Unfit to govern

I’m probably the sort of person the National Party used to count on voting for them.   National was the only party I was ever a member of, the only party I ever canvassed for. There were family connections, and there were the founding principles, every one of which I identified with (and do still).   Even in Wellington, middle-aged conservatives might reasonably have been assumed to support National, even if (at times) through gritted teeth.  One of those founding principles talked, perhaps slightly quaintly, of “countering Communism”, and it seemed to be something taken fairly seriously throughout the post-war decades.  There was a suggestion of some values; a suggestion of things that mattered beyond just the next business deal.  Friends and allies, people and countries with whom we shared those values, seemed to count too.

But over the last couple of decades, New Zealand political figures, and the National Party ones in particular, seem to have binned any sense of decency, integrity, or values when it comes to Chinese Communist Party ruled China. I don’t suppose that individually most of them have much sympathy for PRC policies and practices, but they just show no sign of caring any longer.  Deals, donations, and indifference seem to be the order of the day.

Over the last couple of years the depths the party, its leaders and MPs, have been plumbing have become more visible.  In 2017, in government, they signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding with the PRC on the Belt and Road Initiative.  In that document they –  Simon Bridges as signatory –  committed to “promote” the “fusion of civilisations”.      Plenty of people will probably dismiss such statements as “meaningless”, the stuff of official communiques.  But decent people –  under no duress whatever –  don’t sign up to things suggesting that today’s equivalent of Nazi-ruled Germany is a normal and decent regime.  Of course, they would probably dispute the parallel, but that’s just willed deliberate blindness.

Later that same year we learned that the National Party had had a former PLA intelligence officer, Communist Party member, sitting in their parliamentary caucus.  It seems to be generally accepted that Jian Yang, of such a questionable background, is one of the party’s largest fundraisers.   Presumably the leaders (Key and Goodfellow) were aware of his past, but lets be generous and assume that most of the caucus was as unaware as the public.    But for the past 18 months, everyone has known.    They also know –  because Jian Yang acknowledged as much –  that he deliberately misrepresented his past to get into New Zealand, telling us that Beijing had told him (and others in his position) to do so.   Breathtakingly, there is no sign that official agencies in New Zealand have done anything about those admissions, but National is now out of office so I guess one can’t blame them for that.

But what the National Party –  leader, president, MPs, and all those holding office in the party –  is responsible for is the fact that Jian Yang still sits in Parliament, still sits in the National caucus, is still a National spokesman (on a couple of minor portfolios), with the express support of successive leaders, and (apparently) in ongoing business relationships with the party president (he who trots of to Beijing to praise the regime and its leader).   And not one MP, not one national councillor, no other officeholder –  not one –  has broken ranks, and been willing to openly question (or deplore) just what has gone on.  Doing so might, I suppose, jeopardise their individual futures.  But values are the things you are willing to risk for, to pay some price for.    Rumour hath it that some people within the party aren’t entirely comfortable, but so what, if you aren’t willing to do, or say, anything?

A few months ago we had the egregious former Minister of Trade, and foreign affairs spokesperson, Todd McClay plumbing new depths.    In an interview with Stuff, he championed the PRC regime interpretation of the mass internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, noting that

“the existence and purpose of vocational training centres is a domestic matter for the Chinese Government.”

If he’d just kept quiet at least there might have been some doubt about his decency, but he opened his mouth and left no doubt.  He was spinning for the CCP regime in Beijing.

Since then even the regime in Beijing has more or less admitted that, of course, that line isn’t true.  But we’ve heard nothing more –  and certainly no apology –  from Mr McClay or his leaders.

And, of course, every so often the National Party leader Simon Bridges pops up if there is ever the slightest sign that anyone in the current government is expressing even the mildest reservations about the regime in Beijing.  Never mind that the Defence strategy document stated no more (considerably less) than was obvious to blind Freddy, it was too much for Mr Bridges.  Never mind that reservations about Huawei seem to be increasingly widely shared by governments and intelligence agencies across the western world, it might lead to furrowed brows and discontent in Beijing, and we couldn’t have that could we?   Never mind too that, in government and in practice it is hard to conceive that things would have been any different on that particular score under National –  I don’t suppose even National is quite so far gone in Beijing’s thrall that they would simply walk away from Australia, the United States, a growing number of other western countries, and what appears to be assessments of our own intelligence services.    No sense at all in anything Bridges –  or any other National Party figure – says that the PRC itself has changed: bad as the regime always was, it has now become worse.

