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Chinese threats over Crafars deal

Written By: - Date published: 1:59 pm, March 17th, 2012 - 141 comments
Categories: overseas investment - Tags: , ,

China’s political counsel (note, not a trade official) has threatened New Zealand over the Crafar Farms deal saying that New Zealand trade to China and investment from China is at risk. It seems an extraordinary action over a supposedly private business arrangement. As was Chinese Officials’ meeting with the OIO while the first Crafar farm decision was being made.

The political counsel confirmed that China has a “go global” strategy of promoting Chinese investment abroad. Companies like Pengxin, backed by interest-free loans from the government paid out of its massive depreciating foreign currency reserves, are to go around the world buying strategic assets. Naturally, the Chinese Embassy wants us to play along with that strategy.

But, surely, New Zealand (just like China) should put its own interests first. And selling our economic base isn’t in our interest.

Seems not with Tim Groser heading to China to encourage more foreign investment and John Key entertaining Chinese businessmen on a super-yacht.

141 comments on “Chinese threats over Crafars deal ”

  1. Bill 1

    Maybe I’m blind, but I don’t see where the threat comes into it.

    All he said (and it was simply his personal opinion) was that foreign investors (not just Chinese) might think twice about any future investments in NZ. He might be right. He could be wrong.

    But, if I’m reading it correctly, some people are all up in arms when Chinese concerns seek investment in NZ and then get all up in arms all over again at the possibility of them not seeking investment in NZ!

    Bit bloody precious and maybe explained by the following quote from him? “I know there are some people in your country who are very sensitive to simply the term ‘China’.”


    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1

      So the narrative, thanks to Shill O’Sullivan et al, has become that New Zealanders are racists. Mr. Cheng will do himself no favours if he continues down this track.

      Dear Mr. Cheng, I am not sensitive to the word “China” I would just prefer that New Zealand kept the criminal gang that runs the place at arms length.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        KTH, in what way are the Chinese leadership a ‘criminal gang’? A criminal gang is a group of people acting outside of the law, no? Surely though, China’s leaders can simply change the law if need be to ensure that they always act within it? And in that respect they are in the same boat as hundreds of other regimes…and more than quite a few social democratic goverments. Are they all ‘criminal gangs’ too? Or is that emotive term specially reserved for the Chinese government?

        All bureaucracies are corrupt to one degree or another. And all bureaucracies encourage levels of graft and patronage. Including NZ’s bureaucracies.

        p.s. because your comment seemed to be in reply to mine, I should point out that my views aren’t informed by O’Sullivan. I hadn’t read her stuff and only in retrospect did I realise that her comments (when I became aware of them) were probably what was fuelling a highly defensive knee jerk reaction among many on the left when xenophobia or other such matters were mentioned.

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          Yes, Bill, criminals can rise to power in other countries too. You may recall my opinion of the National Party.

          And yes, it is my strong opinion that doing business with human-rights criminals is a mistake, no matter how powerful they are.

          “Saluting the strong mothers of June 4th victims.” A small ad that ran on June 4th 2007. Speculation is that censorship has been so effective that the editors at the Chengdu Evening News didn’t understand its significance. Four of them lost their jobs.

          Long live grass mud horse.

          I can sense a name spelling change coming on…一个匿名的家伙

          • Bill

            That’s almost quaint. I mean, who would you do business with if human rights violations was your bar? No business with the UK. No business with the US. No business with Russia…or Turkey…or Israel…or Saudi Arabia, Iraq, France and on and on and on, including NZ.

            And no business with corporation after corporation after corporation.

            As for wiping Tiananmen Square from the record. yup. It’s shit. But just about every country you care to mention has done the same or similar with regards any threat to legitimacy it experienced from the ‘unwashed masses’.

            p.s. Back to the original point. What was the apparent threat that was made?

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              Yep, world trade would look very different if I made the rules.

              There’d be fewer jobs being outsourced to countries with shit wages and conditions, for example. There’d be less reliance on cheap disposable waste of resources. Oil company executives might have to explain themselves.

              That would suck, eh.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              As for the “threat”, I’m not sure what a threat would look like in diplomat speak, but I’m picking it wouldn’t exactly be overt.

              • Bill

                Apparently it was multiple threats (according to the post header).

                And the post claims

                … that New Zealand trade to China and investment from China is at risk

                And the link goes to a piece ‘China sends warning…’

                But when I read the link there was nothing but positive words being said about NZ investment opportunties in China. And mere speculation, vioiced explicitly as a personal opinion, that foreign investors might have some reservations about investing in NZ.

                And so I asked where the threat was?

                And you didn’t perceive anything threatening in the piece either. But then you’re willing to confound your own perception by allowing that there may well have been a threat but that you are not qualified to discern it. That’s just plain strange in my book. But there you go.

                • Kotahi Tane Huna

                  Here’s the thing see, Bill, I’m not the one who said there was a threat, that was JH. So if you want to know what he means I may not be the best person to ask.

                  However, Mr. Cheng is running with the line that we’re all racists. I think that might have implications that could be considered “threatening”.

                  • Bill

                    Nope. No-one said ‘we’re all racists.’ Cheng is quoted as saying

                    Some people…sensitive…to the term, ‘China’.

                    And two lines later in the article he’s attributed as saying that he didn’t think that had anything to do with the Crafar deal.

                    So, nothing threatening there. N’fact, he’s bending over to be nice and (imo) contradicting or denying the bleeding obvious.

                    But yeah, my original question was intended for James and I noticed he has commented on the matter of threats… just not as a direct reply to my original comment.

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      Well, sure, if he’d acknowledged that there are other concerns. Like for example, he could have said “I realise that the fact that New Zealanders are prohibited from owning land in China makes us look like hypocrites”, or “I know many of you are uneasy about doing business with powerful dictators”, or “If you said these things in my country you would be dead”, but he didn’t, did he? He said

                      “I know there are some people in your country who are very sensitive to simply the term ‘China’.”

