China’s involvement as a means of getting everyone to raise their bids. It’s a very difficult environment in which to make any progress. My own view is that we should concentrate on developing the Pacific’s human capital by offering liberal opportunities for education in New Zealand.

    I am concerned by Chinese farm purchases because of the model they have pursued elsewhere, especially in Africa and South America. These properties become China’s “overseas farms” in perpetuity. Their main role is to contribute to China’s food security goals. Chinese managers and staff are brought in and locals are excluded from all but the most menial jobs. Most of the value of their production is captured by China, not the host country. It’s colonialism – how ironic.

    As for reforms in New Zealand, I think it will take a major scandal or threat to wake our politicians up, if ever. The future does not look promising.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Aid to pacific nations has made a difference. I know comments about PNG govt usually and deservedly involve ‘noses’ and ‘troughs’ but PNG is producing a middle class and that is the only class that leads to decent government. Govt aid has helped PNG in many ways and I agree with you it is mainly by investing in human capital. The ideal aid would be exchanges – NZ police to PI and their police to come to NZ to learn modern methods etc. There is a danger that NZ and Australia will simply strip PI countries of their exceptional talent.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fair to say that the book left me more uneasy than I had been about PRC investments here. But, at least logically, immigration and staffing issues should be separate from ownership. If they aren’t in practice, that is a choice NZ govts make, and could unmake – if they had any will whatever.

      Entirely agree with your final para.


  4. There are big middle classes in many deeply corrupt countries, including the PRC.

    But I share your concern about talent stripping.

    My bias more generally is that the benefits of aid are overstated, partly because such inflows tend to overvalue the real exchange rate, making consumption cheaper and internationally competitive production harder. But here I’m not going to debate whether or not there should be aid at all, just the likelihood that the marginal gains from big new dollops of aid – pursuing geopolitical goals, rather than small disciplined outcomes – are likely to be positive. Even if there are net economic gains, the political processes of some of these countries may be further corrupted.


    • A middle class certainly doesn’t produce or even maintain a decent govt; Syria had a well educated middle class; closer to me Northern Island had two middle classes: Catholic & Protestant. Countries without a middle class in our modern world cannot thrive: Haiti, Yemen, etc.

      I share your skepticism about foreign aid. It is an easy pot to be stolen from so actually rewards corrupt politicians and it is too tempting for donor countries to get it spent back in the donor country. So Chinese infrastructure is built by chinese labourers when it would be doubly benefical if it developed local workers. Australia’s large rice industry is dependant on PNG consumers so Australia is unlikely to ever assist in developing a PNG rice industry. NZ sponsors PNG students to study in NZ – there are probably 50 to 100 PNG university students studying in Waikato and Auckland but they might be better studying in North Qld so they could more easily keep in touch with home.

      If the aid budget was in my control I would be targetting joint projects where both NZ and receiving country work together: exchanges of staff would work in Police, Corrections, Legal, tertiary education, media, fishing especially monitoring and tourism. We might get more tourists into NZ during winter if they stopped over in a warm Paciifc Island. Would the Reserve Bank benefit from an occasional PI economist?


  5. To compare the night of glass with Muslims in China shows some very basic misunderstanding of the facts. Germany blamed the loss of WW1 on the Jewish people. Their false belief grew to believe that WW2 was caused by the Jewish people. Germany thought if they could remove the Jewish people from their country and conquered territories they would create a paradise. China like a Marxists hate religion and you rightly address this but without understanding the facts. China want a utopia like the Germans but Muslims are completely different to the Jewish people ‘s belief and practice. The Chinese do understand the difference between Islam and Christianity. That is Islam creates a security treat to Chinese people through Islam’s teaching of world domination through the sword whereas Christianity is an ideological treat not a violent treat. Hence, addressing Islam which seeks to take over through force is very different to Christianity that puts God above communist dogma. The lack of understanding about Islam creates the most significant threat to any countries sovereignty. Lebanon for a recent example has dropped from near 80% Christian to about 15% in the last 20-30 years through Muslim violence. When the fundamentals of their system promote jihad as the highest act with the second the takeover of non- Muslim countries and that non-Muslim women are too be taken as sex slaves (see Europe as a recent example) and Muslim women are worth half a Muslim man with girls being eligible for sexual activity in marriage at nine years old and the reason Muslim women are covered from head to toe was so Muhammad’s second in command could distinguish Muhammad’s wives from his sex slaves so he could rape them. Non-Muslim women only need to be covered from the waist down. So it is common sense the Chinese deal with Islam.
    Good recent books on the facts of Islam are by Robert spencer such as Jihad from Muhammad to ISIS.