But it was comments the other day from National’s third-ranked member and finance spokesperson, Amy Adams, that really left me open-mouthed in astonishment.  Both at what she said –  even if it wasn’t far from what had seemed to be the National stance in practice –  but also at the lack of any other coverage of, or follow-up to, those remarks.    In an interview with NBR, (behind a paywall but here) we are told

National’s finance spokeswoman Amy Adams has accused the government of putting the economy at risk by offending China.

“The first thing is you don’t p[…] off your major trading partner and, let’s be really clear about this, China is our single biggest trading partner.”

Quite extraordinary.

One could clear the small things out the way first. For example, governments don’t trade with China, firms in New Zealand trade with firms in the PRC.  Sure, governments set some of the terms on which that trade occurs, but government isn’t a business.

One might also note that if the PRC is the largest “trading partner” for New Zealand firms, it is very similar in size to Australia in terms of total New Zealand trade.  Until about five years ago, the EU in total accounted for more of New Zealand’s trade than the PRC.  Australia remains by far the largest source of foreign investment in New Zealand.     And these days exports to each of our largest “trading partners” –  in an economy (New Zealand) that doesn’t trade much with the rest of world by international standards – account for about 5 per cent of  GDP, in total.  For many decades, a much larger proportion of our GDP was accounted for by trade with the UK.

Oh, and a large proportion of New Zealand exports (not all of course) are commodities, and if not sold in one market they will be sold in some other part of the global market.   PRC babies seem unlikely to stop drinking infant formula.

But what really staggered me was the bald sense in which National’s finance spokesperson appears to think that the interests and priorities of foreign governments are what should matter most to our government. Not our values, not our people.  On her telling, we’d never annoy Australia about anything (apple import cases to the WTO, illegal migrants/asylum-seekers on Nauru, New Zealand citizens being deported from Australia).    We’d never have taken on France over nuclear-testing (at a time when the UK was entering the EU, and trade access to our largest market was substantially in danger).  We’d never have fought for Imperial Preference for our exports to the UK in the 1930s.  We’d never have banned nuclear ships (the US wasn’t our largest trading partner, but the US and EU together were hugely important markets, and we relied on the UK government (Thatcher) to fight our corner for EU market access).  The then Australia government wasn’t best-pleased with that New Zealand policy choice either.   And more generally –  and much more dominant – Canada would never ever stand for itself on anything that involved the United States, or Ireland vis-a-vis the UK.  I suspect Denmark and the Netherlands had had significant trade ties to Germany pre-1940, but they didn’t exactly put out the welcome mat to Hitler.  Southern African countries chose to limit trade with Rhodesia, and confront South Africa, because they considered they had a just cause.  And so on.    (Note that I’m not endorsing all these causes, just noting the willingness of governments to upset their closest “trading partner”.)

Of course, this almost certainly isn’t what Ms Adams believes at all.   Presumably as a senior minister she had no problem at all with the fact that at times we had, and have, open differences with Australia.  In any relationship, no matter how important, there are going to be differences from time to time, and in international relations governments (at least democratic ones) aren’t supposed to act for themselves, or even for small favoured groups, but for the citizenry as a whole.

Instead, the Adams approach –  presumably endorsed by her leader –  is about a particular thuggish regime. It seems to be that we should defer entirely to Beijing’s prickly style and never ever do or say anything that might upset them, never display any self-respect, and simply engage in either anticipatory compliance or abject penitent submission.  Worse, apparently we should even make excuses for them –  or retail their propaganda lines, as per Todd McClay.  It is classic domestic abuse situation, and yet championed by someone who aspires to be a senior minister of a free country, perhaps even aspires to be the Prime Minister.   In fact, someone who was the Minister of Justice, who led legislative attempts to respond to the family violence problems.  I’m quite sure it wasn’t her advice to victims –  “oh, don’t upset him…ever”.    So why does she propose that our foreign policy towards the international abuser par excellence be essentially just that?  Act that way and all you do is encourage the abuser, and lock yourself further into the cycle of abuse, humiliation and loss of any sort of self-respect.

Of course, the difference here is that Adams ask us (citizens) to bear the abuse and humiliation –  leaders who remain silent in the face of evil, leaders who won’t stand up for the integrity of the system, and even spend our money to run PR-front organisations to champion the pro-Beijing perspective –  all to benefit a few specific businesses that have (consciously and knowingly) over-exposed themselves to a thuggish regime, and the substantial flow of donations to their own political parties.    Politicians like Adams simply encourage the over-exposure, and encourage the false subservience of victimhood.   If our businesses were dealing with organised crime, or with shonky people who didn’t pay their bills, we’d either insist or encourage them to cut their exposures.  If you deal with the Mafia you are on your own –  in fact, society will shun you, not tolerate you asking for us to pander to the leaders.  But when it is the PRC –  organised coercive threat if ever there was such –  our leaders simply want us to defer, and complain when their opponents show any sign of not being quite deferential enough to the bully.  And they simply let evil pass by, and in so doing make themselves complicit with –  and thus partly responsible themselves –  for the evil.