                      “Perhaps they could not accept the changes in China and the fast-growing and prosperous economy”.

                    • Bill

                      To be honest, I think what he says is reasonable. There was a time when the US was viewed in almost identical terms by the British and those loyal to Britain…a fading power that was about to have to come to terms with its upstart usurper.

                      Just been searching for a good piece on the phenomenum that I read on Asia times Online a while back, but can’t find it. Was the diary of an American woman in Hong Kong(?) having to live with and deflect the fears and ridicule emanating from the British (individuals, press and publications of the time) just as the US was becoming a rising economic power.

                      The parallels were fairly obvious to today’s general commentary on China

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      I have no doubt that you can find many articles that support your position.

      • Populuxe1 1.1.2

        New Zealanders are racists – or at least extremely xenophobic. I’ve lost count of the number of friends of mine from Eastern and Southern Europe who have come here on working holiday visas, and couldn’t even get an interview because they had a “weird” name. Accents are an immediate red flag – some of the insults levelled at British and German acquaintances defies belief. The crap that has been spouted about Muslim women who choose to cover their faces is another example. It’s real, and it’s very embarrassing.

        • Vicky32

          New Zealanders are racists – or at least extremely xenophobic. I’ve lost count of the number of friends of mine from Eastern and Southern Europe who have come here on working holiday visas, and couldn’t even get an interview because they had a “weird” name. Accents are an immediate red flag – some of the insults levelled at British and German acquaintances defies belief. The crap that has been spouted about Muslim women who choose to cover their faces is another example. It’s real, and it’s very embarrassing.

          Absolutely correct Populuxe.  I remember reading Der Spiegel in the lift at work once, and being screeched at by some little man who whined that “NZ soldiers fought the Germans once”. I pointed out to this little idiot that my English family had seen the Germans up close and had their house bumbed out from under them, and so what?
          I’ve caught hell all my life for the real English accent I had when I started school to the (imaginary) South African accent some idiot landlord claimed I had – and refused me a flat for!

    • QoT 1.2

      Maybe I’m blind, but I don’t see where the threat comes into it.

      Sure, Bill. And when, in the cliche, the stay-at-home mother tells the naughty child “You just wait till your father gets home”, she just, you know, means that there is still time to elapse until the father comes home. There’s nothing threatening about it at all!

      • Bill 1.2.1

        I see no explicit threat and I see no implicit threat either. But if you’d care to point out what I missed, I’m all ears.

        • QoT

          Oooh, and when Prince Humperdinck tells Buttercup, “I would not say such things if I were you!” all he means is that her subject matter is inappropriate for a family movie.

          • McFlock

            …  and when James Cagney says “it’s a swell store you have here, be a shame if it somehow  burned down”, his character was simply expressing admiration for the establishment and that it would indeed be a shame if an accidental fire were to damage it in some way.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              We’re just a bunch of ingrates.

            • QoT

              When Ralph tells Alice “POW! Right to the moon!” he’s merely being aspirational about the potential of manned missions into space.

              • Bill

                okay okay. Maybe I’m being dumb (as well as blind). So let’s say there’s a threat implied.

                ‘Half’ the people here didn’t or don’t want investment from China anyway. And yet it seems those same people are now flapping about being threatened with a lack of investment.

                If I’d preferred domestic investment to foreign investment (a pox on ‘both’ investment houses, as it were), I’d be cock-a-hoop if I thought China and others weren’t going to invest. I wouldn’t be all fucking upset at some ‘threat’ to business investment. I’d have won that battle, no? And I could wander these islands I don’t own or control so much as square inch of and wax lyrical about ‘my’ land…and maybe doff my cap to ‘true kiwi’ elites and land owners I pass on the way?

                And if China is going to make it more problematic for the likes of Fontera to invest there, well whoop-de-doo, shit! Who cares? We (ie you and me – ordinary people) are screwed anyway and will continue to be screwed whether NZ businesses get profit making opportunities in China or not.

                • QoT

                  It’s sweet how you think constantly moving the goalposts is especially clever. Plus, conflating “foreign [money] investment” with “foreign land ownership” – it’s a great trick.

                  • Bill

                    Wasn’t intentionally moving any goal posts.

                    If land ownership is the issue, then (if the threat is real and realised), Chinese business interests will not be looking to buy any land in NZ…or will be ‘thinking twice’. And if land is the issue, then (as far as is constantly claimed by various commentators) no NZ business interest is able to buy land in China anyway.

                    As far as financial investment goes, we get screwed no matter what. And it’s not the case we will somehow magically get screwed less if NZ businesses are making huge overseas profits or attracting foreign investment.

  2. JH 2

    The mere fact the Embassy called a press conference on this is the threat. Or do you think it’s normal for a political counsel to make that kind of statement over a supposedly private deal?

    Funny, I don’t recall statements from the Canadian High Commission when their pension fund was blocked from buying Auckland Airport.

    Oh, forgot about that, eh? I guess it’s not just Chinese attempts to buy strategic assets that get blocked

    • Bill 2.1

      The mere fact the Embassy called a press conference on this is the threat

      You have to be fucking bullshitting mate. Is that seriously the premise you wrote the post on? The embassy didn’t call a press conference on this! It’s right there in the article you linked what topics were covered and the fact that they were being held all over the show.

      Mr Cheng’s comments on Crafar farms were part of a wider briefing which included reading out translated excerpts of recent press conferences with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

      Similar briefings were held in Chinese embassies around the world.

      Topics covered included Chinese opposition to uni-lateral sanctions against Iran, mutual responsibility in the Sino/US relationship and the need for, and progress of, political reform in China.

      (emphasis added)

      • vto 2.1.1

        Wake up Bill. It is a threat.