      • A million people are said to have died of hunger in Ireland in the late 1840s, on the doorstep of the world’s richest nation, Britain, and some two million emigrated in a period of a little more than a decade (1845-55). Its effects were severely worsened by the actions and inactions of the Whig government, headed by Lord John Russell

        Perhaps rather than imprisonment and re-education, starvation and death would be a better ultimate solution?


      • ANd (a) I think you will find few defenders of the British govt’s handling of that (or, indeed, of the Bengal famine), and (b) Lord John Russell is long dead, while Xi Jinping is very much and in power, and wreaking evil in China and attempting it abroad. Powerful states will do what they will do, deliberately or as a matter of indifference/carelessness, but I take it you aren’t suggesting decent people should have sat quietly by in the 1840s and said nothing?


      • I guess if the Uighur muslims get involved in violent bombing in decent peoples homes, decent people may not be that keen to raise a whisper. Recent bombing incidents by Uighur muslims include the 1992 Urumqi bombings,the 1997 Ürümqi bus bombings, the 2010 Aksu bombing, the 2011 Hotan attack, 2011 Kashgar attacks and the 2014 Ürümqi attack.


      • Not an expert but I would defend the British Empire over the Bengal famine. In 1770 it was the East India company in charge. The later famine in 1943 could have been diminished by using military transport to move food but it was kept for fighting Japan. I’ve little doubt the British bureaucrats left in India would have been incompetent with the more dynamic transferred to the war effort. Maybe a neutral view of the British Empires decisions and inaction over this famine (over 2m died and there are few worse ways to die than by starvation) would be delivered by historians from countries that were invaded by Japan: Philippines, Thailand, China, Malaya. Note famines in India continued for 20 years after independence – the American scientists who developed new high yielding species of rice have never been sufficiently thanked.

        If you want an example of corrupt self interest by the British Empire try reading about the 1st opium war. It was criticised in the UK at the time but money being made in China using preferential access to the media and the UK govt and Prime Minister resulted in an evil one sided war for an immoral purpose. The lesson of history is fairly clear – beware of powerful countries with compliant media and close ties to wealthy businessmen.


      • You are more generous to the Brits over the Bengal famine than what I’ve read would suggest was warranted (but I’m not expert either).

        A new history of the opium wars – for which there was really no excuse from the British side – is on my pile to read over the summer.

        (Says he who still thinks that in many ways the British Empire was a “good thing” – never sure how much that reflects British ancestry, how much the fact that I wouldn’t be sitting here in NZ otherwise, and how much detached analysis. But I will always recall a senior Zambian I worked with telling me – 30 years after Independence – that in his view the British left too soon.)


      • It must be time to read about the Bengal famine rather than make remarks about it. I share your mixed feelings about the British Empire and I have heard educated Papuans say similar about independence (from Australia). I think Hariri gets it right in his ‘Homo Sapiens’ – take too long to summarise but well worth reading. My own contribution to U3A last year was a ten minute lecture that said the 48 significant empires recorded by Wikipedia all had slaves and women owned by father and then husband – the difference with the British Empire was it eventually abolished slavery and gave women some rights and the vote.
        My feelings about emphasis on the war effort against Japan being influenced by my uncle who was a prisoner of war forced to work on the Thai/Burma railway. He survived. Similar conclusion about dropping Nuclear bombs – given the nature of that war president Truman had no choice.

        You realise that if we excuse the British Empire its excesses then it is harder to complain about China’s failures because it certainly has had successes and badly as it treats non-Han they are a small fraction of their population. Maybe the difference is the British Empire always had its vocal internal critics whereas China seems to be less tolerant of letting a hundred flowers blossom.


      • Thanks

        Re your final para, yes that thought has occurred to me. I guess one has to judge empires by their fruits. I’d rate the Belgian one as almost unmitigated evil.

        More generally, big powers will do what they will do. the rest of us have to decide how to respond. Good people will find ways to resist evil where they can. If I’d been Maori, I’d like to think I’d have pushed back against the British Empire – even with its relative beneficence, even with latter day NZ’s moderate prosperity, Maori have become a minority in their own land.


      • Agreeing with you about the Belgium Congo – the heart of Darkness. Studying Belgiums, Germans or even Han Chinese does not give any specific history of unusual brutality and certainly the British had no history of exceptional high morality. The lesson to be held to heart is that human beings are capable of evil especially when those in power are not challenged.