In his Beijing-deferential interview on the Herald website the other day, David Mahon tried to frame the current PRC upset with New Zealand as “the Chinese see it as akin to infidelity”.    What a sickening image, but perhaps one that brings us right around to the abused-spouse parallel.  New Zealanders made no vows to Beijing – although perhaps our craven political leaders did –  but when the merest squeaks are heard, the abuser – freshly drunk on newfound power – seems to feel free to attempt to squash and silence, while politicians, lobby groups and business interests cheer on not the abused “spouse” but the abuser.   New Zealand “leaders ” have been among the most sycophantic and compliant anywhere in the western world, so perhaps there is a sense that they can’t afford to let us get away with some renewed self-respect.  That, after all, might encourage others to think and act for themselves, for the values of their peoples.   Better to foster the illusion –  assisted by local politicians and academics –  that the PRC holds our prosperity in its hand.

It simply doesn’t. It never did.

But that’s New Zealand politics, that seems to be today’s National Party. It is sickening.

 

 

80 thoughts on “Unfit to govern

  1. How much of this is to do with the Huawei ban? No details have been given for this and it should be separate to any political concerns we have about China?

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  2. It seems to me that the National Party is also blind to the fact that many NZers would prefer far less kowtowing to Chinese interests — including fewer Chinese tourists, who they perceive as being far less valuable to the economy than we are told, inasmuch as they are widely understood to put all their money through Beijing-controlled tourism ventures that siphon the profits back to China. I’m not sure if the Nats really understand what they are doing in terms of political popularity by attacking Ardern’s government over the issue. Quite a few comments on media sites have sneered at Bridges and suggested he ask Jian Yang to put a word in for us with his masters in Beijing.

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    • You have to ask Maori Iwi why the National Party, the Labour Party and NZFirst need to kowtow to the Chinese. Perhaps because Maori Iwi has most of their $60 billion invested in Primary Industries and Tourism that is drooling over the $1.5 billion population?

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  3. Michael

    In order to properly govern any western nation political leaders require a sound knowledge of history including an understanding of those ideas and virtues that have shaped western civilisation over the last 1,000 years. Armed with those insights, political leaders can develop a working philosophy that includes a set of core values. Those values help to shape public policy including our approach to foreign trading partners.

    However, can anyone name a school or a university in New Zealand that has taught the political, social and religious foundations of western civilisation, or has engaged in anything approaching this topic for the last four or five decades?

    Such courses may exist, but I am unaware of them.

    It is unsurprising therefore, that we have been reduced to the lowest common denominator – naked self interest wrapped in a cloak of pragmatism, delivered with newspeak – attributes common to both major parties.

    Furthermore, few politicians appear to have the self awareness to realise that this is where they have landed, much less how they arrived at this sad and vapid destination.

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    • British Colonial history of the great British Empire?

      I was reminded again this morning on a RNZ interview of a security surveillance report that identified sources of potential threat. The Maori individual referred to the Treaty of Waitangi and of being an equal partner between Maori (as a sovereign nation) and the (British) Crown. Not too sure why the British Crown seem to come up everytime Maori individuals have a problem with the NZ public servants.

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  4. I voted for National at every election for thirty years. I too was a member of the National Party but I resigned in disgust a little while back. I too consider them morally unfit to govern at present. I am incredulous that National’s leadership appears continually to be arguing that New Zealand should prostrate itself to accommodate a ruthless, expansionist foreign power with hostile values. I am astonished to reflect that some of the things they are saying are similar to what you might have expected to hear from Beijing. But their views go largely unchallenged (apart from this blog of course), in fact there is an echo chamber of media columnists only to eager to amplify them.

    China’s bullying and its interference in our domestic affairs, principally through its United Front organization, are completely unacceptable in any relationship between sovereign nations. Unfortunately the current government inspires little confidence – its response has been timorous at best, more akin to the proverbial possum stuck in the oncoming headlights. I do detect however a groundswell of concern among New Zealanders about allowing ourselves ourselves to be pushed around by Beijing from which I take heart. If it continues on its present supine course National will eventually find itself stranded as the tide turns towards a stronger and popular defence of New Zealand’s own long term interests and values.