        • Bill

          What’s a threat?

          • higherstandard

            The fact that a chinese chap actually shared an opinion apparently.

            Twilight zone stuff, although as is usual with the MSM and blogs a bit of sensationalist reporting gets the proletariat grumbling very easily.

            • vto

              Are you guys thick? A political employee. At the Chinese Embassy. Saying that if you do x then y may well happen.

              But yeah perhaps you’re right and it is all just a nothing. In fact why did they even waste their time calling the press conference. Go back to sleep everyone.

    • Sam 2.2

      Seems to me that when any overseas government official starts to meddle in another sovereign state’s internal politics – that is interference.
      There have been enough posts on this website decrying that very fact.
      So here we have a chinese government official supporting a chinese government backed company in an effort to buy some NZ farms. The decision on that sale will be made by the NZ government after statements from this chinese official are now part and parcel of that decision making process.
      The NZ government is now in a position to stop the sale, citing this political interference by one chinese government official.
      Upshot – the Crafar farms stay in local hands, one chinese official is recalled with severe loss of face and John Key can tell the chinese government “sorry but your man stuffed things up”.

  3. Nick K 3

    I look forward to Labour’s economic plan being centred around no foreign investment into New Zealand. And I further look forward to Labour explaining that to the people who will lose their jobs as a result.
    [I’m not Labour. They don’t have to explain a policy based on your extrapolation of my posts. And which jobs would be lost if Pengxin can’t buy Crafars? JH]

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      There is no need for FDI. It brings in nothing and creates nothing. If there was demand for those jobs before the FDI then there will be demand for those jobs after the FDI is removed.

    • vto 3.2

      It is not about foreign investment Nick K, it is about foreign ownership of land. They are two completely different things.

      There can be investment in business, just not ownership of land.

      The two issues are entirely different and let nobody tell you they are one and the same. It grates me that this difference is never brought up when the likes of Bill English refer to it as being foreign investment. It is not. It is about ownership of the land.

    • I think that would actually be a good idea.  Since when has overseas investment in New Zealand actually helped New Zealand?

      • RedLogix 3.3.1

        The problem is not so much that ‘overseas investment’ is in itself a bad thing; it is that it is so often conducted on very unequal terms.

        One symptom of this for instance is that New Zealanders usually have to pay much higher interest rates when borrowing to invest. Or as exporters they face all manner of indirect barriers to entry in global markets. Or legal and commercial systems in other countries hugely biased towards their own nationals.

        There is no question that the G10 nations and their associated trading blocs strenuously tilt the playing field in their favour; leaving a small nation like NZ with little effective recourse.

        Until there is a considerable shift towards greater global equity, democratic accountability and fairness.. New Zealand should ensure that it’s own interests are the priority. Anything less will always be a sell-out.

  4. vto 4

    One of the main reasons given by the likes of gosman and others around here in support of foreign landlords was that at the end of the day they cannot take the land with them. In fact gosman said at one stage that as long as they have no influence then it is ok.

    And here are the Chinese trying to influence BEFORE the land is even owned for fucks sake. Imagine the influence that will be brought to bear once ownership passes. This is where the whole sovereignty issue arises.

    Thank you to the Chinese government for outlining this risk in stark terms.

    And I certainly do not like being labelled a racist when I have consistently opposed ANY foresign ownership of our land. Just like the Chinese government.

    I am flabbergasted and appalled on so many levels at this action.

    It is an indicator moment and it should warn us completely away from all foreign landlords.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      It should warn us away from all foreign investment as the threat levelled is that we will be cut off from the rest of the world if we don’t open up to becoming serfs for foreign rich people.

    • Bill 4.2

      Exactly what sovereignty do you guys imagine you have at the moment? Seriously. You, me, we have bugger all power or authority as things stand. So what is it you imagine will be lost or diminished? Whether a ‘lord’ is domiciled or foreign makes not one iota of difference to our state of affairs. We own nothing and we control nothing…which, funnily enough is, in some ways, a more precarious position than most serfs were ever in.

      But go ahead and nobly bang those patriotic drums….

      • vto 4.2.1

        That was a lot of sentences to say one thing, which is already answered.

        And further, your line of logic leads to interesting places. Think fulla think.

      • Jackal 4.2.2

        The problem with foreign ownership is that it brings an expectation of foreign values into our lives… and I don’t mean the cultural values that should cherished, I’m talking about the values that New Zealanders on the whole don’t share with many foreign “investors” that have largely destroyed their homeland environments.

        The irony is that the environmental destruction has earned vast amounts of money to enable investment in other countries. Such values that have led to the worlds potential destruction should be feared as to let them gain a hold will mean an end to the Kiwi way of life. We don’t want our productive farmlands that if managed properly can yield a profit and sustenance for centuries to come to be mined just to support an industrial giant that will eventually collapse.

        We own our decisions and they greatly impact on future generations and their ability to live in a country that is not governed by the very powers that are currently destroying our climate. If you want to call that banging a drum or patriotism, go right ahead.

    • RedLogix 4.3

      I know it’s only an anecdote but we were looking to buy a business a few weeks ago and the agent involved … who is a senior with one of the biggest in the game… mentioned along the way that in the last few years the numbers of Chinese nationals buying NZ businesses in the $3-5m range has increased dramatically. Right now he thought they consisted of about 30% of the market. Once they decided to buy something he said… money seemed to be only a minor hurdle.

      Within a decade he thought they would be 100% of the market; within 20 years they would own most businesses and farms in this country.

      The Chinese are in empire expansion mode, and little NZ is just something to be gobbled up along the way. Of course the Chinese approach to the task has it’s own unique flavour. It’s roots lie deep in the Han traditions of family-based merchantilism, guanxi, and now spurred on by a generation of ‘little emperors’ (like the erstwhile and disturbing Wayne we had here a while back) who are imbued with an aggressive sense of entitlement and destiny.