        There are societies that are more aggressive and violent than others. Living in Spitalfields the 85% Bengalis were generally peaceful whereas the 10% Somalis were tough. As a Bengali told me in admiration of Somali toughness when a small number of Somali school children had a conflict with a much larger gang of Bengalis they simply would not retreat even though they were bound to be beaten badly. The Japanese soldiers had no respect for non-Japanese and the Maori were aggressive compared to the Chatham Islanders. In North America the lesson learned is the peaceful native tribes are now extinct but some of the primative warlike tribes have survived.


  6. “there would be nothing to stop the PRC granting independence to xinjiang.”

    Similarly the NZ government should let the Tuhoe become self-governing. Nothing to stop them either. But we all know the vast overreaction that happened under a Labour government 10 years ago.

    And of course it would be a simple matter for the NZ government to return the seabed and foreshore to Maori – instead of outright confiscate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Fortunately most people around the world do not view the PRC in such a negative light.
      Particularly Russians, and Africans, and Latin Americans.”

      Give them some time. I think you may not be fully current on how China’s new economic colonialism is viewed in Africa and Latin America. And I would suggest that China-Russia collegiality has a certain Molotov-Ribbentrop element to it.


  7. The Chinese are evil and the West is awesome:

    *testing nuclear weapons over the homes of Pacific islanders, who have “endured burns that reached to the bone, forced relocation, nightmarish birth defects, cancers in the short and long term”

    * Blackbirding: “Indigenous persons of nearby Pacific islands or northern Queensland were recruited or coerced by blackbirding colonial Europeans. In the early days of the pearling industry in Western Australia at Nickol Bay and Broome, local Aborigines were blackbirded from the surrounding areas”

    *How NZ took influenza to Samoa, killing a fifth of its population

    *Terrorism: Rainbow Warrior

    *Tyrannical rule of Niue

    China has done none of the above. And has not compelled any country whatsoever to do what it does not want to do.


    • No country is without its past faults. Decent countries acknowledge their faults, learn from them, change ruling parties etc. One could cite Germany and (to a slightly lesser extent Japan). But your government is unashamed of its ongoing brutal repression, external aggression, and interference in this country. It is ruled by the same party responsible for the deaths of tens of millions in the Great Leap Forward, for the chaos and state-sponsored evil of the Cultural Revolution, and so on.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ….change ruling parties etc. One could cite Germany and (to a slightly lesser extent Japan).

        I think that was because they were defeated and in the latter case it took two atomic bombs.

        From 1949 to 1980 China did better than any other developing country in reducing mortality and raising life expectancy. The idea of tens of millions ‘killed’ is bogus. You are a numerate guy. Do some research and understand what is meant by ‘excess’ deaths.


      • And tragedy for the Chinese people, and the world, is that there has been no such transition in the PRC. Even the USSR made the transition and today’s Russia for all its fault is (a) less bad than the USSR and (b) not ruled by the same thugs.

        Re the Great Leap Forward I commend to other readers Frank Dikotter’s book, the results of which are summarised here.

        Incidentally, no one doubts PRC material living stds are better than they were, but as I’ve highlighted here previously it has been a feeble performance relative to various other east Asian economies large and small. One might cite free and democratic Taiwan – which has also made important transitions – as an example.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark: your link to mortality data for China from 1950 to 1980 is revealing, especially the two graphs. It drops from levels that were slightly worse than PNG before the foreigners arrived with metal. A great achievement in the first ten years and then during the ‘great leap forward’ the rates doubled and after a few years of that madness has improved to modern standards for developing countries.
        It teaches me two things: firstly how dedicated the early revolutionaries were and how successful their barefoot doctors were (a lesson to poor countries such as PNG where insisting on western qualifications has pushed medicine out of reach of the needy villager. Secondly how a totalitarian system with a crazy old man in charge can undo the good. If only the Chinese bureaucrats had been able to feed honest data back to Mao maybe he would have changed the policy before millions died (usual estimate is >45m).


    • Interesting to see the GCSB has attributed PRC government to sustained cyber attacks resulting in the theft of IP in NZ and around the world, despite undertaking in 2016 not to do such things. Defending a (currently) evil regime does you no credit.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The problem is we have seen this before. Its funny how much of the rhetoric from the PRC is extreme similar that spouted by the likes of imperial Japan in the 1930s, who much loved the term “Special Undeclared War” when referring to their occupation of China which is striking similar in world view behind the CCP’s “Magic Weapons”.


      • Tibet was always a part of China. There is absolutely no dispute about Tibet being part of China, and every country in the world acknowledges this, New Zealand included.

        Indeed Tibet was explicitly recognised as part of China by the US, well before the communist victory in 1949.