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    • Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
      O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
      ….
      But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
      In proving foresight may be vain:
      The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
      Gang aft agley,
      An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
      For promis’d joy!

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  5. Presumably as a young man you never dreamed that you would write such an article.

    “” But values are the things you are willing to risk for, to pay some price for “” that is the summary. The lack of discussion in the National party is alarming; wasn’t it two Green MPs who resigned rather than show support for benefit fraud?

    Meanwhile in today’s Herald Audrey Young’s article “Govt must navigate China issue skilfully” has as a highlight “Ivory-towered academics may see that as kowtowing rather than realpolitik”. Well I am unlikely to be mistaken for an ivory tower academic but the lessons learned in the school yard remain – in the long run it is never worth while giving in to bullying.

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  6. Brilliant Michael.
    Have to say ‘metoo’ . Spent many years in the National Party ,on campaign team for an MP 5 times.
    Just horrifies me where they are on this and other issues.
    During the week Bridges was interviewed on The Country” by Jamie McKay on China and I was gobsmacked at his response.
    More like an advocate for the PRC and to me his comments were damaging to the country.Irresponsible.

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  7. I would suggest that it’s not only on this issue that there is a serious disconnect between the principles that National has at its masthead and it’s actual policies in the last few years. Whenever I have challenged them the usual reply I get is that it’s ‘too hard’ and just ‘not possible’ to reverse those policies when National gets into power. Seems little point then in having several parties on the left then….but worse voters are being denied a real choice and the National party doesn’t try to explain or sell its policies.

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  8. Out of interest, did this topic come up in your meeting with Amy Adams? (just curious re public vs private stance….and assuming a meeting took place – I’m recalling a response post which might be my memory error)

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  9. I think it all comes down to globalist ideology and a media which doesn’t critique it. I think the likes of Kathryn Ryan are corrupt in so far as they they are supposed to be objective but clearly have agenda. They are corrupt because they are payed by taxpayers and are *public* servants.

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  10. I like the Nazi analogy Michael, weren’t we supposed to make sure it never happened again? Yet, internment of the Uyghur’s, expansionist rhetoric from their military, minor naval skirmishes in the South China Sea, threats to Taiwan?? Asleep at the wheel springs to mind. History never repeats.

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    • I still think the poor and destitute conditions of the 2 million Palestinians outweigh the plight of the 1 million Uygur where the multibillion reconstruction of the Xinjian province with hundreds of millions in theme park reconstruction of the Uyghur previously run down and destitute suburbs into brand new theme park reality villages for tourists. Forced into modern amenities and safe accomodation may not be everyone’s cup of tea if you are used to mud huts and dirt floors.

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      • One in ten forceably detained with minimal contact with anyone outside the walls of their ‘reducation centre’. Of the nine out of ten compulsary home stays from Chinese civil servants. I dream of IRD sending someone to live with GGS. It is not hard to make a case for the Palestinians but every single one of them can use a mobile to phone anyone in the world and make their case for unfair persecution. This is not permitted to Uyghurs. Palestinians can also select their own leaders and those leaders can and do make statements at intenational meetings. I wouldn’t like to be in either’s situation but certainly would prefer a Palestinians chance of a free future.
        The theme park confuses me – must be alluding to something I missed but do you realise that Xinjiang ‘autonomous’ region is six times larger than New Zealand. That use of ‘autonomous’ is classic Orwellian doublespeak.

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      • The new village theme park in Xinjiang, covering 740 acres in total, features a statue of Afanti on a much larger scale. The first of these, which opened earlier this year, includes a bazaar, a cinema complex, and the first go at an Afanti Folk Village. It will also include a performing arts center for darwaz, the Uyghur art of tightrope walking, which will be graced by the “High Altitude Prince” himself: Adili Wuxor, whose sixty-day stint of tightrope walking in Beijing National Stadium—though sadly uncorroborated by Guinness World Records—has made him popular throughout China.

        The second phase, will include everything from thrill rides to the Afanti Exotic Garden, for the “pensive, walk-through kind of thing and is a true portrayal of life in Xinjiang.

        https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/chinas-dream-parks

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  11. There is a subtext in your article stating the case that our politicians have been corrupted and have been bought and sold. Very clearly so. Explain how a Chinese import arrives in NZ in 2001, immediately sets up a Chinese Takeaway in AKL, and today cannot speak English and is now worth $40 million. An inability to speak English is a serious impediment to doing business in NZ. Yet this person has excelled at the game while at the same time maintaining a very low profile. The one mistake that has been made was backing ex-National politicians as prominent politically-connected heads of NZ based Chinese Banks. With the election of a non-National Government in 2017 much of the value has been compromised and we are now seeing the push-back. Too much money has been pumped into the National Party apparatus.