      Recent global empires, the British and the American each had their own features. If we look to these examples as the ‘definition’ of empire we will miss the obvious. Empire is a ‘wealth pump’, it’s sole purpose is to expropriate all resources from the subject territories and pump them back to the centre of the empire.

      As providers of raw materials for industry in another nation, the plantations of the South were the business end of a wealth pump; the Southern states may not have been directly ruled by Britain but, economically speaking, they were as much a part of the British Empire as Canada or India. The Southern upper class, like upper classes in Third World nations today, benefited substantially from their role as guardians of the pump’s intake pipe, but the fertility stripped from Southern soils to provide cheap cotton for Lancashire mills still represented wealth pumped out of the Southern states for the benefit of Britain.

      A survey referenced in this article suggests that most Chinese living in this country do not consider themselves New Zealanders. China is their prime loyalty. This is much the same dynamic as when the English colonised New Zealand in the 1800’s; most of them still considered Britain as ‘home’. Crucially during this period is when most land, resource and mana was stolen from Maori. It took 3-5 generations and a 150 or so years for this colonial mentality to gradually transform into a New Zealand identity.

      This country has already been brutalised at least once by a wave of empire and colonisation; we are still dealing with the wounds and bruises from it. Frankly the Chinese can take their empire mongering and shove it. We don’t need it.

      • higherstandard 4.3.1

        I know it’s only an anecdote but most of the Chinese I know living in NZ consider themselves NZers and they’re all good sorts, of the those I’ve worked with in the past and present I can’t think of any that I wouldn’t want as my neighbour or work colleague.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I suspect it depends upon when they came here and their reasons for doing so.

        • RedLogix

          Fair comment hs. So are the Chinese nationals whom I work with, and my comment above said nothing to the contrary.

          But it’s important to distinguish between prejudice which is essentially personal in nature, and empire which is profoundly political. Two different things and the conversation is easily muddied if we conflate the two.

          Also relevant is this Pablo post over at Kiwipolitico.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            I think the real reason the SIS has been banned from monitoring MPs is to prevent them from taking a close look at who owns the National Party, never mind the NCP.

        • Ten Miles Over

          We should sign a treaty with them, then in 150 years time we’ll be riding the gravy train.

        • starlight

          It is not the chinese people that most nz’ers have a problem with,it is the chinese govt
          we object to and prospect of the chinese govt having a foot hold in our country
          which is a dangerous scenario,also how the chinese govt treats their people.

      • Mark 4.3.2

        \”A survey referenced in this article suggests that most Chinese living in this country do not consider themselves New Zealanders. China is their prime loyalty.\”

        No big deal. Those surveyed at least shows they were honest. I know Italian New Zealanders in their second generation here who support Italy over the All Blacks. Most Samoan New Zealanders, Tongan New Zealanders are the same. As do Indian New Zealanders. Look at the wave of Tongan patriotism in particular during the RWC last year.

        Ask your average Samoan or Tongan (even among those born here), who they would support – their ancestral country or the All Blacks…..even you know the answer to that.

        And of course those few Australians and Americans who settle here also retain a love for Australia and America respectively.

        In the US, Hispanics feel the same about their home countries, and even Irish Americans, while fully assimilated, have strong feelings for Ireland.

        It takes a few generations for these old loyalties to subside.

        • RedLogix

          Fine… it’s pefectly normal. As I went on to describe the earlier generations of settlers to this country who long talked about “Mother England”. And that during that period from around 1860 through to say 1980’s was when the Maori where systematically robbed of almost everything we could exploit and send back home. We are still recovering from that.

          It is that attitude makes them colonisers, not indigenous. Their cultural reference point is their ‘home country’ and it’s interests, not this country’s.

          If your up for another round of colonisation then just say so honestly.

          • Populuxe1

            When was the last time you heard a Pakeha say “Mother England”? People eventually assimilate.

            • felix

              You might want to read his next sentence too. It’s relevant to your interests.

              • Populuxe1

                Yellow Peril, much? I gather you don’t hang out with many second generation plus Chinese people then? You greatly overestimate the ability of the PRC to “colonise” an OECD nation with a seat on the UN, and the protection of International Law (so – not remotely comparable to Maori, who were basically invaded – the analogy is ridiculous) – and while I would prefer to only lease NZ land to foreign interests, I’ll say now you can shove the racist “colonisation” rhetoric up your arse because you obviously have no idea what it means.

                • RedLogix

                  You haven’t been paying attention. You don’t have to ‘invade’ a country to effectively colonise it. All you have to do is make it economically dependent and then you can write the rules of the relationship however you like.

                  Oh and quit with the tired “Yellow Peril” cliche.

                • felix

                  Hey Pop, if you’re accusing me of something specific could you please state it clearly for the record so we can deal with it in detail?


                  If not you can blow it out your arse as you usually do.

                  • Populuxe1

                    OK Felix, I think you sound like a xenophobic bigot. Clear enough for you?

                    • felix


                      Now can you please point to some of the xenophobic, bigoted things I’ve presumably written that have led you to that conclusion.

      • ak 4.3.3

        Frankly the Chinese can take their empire mongering and shove it

        Well frankly, Red old bean, I welcome it. The last lot of pasty, cold-blooded landlords and exploiters didn’t actually turn out all that spiffing, and the China I’ve observed at close quarters has a far richer soul – and an actual heart. Given a choice, I’d prefer the one that hasn’t actually invaded another country – let alone dozens.

        • McFlock

          Except several countries it borders, some more successfully than others.
          Anyoe who thinks China as imperial ruler will be more benevolent than the US or England knows nothing about Chinese history. Or internal politics and demographics (depending on how you want to count Tibet and that one in the NNW that eludes me atm)

        • RedLogix

          In 1840 the various iwi comprising the Maori people in this country had just come through the 40 year Musket Wars, in which Michael King authoratively estimated that some 40% of their own population had died. A genocide on a remarkable scale.