        The US position has consistently been that Tibet is a part of China, and not a separate country. New Zealand’s position is the same:


      • I”m always reluctant to use Wikipedia for these purposes but just as contextual background:

        It is generally agreed that China and Tibet were independent prior to the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368),[1] and that Tibet has been ruled by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1959.[2] The nature of Tibet’s relationship with China in the intervening period is a matter of debate. The PRC claims that Tibet has been a part of China since the Yuan dynasty.[3] The Republic of China (ROC) claimed that “Tibet was placed under the sovereignty of China” when the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) ended the brief Nepalese rule (1788-1792) from parts of Tibet in c. 1793.[4] The Tibetan Government in Exile claims that Tibet was an independent state until the PRC invaded Tibet in 1949/50.[5][6] Some Western scholars claim that Tibet and China were ruled by the Mongols during the Yuan dynasty,[7] that Tibet was independent during the Chinese Ming dynasty (1368–1644).[8] and that Tibet was ruled by China[9] or at the very least subordinate to the Qing[10] during much of the Qing dynasty.[11] Some Western scholars also claim that Tibet was independent from c. 1912 to 1950,[12] although it had extremely limited international recognition.[13]

        The views of governments are overly important in such matters. Ireland was universally recognise as part of the UK until it wasn’t, and the Baltic states were widely recognised as part of the USSR until they weren’t.


  8. I think the motive behind the servile approach taken by various NZers with regards to China, when not directly linked to economic factors, is explainable by the general cultural insecurity that has affected the Anglo New Zealand population since its beginning. This was first manifested in respect to the mother country – RP accents on TV and the best quality products being designated ‘export’. Somehow New Zealanders have never imagined that the best might be for them, or that New Zealand could chart its own destiny. Despite all the platitudes about becoming an independent Pacific nation, this insecurity remains hardwired in the DNA. To be off ‘negotiating’ with the Chinese is imagined to be very very important. The rest of the world matters, New Zealand and its values do not. In the minds of the Arderns, Mackinnons, etc. dealing with the Chinese demonstrates a cosmopolitan knowingness – something the little provincial people lack. I imagine their earlier counterparts would behave similarly when given the chance to mix with the British aristocractic elites several generations back. The difference is at least the British could be expected to have our interests somewhat at heart. In contrast the Australians have never been like that and you can see this now in their much earlier push for republicanism and the greater resistance today against foreign interference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it goes back to the bi party Treaty of Waitangi where new Crown British Settlers followed by Maori have a higher ranking than NZ citizens in the packing order.


  9. You simply don’t want to understand the facts. Islam has killed over 270 million people more than any other entity in history. China is informed and understands the threat of Islam.


    • Nothing justifies the lawless internment of a million people.

      I’m not remotely sympathetic to Islam but….nothing justifies the lawless internment of a million people, or forcing many of the others in Xinjiang to host government spies living in their houses, among their own families.

      Israel, for example, does nothing of the sort, but remains extremely vigilant.

      As for numbers, militant atheistic regimes (PRC, Germany, USSR, and Cambodia notably) account for many more lives – than Islam – in the last 100 years. Which is not, for a moment, to champion Islam.


  10. You just don’t grasp Islam at all. Perhaps a Kenyan man living in the UK can give you an insight. I say let these Africans, and Somalis in particular, return to their country, because the money they get from Europe in benefits is ruining their homeland, because they send their cash to al-Shabaab groups and other warring factions. The unmarried men come here with the money they get from Europe to do tourist marriage! They impregnate young Somali girls, and after their holidays are over, they return to Europe, leaving many girls behind as single parents. I say deport these single males back to Africa, so that they may look after the kids that they left in Somalia to starve in poverty while they enjoy pizzas in Europe.

    We have many street kids in Nairobi, Kenya, who are of Somali origin. All of them are the results of sex vacations done by Somali youths who live in Europe. When these men arrive in Africa, they don’t go to Somalia, but Kenya, where temporary marriages are organized. The only thing needed in this marriage arrangement is an imam, two witnesses, one of whom can even be your friend, then when their vacation is over, they leave the girls, many already pregnant, and the girls are unable to find the fathers of their children because those guys are back living in Europe. These girls are forced into prostitution in order to feed their kids. Europe should do something to help end this discrimination towards girls, and they should deport all Somali males, let them do their evil things when they are here in Africa and where they cannot escape from their responsibilities, rather than doing it while they have safe haven in Europe. Further, the majority of the money they get in benefits ends up funding terrorists. Europe needs to act now!