    Protected Species
    With the latest political Newspoll results showing National slipping behind Coalition the media and Newstalk lit up like a Christmas tree wanting Simon Bridges to step down and promoting Judith “Oravida” Collins to step up. That demand lasted a less than a day. Try examining the terms of reference of the enquiry into the disruption of the fuel pipeline from Marsden Point to Auckland. It’s characterised as a simple disruption, not the product of Chinese corruption. The owner of the property on which the pipeline was damaged allowed two digger operators access to dig. One of these Ruakaka operators has been cleared. The identity of the digger operator has never been identified. The owner of the property has never been identified. It doesn’t take much to work out that protection-money at an elevated level has changed hands. It has all been buried. The Terms of Reference of the Government enquiry have been carefully curated. That’s corruption

    Look for the corruption

    psychological blindness
    inattention blindness is similar to change blindness, which is when you miss a change in a stimulus that was there before. In inattention blindness, you miss a new stimulus, often because of your own expectations

    Also known as perceptual blindness, inattentive blindness results from a lack of attention that is not associated with vision defects or deficits, as an individual fails to perceive an unexpected stimulus in plain sight

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    • I too find the lack of public disclosure on the pipeline matter very disturbing. It’s very unnerving when things can be so successfully ‘hushed up’. At least that seems what happened in that case.

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      • Katherine, nothing hushed up. The landowner would cough up the identity if the digger contractor at fault.

        “The Northland Regional Council has spoken to the owner of the land where the pipeline broke.
        He has confirmed there was digging on his property but refused to identify the digger driver.
        The council doesn’t have the authority to make him do so. Council chair Bill Shepherd said the council had no powers under the Resource Management Act to compel anyone to provide information, making it difficult to prosecute anyone for the spillage of 124 cubic metres of jetfuel.”

        https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/346670/marsden-pipeline-rupture-cause-confirmed

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      • Yes, GGS but carry on in the article and it concludes, “Energy Minister Megan Woods has said the inquiry in the new year into the pipeline rupture will get to the bottom of who was responsible and examine the security of the country’s fuel supply.” That article was late 2017 – here we are in 2019 – and to my knowledge there has been no inquiry announced, has there?

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    • National gets $50k donation from Oravida founder March 2017 – nice timing
      The National Party has received another $50,000 from the head of Oravida, which was once caught up in a conflict of interest claim. Mr Shi is also the owner of Ardmore airport and bought former Hanover director Mark Hotchin’s Paritai Drive mansion for $39 million in 2013
      https://www.odt.co.nz/news/politics/national-gets-50k-donation-oravida-founder

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      • Deyi Shi, the head of Oravida(which exports NZ produce mainly Cherries and seafood) does not speak a word of English. It is certainly no impediment to doing business in NZ as he has bought up Ardmore Airport, bought up gold mining operations, bought up NZ kauri now valued at $70 million, bought up the ANZ pentagon tower on the Auckland Princess Wharf with Southern China Airlines as a anchor tenant.

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      • More mis-information
        Mr Shi speaks limited English and is more at home on the golf course, playing daily. He has teed off with Prime Minister John Key, whose portrait hangs in the company’s boardroom. He is an active investor in NZ with a varied portfolio, including swamp kauri

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      • I have spoken to him personally. If you consider hello and goodbye a decent level of English you must be joking.

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  12. Sovereign nations jointly sign Free Trade Agreements setting out the terms and conditions for trade, not private companies, so in that context Amy Adams was correct in her statement that New Zealand should be careful in not alienating it’s primary market..
    Additionally Amy is sounding a subtle warning , New Zealand’s health and well being is inextricably linked to our export markets, we are an exporting nation and are fully cognizant of the consequences of the impact the loss of an export market has on the economy and citizens of New Zealand.

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      • I think that started with the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown issuing a subsequent proclamation of ownership of NZ with British soldiers sent in to remove the independent NZ flag and the destruction of existing settlers independent NZ.