          It was one of the prime reasons why the Treaty of Waitangi was signed; for many, many Maori a future as citizens of the global empire of the day probably seemed in prospect a lot brighter than what they had just endured.

          Prior to 1840 many iwi had welcomed various white people (often whalers and sealers originally from the USA, as was my family) into their lives because they saw the potential economic and social benefits of doing so. But the crucial premise of that relationship was one of equality. That any future relationship between the iwi and the wider world might proceed on the basis of legal, social and economic fairness.

          And indeed until around 1860 things more or less proceeded on that basis. Maori enthusiastically embraced their new commercial opportunities, especially around flax, food and coastal shipping. The Land Wars changed all that.

          And the fact that the Chinese have not invaded anyone …says nothing about the future. After all prior to the 1899 USA invasion of the Phillipines… they hadn’t invaded anyone else either. (Well not unless you count their expropriation of a large chunk of Mexico as Texas.)

          I respect your opinion ak. I’m not unsympathetic to what you are saying. Yet if we look at the overt threats being made here by the Chinese government, the subject of the OP… does that not also give pause for thought?

          • Bill

            Just for the sake of accuracy. Hadn’t invaded anywhere except for (and excluding all invasions of indian territory) :-
            Argentina 1890,
            Chile 1891,
            Haiti 1891,
            Hawaii 1893,
            Nicaragua 1894,
            China 1894-5,
            Korea 1894,
            Panama 1895,
            Nicaragua 1896,
            China 1898-1900
            Cuba 1898
            Puerto Rico 1898
            Guam 1898
            Nicaragua 1898
            Samoa 1899

            And the invasion of the Philippines was in 1898 according to the same source


            • RedLogix

              Well that’s the whole point of the JMG link I provided earlier around the various modes of expansion of the US empire. Initially it’s expansion was internal until they ran into various natural limits… then all of a sudden in the 1890’s we see them testing the waters with numerous ‘interventions’; culminating in a major exercise of military muscle half-way around the world in the Phillipines.

              China’s ‘go global’ strategy arises from a totally different context and will proceed along a different path, so comparisons at a superficial level are always confounded.

              But the underlying dynamic is always the same; the stripping of resources from the periphery and the pumping of them back to the centre. That is always an unequal relationship; and apart from the local elites who get well rewarded for guarding the local intake of the pump… everyone else gets screwed.

              During the height of the Irish famine, the country was still exporting food back to England.

          • ak

            Too true Red, she’s a hard road finding the perfect coloniser. But quibbling over the character of bidders for stolen goods is a bit rich from pakeha, innit.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Given a choice I’d go for NZ being NZ rather than a larger powers footstool.

  5. Foreign Waka 5

    Where is the Maori voice on these issues? Selling NZ assets means that you have to rent your own country one day. So where is the political voice on this? Why are Maori party representatives who were so “involved and vocal” some 4-5 years ago keeping silent?

  6. vto 6

    You do realise all you silly foreign landlord supporters, that the reason we supposedly have not enough capital in New Zealand is that we have always let foreigners own everything. Since colonial times.

    If only we were allowed to own stuff here then our capital base would go through the roof.

    This will require some thinking on your part.

  7. Treetop 7

    I get pissed off time and time again about not having decent legislation to fall back on regarding contentious issues. Such deals should not be even considered until the legislation is in place to not come off second best in ones own country by any outsider.

    Lease the bloody land.

  8. It is known that some time ago the US,Australia,NZ had a discussion about keeping
    the chinese (gvt) out of the south pacific as the push to ‘flash the cash’ was
    starting to grow and controls needed to be put in place, so what the h–l is key and
    national doing? selling off our land outright to the chinese govt(penxign) and the
    latest revelation is that key is on a $3.5 mil yacht partying up large while he hocks
    of nz,his determination to wrap us up in the chinese govts type of respect for
    humanity, as evident by the impoverished people that work for $5 a week.The latest threat from the chinese govt shows the total lack of respect for our
    democracy,nz does not need to have the chinese oppression here in nz.
    When the chinese people are living in absolute poverty and those who work
    get $5 a week,no wonder the govt and leeches have ‘cash to splash’,the chinese
    govt should be looking in their own back yard before trying to dictate the odds
    to nz.
    If the chinese wish to end the FTA, so be it,there are other country’s that could
    fill the void,india,america,brazil,canada,to name a few, at least the products would
    not be dangerous and filled with chemicals.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    If we assume that:

    1. The presence of Chinese (or other) foreign buyers drives up the price of NZ assets


    2. That the money stays in NZ (unlike the Crafer farm deal).


    3. The sellers have more available to them to invest in other assets such as businesses etc, which is likely to be beneficial to NZ in terms of jobs and overseas earnings.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      Which still doesn’t do anything for NZ. Those jobs would have still been there, the resources would have been there and all we really needed was for the community to back the start up of the business through distribution of the needed physical resources.

      • tsmithfield 9.1.1

        Um, yeah. Anything you say!??

        Of course, the Crafer farms are currently owned by foreigners (an Australian bank). I understand they are having kept it operational pending its sale.

        Imagine the financiers were Chinese. In that situation, it would have been Chinese owned already. What if the Chinese financiers kept it operational pending sale, and it took a looong time to get an acceptable price?

        • Draco T Bastard

          It would still be just as bad. FDI, of any type, is bad for the economy.

          • tsmithfield

            Yeah, right. Just remember that next time you want to borrow money to buy a house.

            • Grumpy

              But the money to buy a house probably comes from kiwi depositors. Just lent back to kiwi borrowers with an Aussie bank profit gouging in the middle.