    Europe must know the truth, there is no war anymore, especially in the east African country of Somalia. Let me stand clear on this issue, because it’s not only Europe that is at threat, but we Kenyans, too. We have Kenyan troops in Somalia fighting terrorists (al-Shabaab). We have US drones hunting them, too. The reason why you see these economic migrants arriving by boat in Europe is because they are lazy people! They come for your free benefits which are paid out with your taxpayers’ money. They get free houses, free food, free clothes, etc. And most importantly, they are reinforcing their forces in Europe, because they know very well, when they become the majority, that you will be the minority and it will be easier for them to conquer Europe. With the money they are getting from Europe, they are destabilizing our region in Kenya, because it is paid to their clan fighters! Kenya deported one million Somalis back to Somalia because they were terrorist sympathizers. We gave them refuge and they hid terrorists in their houses.

    The result was that we lost 179 students. The result of Europeans allowing these Somalis to have EU citizenship is that there are many kids across Kenya who have no fathers, and their mothers are so illiterate that they cannot report the men because they cannot find them. These women end up depending on the kindness of NGOs and well-wishers who provide the basic essentials for them, whilst the fathers enjoy the good life in Europe. I don’t say that Europe should stop helping Africans, but I do say that Africans should be helped in their own countries; teach them life skills, educate them, and teach them how they can develop Africa. The Abuja initiative encouraged Africans to relocate to Europe also. Lastly, I will also say that Muslim nations and countries are encouraging Muslims to settle in Europe in order to grow their numbers. Even rich Muslim countries are not accepting Muslims; instead, they are encouraging them to move to Europe from Asia to Africa. Europeans are becoming a minority, and Christianity as a belief system is dying out in Europe, and Muslims are seizing on this. Muslims are being told to spread Islam in Europe. None of the Gulf countries are taking them in. It’s time for Europe to wake up now.


    • Just briefly, I think NZ is fortunate not to have had large scale Muslim immigration, and I would strongly oppose any material increase in such immigration. Last year, I even got one of the stauchest pro-immigration economists in NZ to acknowledge that he would not be comfortable with a significant influx of, in this case, Wahhabi Saudis.

      But nothing justifies the indiscriminate and unlawful internment of a million people.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Finally, Winston went to Washington. At least that is a start. It is a no brainer, we don’t have to choose between the US and the PRC as several fools have inferred, some of which are in the NZ government.
    We are just too slow, the PRC is prosecuting it’s SW pacific agenda now and, is building a huge blue water navy. Xi Jinping recently said that nothing will stop the PNC in developing the nations of the SW Pacific.
    Already the PNC is requesting sites for naval bases. It is deliberately unclear what “developing” actually means in my view.
    Somehow we need to convince Pacific leaders we are far better partners and militarisation of the Pacific t is against their interests and, come up with meaningful projects that benefit the well being and wealth of people in those countries.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is just a complete and utter beat-up.

      Here’s the facts:

      * All countries, particularly large countries engage in spying and hacking. Period. Some may be better than it than others, but all will do it.

      * New Zealand, and the other four Anglo Saxon powers have been spying on China for a very long long time – Five Eyes. So NZ can spy on China, but not expect to be spied on in return?

      * China is surrounded by a ring of US military bases. The US has around 1000 overseas military bases. China has one or two.

      * China’s activity in the South China Sea, accelerated after Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’

      * China’s claims on the South China Sea are not recent. They are claims that well preceded the communist government, and are indeed supported by the Taiwanese government (successor to the pre-communist KMT government in China). This is a claim, that would be supported by any type of Chinese government – so called ‘totalitarian’ or ‘democratic’

      * John Pilger’s documentary should be compulsory viewing for any fair minded person:

      * Look at the frame at 3:08 in the video, showing the US ‘noose’ around China. Seen in this context, China’s current actions in the South China sea are entirely understandable.


    • Somehow we need to convince Pacific leaders we are far better partners and militarisation of the Pacific t is against their interests and, come up with meaningful projects that benefit the well being and wealth of people in those countries.

      That’s going to be pretty hard, when the West has forcibly tested nuclear weapons over their heads forcing them to “endure burns that reached to the bone, forced relocation, nightmarish birth defects, cancers in the short and long term”


      • Mark, I agree with you,the Pacific nuclear tests and consequences were and are disgraceful. My concern is a new overlord in the Pacific who is seeking to militarise the Pacific once again.The PRC has runs on the board in the South China Sea and no one can budge them. However, the Pacific nations are highly vulnerable to the debt trap diplomacy that the PNC is offering. I believe we need to offer something far better, without strings.

        Liked by 2 people

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