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    • It is the National Party and China who have politicized the Huawei issue. GCSB have made a technical evaluation and have let Spark know their concerns which reportedly have to do with security issues around the Huawei technology proposed for Spark’s 5G rollout. The ball is now in Spark and Huawei’s court to answer those concerns. Instead Huawei seem to be conducting a PR campaign and China is fiddling with our salmon exports at their border. Would Bridges have overruled GCSB and allowed technology into our communications and IT infrastructure that might compromise its security and also prevent our Five Eyes partners from sharing vital intelligence with us? Trade is indeed very important but the first duty of any government is to protect its citizens and ensure their safety and security. And 80 percent of our exports do not go to China.

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      • GCSB is a part of 5 eyes. It is therefore subject to any political requests out of any of our 5 eyes partners. The agreement requires compliance as soon as the words National security is uttered. I don’t think it necessarily have to be evidence based requests. It is up to the Minister in charge of the GCSB to request that proper process and evidence is available to be checked. I would like to see more evidence that this is not a US request that is due to the inability of the US to compete with the Huawei 5G technology.

        The Kim Dotcom saga still comes to mind of US interference in our local laws with the subjugation of an individual that has broken no NZ laws.

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    • Our medium-term prosperity – like that of any other country – depends on our own efforts, and the global environment of technology/opportunity, not the whims of any specific other country.

      As I noted in the posts, govt set rules for trade, but govts don’t export, individual firms do.

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  13. Been meaning to respond to this post since it came in.

    It’s an excellent article Michael.

    I come from National’s rural heartland. My grandfather was a founder member of the Party. My father was Keith Holyoake’s electorate chairman and Jenny Shipley asked me to consider standing for the Party.

    I came back from overseas having always voted National and then proceeded to become increasingly estranged from the Party to the extent I voted for Jacinda.

    I am thoroughly disgusted by John Key and what he has done to both the National Party and this country. The pandering to communists in Beijing – Han-Nazi’s – sickens me.

    National’s prostitution of its principles beggars belief.

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    • At the beginning I warmed to John Key, especially after 9 years of Helengrad. And I gave National, of which I was then a member, good marks for their handling of the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes. But this subservience to the PRC and the flow of CCP money into our political system is of a different order of magnitude. It is a betrayal of our fundamental values which family members defended in two world wars.

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      • Sir John Key as the Tourism Minister for 9 years under a National government gave us our super quick fix after a disastrous recession engineered by a feral RBNZ gone bonkers. He dropped 4 million tourists into NZ and a 100k International students into Auckland driving the economy out of a recession and into growth territory. Poor GDP per capita but nevertheless brought us out of beggars street and a downgrade in our credit ratings with the International credit agencies.

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  14. Agree 100%. What beggars belief is that there doesn’t seem to be any politician, of any persuasion, willing to, even quietly, recognize the nature of the regime. Even more outrageously Adams states National, over its nine years in govt ‘navigated’ around ‘sensitive’ human rights and security issues without compromising trade. As far as I know the only way they navigated around them was to ignore them, pretend they didn’t matter.

    For those who might want to read the full NBR article without a subscription, sign up and you get two free premium articles per week.

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    • National did stand up for Palestinian rights at the UN and Israel withdrew it’s ambassador from NZ with Netanyahu declaring war on NZ. Not easy navigating human rights issues.

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  15. Michael, do you mean Newsroom simply lifted the article from your site without your express permission? If that’s the case, it’s outrageous. It’s your copyright.

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    • On this particular occasion yes. I have a pretty friendly relationship with them and would happily have said yes – and have every previous time they’ve asked – but on this occasion no one asked. I have sent them a friendly reminder.

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  16. We prosecute work spaces and sports organisations for bullying people on the same team, yet kowtow to the biggest bully on the block – the PRC. Please no.

    The stalling of the NZ’sTourist Promotion to the PRC by the Chinese Government aroused only cheers throughout the South Island. The kind of bullying threats we can easily live with.

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  17. Some years back my friend moved from Queenstown and went looking for a house at Sumner. He discussed Queenstown with the real estate agent. She said “it’s an industry secret that Queenstown Lakes is bent”. I think that sort of behaviour has permeated through our property sector and into the National Real Estate Party (Simon Bridges one)?

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  18. Congratulations on another strong piece Michael.

    Odd that thing about NewsRoom – pretty 101 to ask I would have thought. But I have to say its great to see your take out there, just a little bit more widely. The position across the media has been just disgracefully poor this last week.

    What are your views, perhaps beyond the various known (and seldom disclosed) conflicts of interest, on the consensus NZ MSmedia position? Is it intellectual-lightweightism? Something to do with media ‘values’? Surely not general malice for the NZ people.