    • DH 9.2

      Err, can you not see that the first cancels out the third? The NZ seller would reinvest in the very market that’s just seen asset inflation. They wouldn’t have more to invest because prices went up by a similar amount.

      If we follow the same reasoning…..

      1/ Foreign investment pushes up asset prices

      2/ Higher asset prices lead directly to a higher cost of running a business, whether through higher rents, more interest on borrowing or higher ROI demands

      3/ Foreign investment reduces the productivity & competitiveness of NZ businesses by imposing higher costs.

  10. Descendant Of Smith 10

    Let’s not forget of course that this is all payback for the Asian Crisis in 1997 that developed from roughly 1993 onwards.
    The flow of US dollars into Asia in initially setting up cheap manufacturing, the use of US credit to create a bubble, the popping of the bubble and the subsequent forced restructuring of the countries economy that meant the US companies (financiers) ended up with their money back and those countries citizens owed the IMF the debt.
    (sound familiar? – seen something like that recently?)

  11. Mark 11

    I had a look at the linked article and it seems the only part which could be construed as a ‘threat’ is this:

    In his personal opinion, declining the Shanghai Pengxin bid meant other potential Chinese investors may make a “second consideration”.
    Investors from Australia, United States, United Kingdom and members of the European Union may have the same reservations, he said.
    “I think they will take a very cautious stance as for the future investment in your country, but that’s my own view point.”

    Well is he not just stating the obvious? Obviously the Chinese have found it more difficult to invest in NZ than they previously thought. So they may make a “second consideration”. That is hardly a threat, and is probably just a response to a question that was asked of him by a journalist (the article does not make this clear.

    In fact is this not a good thing? It should provide comfort, not alarm.

    Surely, a ‘threat’ implies the possibility of something negative. But has said something that should be seen in the eyes of most of us here a positive thing.

    If he had said the opposite, ie China is going to go even more hard out to secure more investment opportunities in NZ, and the Crafar rejection would only encourage more investment from China, not less, —then that would be a ‘threat’, surely – at least to those of us here averse to foreign investment.

    As for his mention of investment from Australia, US, etc being affected, I’m pretty sure China has little control over the decision making process of Western investors. A threat implies the ability to control the outcome. So the statement about the affect of the decision on Western investors, was an observation. Not a threat.

    In any case, it seems that the Crafar related statements were made in response to questions from journalists. I am not sure on this, but would be great to see a transcript.

  12. Fortran 12

    The best thing Helen (and Phil) did was the China Free Trade Agreement.
    Will Labour and the Greens repeal this ?

  13. Poission 13

    The Chinese problem,is complex.Foe example we have countries exporting both jobs and industries to regulatory regimes,that have both lesser requirements to say environmental governance or employment.

    That imbalance in trade in most western countries.The positive feedback this entrains is the loss of local investment,payroll,and local and central taxation ie fiscal deficits local and central governments.

    Whilst obviously good for shareholders,( a good example would be Apple with 75b$ cash overseas)

    Politicians of any ilk,are hesitant to point the bone so to speak at the obvious.The present Govt is arguing that we need increased investment income in the next few years,one could argue that the repatriation of insurance from OS would be substantive.The enhanced local investment in timber milling etc would be wealth creating.

    A cannot identify any wealth creating opportunity for NZ in the farm deal,excluding mitigating loss’s for the lenders.

    Their maybe a trade off here though,they lose the Crafer deal,and get Tiwai point.

  14. Mark 14

    It is that attitude makes them colonisers, not indigenous. Their cultural reference point is their ‘home country’ and it’s interests, not this country’s.

    RedLogix: Well then I suppose those Samoans and Tongans who earn money here and send it home are also colonisers?

    Probably those Chinese buying business could well be here on the business investment scheme where they are required to put down loot as part of the proviso for staying here?

    Have you evidence that these small businesses are earning here simply to ship the profits back to China?

    A lot of immigrants do tend to start up businesses, often because it is easier to do this than get into the workforce, because of discrimination by employers, the ‘kiwi’ experience requirement, and cultural and language difficulties – real and perceived.

    But business is in fact a second choice to many. Chinese (and Japanese) considered business as somewhat of a dirty thing until quite recently. It is well known that Confucianism despised merchants, as selfish, always placing profit making first – contrary to your assertion that Chinese have a long history in what you call ‘mercantilism’. The merchant, while rich was lower on the social strata than peasants and soldiers.

    Most Chinese parents will encourage their children to eschew business, if they can, for the stable professions such as medicine and engineering and increasingly law. Those skills are hardly ‘imperialistic.’

    Look at the PhD programmes at the Auckland U Engineering school. They are flush with Asians. In fact 85%, if not more, of the PhD researchers in earthquake engineering there, are either Chinese or Indian.

  15. Poission 15

    Another problem with the fta is that it is not a level playing field. Duties on milk products have a long sunset clause eg.

    A longer phase-out period applies to certain “sensitive” dairy products:

    * Tariffs on cheese, butter and liquid milk will be phased out over 10 years.
    * Tariffs on whole and skim milk powders will be phased out over 12 years.


    The other more global problem is the fixed currency ,if the currency was floated some estimates are an increase of 25-30% removing the China margin,and making local industries more competitive.

  16. The Chairman 16

    Key’s failure to clarify rules around foreign investment leads Chinese counsellor to heed warning?

    In a briefing to media at the Chinese Embassy, political counsellor Cheng Lei said, in his personal opinion, declining the Shanghai Pengxin bid meant other potential Chinese investors may make a “second consideration”.

    Investors from Australia, United States, United Kingdom and members of the European Union may have the same reservations, he said.

    “I think they will take a very cautious stance as for the future investment in your country, but that’s my own view point.”