    I wonder also what your take is on where the UK 5G / Huawei position puts us ‘politically’? For me the UK intelligence authorities can be prone to messing up, but are probably backing their technical ability to mitigate any risks. Obviously our guys have taken a different view. But it does put us in something of a quandary. Without getting all whacko on it, one even wonders if it would be beyond Huawei to intentionally differentiate its hardware ‘pitches’ to NZ and UK network-providers in order to bring this kind of tension about.

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    • I doubt the GCSB has the technical resources to undertake the review of the 5G threat potential. They are geared mainly for intelligence gathering. The security threat request would have come from one of the 5 eyes partners likely unsubstantiated. Clearly the UK has not considered the Huawei 5G a security threat.

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      • Nonsense getgreatstuff. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has not made a final determination on Huawei yet. There is also a wider UK review underway looking at ways of mitigating the risks of Chinese espionage including restricting Huawei’s access to parts of the network. Our own GCSB is a very capable organization when it comes to cyber security – we should be grateful to them.

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      • When the GCSB chief starts talking about email booby traps as if it was a serious threat rather than the detailed National security technical requirements that the GCSB would like Huawei to mitigate, I am pretty sure they lack the 5G technical skills to even know what the security problem is. All I heard is a GCSB chief fronting up to a select committee talking about everything else other than the specifics of his interference with a free market to prevent Spark a NZ public company from adopting leading edge technology ahead of its Australian rival companies.

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    • Re the UK Huawei position (which I understand isn’t a final determination), it clearly makes the domestic politics more awkward. It would be interesting to know more (but I guess we never will) about the UK assessment, but it is worth remembering that BT a couple of months back announced that they were stripping Huawei equipment ouf of their 4G network. More generally, one still sees little NZ coverage of the new Chinese law requiring any Chinese company to comply with any regime direction, or about the incidents revealing the apparent character of the company (open prizes for theft of intellectual property). And don’t forget the multi-country statement before Christmas that our govt/GCSB was party to about the actions of the PRC government on the intellectual property theft, thru cyberattacks. Sure, that wasn’t Hauwei, but that just brings one full circle – if you are a significant PRC company you are not an independent actor. That is a nature of a totalitarian state.

      I”m not quite sure what to make of most of the NZ media. I presume a lot of it is just that the circles they move on – politicians and business leaders – are so Beijing-deferential. Add in lack of resources, the implicit anti-Americanism (regardless of Trump) that leads to a sickening moral equivalence approach, and of course the fact that there are very few prominent public voices in NZ running an alternative stance. Anne-Marie Brady is admirable, but she is one person, and I get the sense that she isn’t that comfortable in the limelight. Perhaps there is something about “values” too – an implicit globalism and visceral unease with the idea of national interest, the nation state, and perhaps even our history and traditions. I don’t think it is venal – and of course there are exceptions (including for example Matt Nippert’s perseverance at the Herald).

      Liked by 3 people

      • I am more concerned with the GCSB interfering with the market, holding back a NZ public company from adopting the latest technology at a GCSB whim. There was no details as to what the specific technical issue that is blocking a NZ public company from getting ahead of its rival Australian competition. It was clear from the select committee meeting that the GCSB had no idea what the National security cyber issue was that was specific to the Huawei 5G other than that it was a Chinese company.

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  19. I’m completely in agreement with your article Michael. I was a long time National Party supporter but became concerned during John Key’s leadership that NZ was shifting into China’s orbit. Key approved the Huawei 4G network when Australia said no. Values like opposing totalitarian regimes, and calling them out when human rights are infringed seem to be non existent with the current crop of National MP’s. Use to be a time when NZ would support Taiwan, have the Dali Lama drop in for a chat on Tibet, but not a chance now.
    It does seem money is all that matters to Nats now. Principles can be compromised, and those lucrative directorships on Chinese Banks and joint venture companies after they end their political career is all they care about. Ruth Richardson, Shipley et al. I won’t be voting for them again.
    You could also spotlight the NZ mainstream media for it’s pro-China coverage of the current tensions with China. Over on NZ Herald the political commentators only message is it’s unwise to upset China. No indignation apparently that China is acting like a neighbourhood bully in it’s tactics to punish NZ for daring to say no to Huawei. Maybe they should be asking why is the issue so important to China that they need to punish a small country?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose NZ can be said to be in USA’s, Australia’s and Britain’s orbits and given its rich culture and size and recent immigration patterns there is no difficulty in adding ourselves to China’s orbit. Except there has never been any problem objecting to features I dislike about the first three but given China’s authoritarian, non-democratic government I seriously think about publishing comments in this blog. The looming development of AI and large data searches concerns me that in the future I could be persecuted for idle comments made here – it is mainly my age that makes me blasé about potential troubles in the future. Of course there could be ramifications for my children who never read these comments if they want to do business with China or China’s subordinate countries.