    Earlier this month a warning was issued to foreign investors to steer clear. Investing in New Zealand is likely to see you caught up in legal battles and direct action from citizens determined to protect their own interests, both of which will be lengthy and costly and have an adverse impact on the value of your investment.

    The Overseas Investment Office is currently reconsidering an offer by Shanghai Pengxin after the High Court over-ruled the original decision to accept the bid.

    In September 2010, the government toughened up rules by giving responsible ministers more power to decline Overseas Investment Office recommendations on foreign bids to purchase New Zealand assets.

    The failure of National to clarify the rules has led to confusion in the interpretation that initially saw the bid accepted, only to have the courts later overrule the decision, which has no doubt disappointed and left offshore investors confused.

    It’s time we draw a clear line in the sand.

  17. happynz 17

    Mark writes…

    Most Chinese parents will encourage their children to eschew business, if they can…

    Funny, as that’s not my experience at all. I’ve spent much of the last decade flogging the English language in classrooms where almost all the students were from the PRC. I can’t recall a student that wanted to go into engineering or medicine. They all wanted to be CEOs. It was all about a wink, a smirk, rubbing fingers together and a murmur of, ‘Make money.’

    Then again, a mate of mine who is a maths professor from Spain spent a year on an exchange programme at University of Canterbury and he thought it odd that none of the PhD students were Kiwis. Most of the candidates were from Asia and Europe.

  18. Mark 18

    RedLogix prattling on about Chinese ’empire building’ is rather pathetic.

    Firstly Chinese investment in NZ is still pretty small compared with other countries. Like really small.

    New Zealand can say NO at anytime and the Chinese are not going to force the issue, much less send their navy in.

    To compare a minuscule amount of Chinese investment to British colonisation in the 19th Century is like comparing the operations of a takeaway to the actions of a bank robber.

    Firstly, much land was confiscated from Maori in the wake of the land wars. Chinese are not confiscating land, far from it–they are offering top dollar for the land. And if NZ refuses to sell, the Chinese will simply take their capital elsewhere.

    Secondly, it is not about Chinese ’empire’ building. It is about Chinese capitalists keen to invest their money overseas for a profit. Like capitalists do everywhere in the world. Including New Zealanders.

    The fact that a few Chinese businessmen want to invest in New Zealand, is no more ’empire building’ than New Zealand businessmen investing in South America and Asia are ’empire building’ for New Zealand.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      Secondly, it is not about Chinese ‘empire’ building. It is about Chinese capitalists keen to invest their money overseas for a profit. Like capitalists do everywhere in the world. Including New Zealanders.

      Wow. Your analysis is both fundamentally commercially and culturally flawed.

      The Chinese aren’t here to make paper profits. They are here to secure access to scarce and depleting real resources.

      And we as a country are stupid enough to swap those real economic resources with them in exchange for shitty worthless printed paper.

  19. JEFF ZHOU 19

    Calm down,I suggest you to talk with senior lecturer Malcom of management department from Otago University, I am sure he will explain why Chinese were angry with high court’s decision and media’s misleading information, he is expert of Chinese business culture, ask him what is “face value” and what it means to Chinese.

    As an immigrant from China (skill category), I have been living in NZ for 10 years, personally I do think selling the farmland or any land to foreigners are bad idea for a long run, but when the investors from USA, UK, Germany…….have been buying a very large number of NZ farmlands, NZ media have never talked about the same issue as they raised from Chinese bid, they were talking about how many employment opportunities their investment could create and how economically beneficial to NZ,once Chinese investor come to buy the farmland, media, the politicians and people started to demonize Chinese and Chinese investors, this is race issue, please do not deny it.

    Of course, you can say we do not want to deal with Chinese, we like to deal with American, German, British…….., that is fine, just stop doing business with Chinese, import and export. Just don’t tell Chinese we are strategical partner when Kiwi want to export to China and invest in China, and tell Chinese we do not need your investment because you have death sentence, you are communist country, you are not democratic country…….blah blah, especially after China’s central bank has promised to help rebuilding Christchurch, why do not you ask German or American to help you? They are biggest buyers of NZ farmlands.

    China is the second largest exporting market for NZ and will be the No. 1 in 10 years, they just want to be treated equally especially after FTA, NZ companies have already gotten many competitive advantage from the FTA over the other countries.

    please read this report from Otago Daily Times, see the very different attitude with regard to the farmland purchase when German came to buy the high productivity central farmland——It was expected 20 full-time equivalent jobs would be created through the development period, dropping to 11.75 full-time staff once development was completed, Mr Rowan said. Do you know Shanghai Pengxing has signed the strictest purchase agreement with the seller of Crafar farm.


    [ link fixed – Bill]

    • RedLogix 19.1

      once Chinese investor come to buy the farmland, media, the politicians and people started to demonize Chinese and Chinese investors, this is race issue, please do not deny it.

      No. There has always been considerable disquiet around the sale of farmland to non-resident owners, but it does not always get much media attention. Sometimes it does, for instance when the Canadian Shania O’Twain purchased a large Otago property some years ago it met with a substantial opposition.

      The Crafar farms were in the media spotlight right from the very beginning… well before the Chinese were involved. Therefore it is not surprising that the media continued to pay it attention.

      In addition most New Zealanders have not until very recently realised that almost 10% of our arable farmland has already been sold… and this has energised a lot of the opposition to the further sale of land to anyone… Chinese, German, whoever.

      And finally the Green Party always formally opposed the sale of land to any overseas owners. This is not a new policy and pre-dates the FTA. Now the Labour Party has changed it’s policy too there is a coherent political opposition on this matter.

      And yes, from experience we have good reasons to be circumspect about our dealings with China. That is a fact you will not want to acknowledge… but it is our choice and that fact you cannot dodge by playing the ‘race card’.