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      • Money Talks

        Huawei reportedly pledges $2 billion to satisfy British security agency’s demands. Huawei met with one of the U.K.’s security agencies this week, the Financial Times reported. It reportedly agreed to conform with a list of terms set out by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Please note that the International Tech Industry, particularly Microsoft and Google are unable to develop email software that can detect bogus emails sent from non-existent email addresses

        and

        The International Tech Industry is unable to reverse-engineer the tracking of hackers by the IP addresses used regardless of how many hops they use and redirections etc

        Maybe Huawei has cracked and hasn’t told anyone

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      • You want to live life in fear of the bogeyman? They have 1 billion of their own people to control first, they won’t worry about you. But that’s how evil regimes usually develop and maintain their grip. Keep the masses quivering in fear. Occasionally those masses rise up and throw off the shackles, such as in Eastern Europe in early 1990’s.

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  20. I woke up early this morning thinking about Helen Clark and her support for the Isis bride who wants to return to Britain and “live quietly” (while someone else shovels coal – noisily- to pay for her). You might represent her thinking in a diagram where a circle represents a world authority and the persuasiveness of the progressive intellectual. She seems to think these people are redeemable. I suppose that circle would envelop the Chinese regime? Part of the progressive millinerien project that has transformed NZ into a multicultural utopia?

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you don’t believe people are redeemable then life is sad.

      Haven’t heard what Helen Clarke said but it does sound a trifle impertinent but that would depend on context. Personally I think that unfortunate woman should return to where she came from in East London to act as a warning for others – suitable case for an ankle bracelet. Treat as a prodigal daughter.

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      • What is your definition of redeemable

        The personage in question, during an interview (in the past week) applauded the beheadings – no redemption there – in response 84% of brits said don’t let her back

        Liked by 1 person

      • Despite lifelong and determined atheism my definition is roughly the biblical one: “able to be recovered or saved from faults or bad aspects”. I have many objections to the Bible but it sure packs a few great stories with the prodigal son and the good Samaritan being my favourites.

        I did hear her on the radio – certainly a person whose beliefs have altered her life – for me yet more proof that young people can be really dumb and also unable to have any sympathy others. Take me for the 16% of Brits who think she will be all the better as a living example to the rest of us.

        Incidentally I suspect the answer to that survey is influenced by how the question is asked; it is a measure of emotional response.

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      • Bob

        Clearly people are redeemable, however from a Biblical perspective, repentance is a pre-requisite. From what I understand, this young woman has not expressed any remorse, let alone repentance from her time as a female jihadist. She simply wants to return to the UK, presumably because life in Syria has become untenable for her and her child.

        Leaving Britain to live and support enemy combatants is an expression of repentance. She has repented of her UK citizenship, including the (somewhat faded) Judeo Christian values that underpinned British culture, and chose instead to live in the new Caliphate under Sharea. She wishes to change her geographic location, but her cultural, religious and spiritual ‘location’ not so much.

        Asking the citizens of Britain to support her and her child through the welfare system, while she still represents an ideological and a possible physical threat to British people is a sad absurdity.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 2Guys: there is a difference between holding a minority view and failure to accept democracy.

        Brendan: redeemable implies the future and in the future she may realise that she attached herself to an extemely evil group. I have a small admiration for someone who was standing by her beliefs when they clearly were to the severe disadvantage of herself and her newborn child.
        Yesterday’s quiz had the question ‘who were in the inner most ring of Dante’s hell?’ and the answer was the betrayers.
        If it makes a difference to you then suggest the UK govt denies her (and child) all benefits and leave it to one of the East London mosques to house and feed her. If she was a new Zealander Winz would eventualy insist on her applying for jobs.
        I find it hard to imagine her as a threat to Britain; certainly less than many of the preacher’s in some East London mosques.

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      • She is off to a good start: she had a “good time” in Syria and without the experience “would never have met someone like her husband”. She “wasn’t phased by drums of decapitated heads”.
        Under what moral principle should Britain accept her back?

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      • Jacinda might say ‘kindness’. Mine would be forgiveness (tempered with a suspicion she will be less trouble back home where the authorities can keep an eye on her than being trained to be a suicide bomber by some Muslim extremist in Somali or Yeman or Pakistan etc).

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