      • Bill 19.1.1

        Red. as far as I recall, the O’Twain ‘storm in a teacup’ was about the building she was going to construct and something about tramping tracks.

        Anyway. I’m a permanent resident and so I take it you would have no objection were I to buy farmland in NZ? Now, what about the fact that I do not think of myself as ‘kiwi’, or a New Zealander, and never will? Does that impact on your thoughts on the matter at all?

        I’ve been thinking off and on about this. It’s no secret that I’m against the sale of the crafar farms. But unlike some, I’m not picking and choosing over who would be an acceptable buyer and who wouldn’t. Looking at the choice here, it’s Michael Fay or a Chinese company.

        If people against the sale of the Crafar Farms to Chinese interests were arguing for nationalisation instead, then at least there would be a mark of difference between them and those that just don’t want a Chinese purchase to go through because of perceptions (right or wrong) of ‘what China is’…or of those who are saying they are opposed to sales to foreign interests on the notion that they have some sovereignty at stake.

        The NZ state has sovereignty. You and I have none. We might believe we have sovereignty through our identification with the NZ state, but in reality we have no effective control over land or it’s use besides the ‘negative’ control that comes through protest. So we can protest to have land free from mining for example, but we can’t protest ‘positively’ to have land used for specific purposes. I don’t know if I’m expressing that very well – the difference between ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’. But anyway…

        In a market, the quote ‘anonymous guy’ uses below is the basic reality. And NZ, being quite small in the scale of things has prospered (or sought to prosper) in the past through submission to Britain and latterly the US etc. And more recently, there has been talk, off and on, of tying the NZ $ to the Australian $. Again, the idea is that through submission NZ would prosper. (I don’t think it would. I think it become an impoverished ‘peripheral state’ of Australia much like PIGS are to Germany and France, but that’s by the by.)

        The long and the short is this. If we are going to accept the market as the arena within which trade takes place, then the big guys are going to subsume the wee guys. And the days of the wee guys having the wherewithall to preserve a ‘sense of self’…to protect themselves by excercising a degree of economic autonomy…are gone.

        Even putting aside the fact that the reserve bank is ‘independent’ and therefor not subject to the direct control of parliament, free trade deals trump national policies and obstructions to free trade simply result in countries or governments being fined etc in court.

        And so fnally, I can’t see how trying to pick and choose between this buyer and that buyer on non-economic grounds can fly in the long term. The ‘game’ is fixed and runs on naked economic considerations alone….unless one of the very big guys decides otherwise.

        So what is the alternative? I can only see two and they are both long term strategies. A call for nationalisation that may well gain a groundswell of public support but no government favour in the short term. Or consistent arguments against private ownership.

        • RedLogix

          In brief.. because I have a train to catch. The problem is not international investment or trade. The problem is that in the current world such relationships are inherently unequal.

          • Bill

            I didn’t say there was anything wrong with international trade per se. What I’m suggesting is that the rules which govern trade are a problem. It’s those rules that create inherently unequal relationships in both trade and ownership capabilities.

            The question then becomes one of what to do about those rules that create asymmetries of power and suggest alternatives to them. And that’s something the current debate isn’t tackling and so hasn’t developed beyond a basic and kind of infantile ‘stating of loyalties’.

      • JEFF ZHOU 19.1.2

        Yes, it is your choice, you decide to sell the farmland to American, German, Canadian,…..not to Chinese, vice versa, let’s see what Chinese government will do, they have high court too. I understand and support NZ government to change overseas investment law and regulation with regard to farm sale, 30-50 years lease is the best solution I think, but not start from Crafar. The business relationship is critically important for New Zealand in next 50 years, much more important than the NZ’s traditional European market. For China, New Zealand is a tiny market;for New Zealand , China is a huge dinosaur market. Of course, KIWI does not need to pay extra respect to Chinese business partner, you just need to treat them equally, which makes them feel they do lose “face”.
        Be rational, do not be emotional, we were talking about business, you have  to balance and make tradeoff, it is the meaning of strategy.

        • Colonial Viper

          China will respect NZ more if NZ smartens its act up and realises the true value of the natural resources that we have in our own country.

          At the moment, China reckons we are typical western capitalist chumps for letting them buy up our valuable resources with their worthless US T Bills.

  20. 一个匿名的家伙 20

    Jef Zhou: “Equally” – so, how about for every 1% of NZ land we sell to China, we get the right to buy 1% of Chinese land. Would that be equal?

    If not why not?

    If it makes so much sense for us to sell our land, why doesn’t China adopt the same policy?

    “If a large country submits to a small country
    It will seduce the small country;
    If a small country submits to a large country
    It will seduce the large country;
    The large will submit in order to control
    And the small will submit in order to prosper.”

    Control? Prosper? Am I missing something?

    • Bill 20.1

      Going by that proposition, then whatever %age of foreign land bought up by Fontera or any other NZ company or individual would lead to a corresponding %age of NZ land being made available to particular foreign interests.

      Which I guess would put businesses from countries of a smaller land area than NZ way out ahead in terms total acreage under control.

      Meanwhile, you and I still have sovereignty (ie, control) over diddly squat.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 20.1.1

        The proposition was intended to illustrate the flaws in the idea of “equality” between a nation of 4 million and 268,021 km2, and a nation of 1.3 billion and 9,600,000 km2.

        • JEFF ZHOU

          how do you judge the equality among New Zealand, China and superpower USA as a biggest overseas farmowners of NZ? USA has tariff or non tariff barrier on import from New Zealand dairy products, USA just demanded NZ to hand dear dotcom.

          • Colonial Viper

            USA just demanded NZ to hand dear dotcom.

            yeah well that was our Govt bowing to US pressure. I don’t like it, and I don’t like our Govt bowing to Chinese pressure either. Get it?

      • Colonial Viper 20.1.2

        I think the point is that unlike us, China is not stupid enough to sell us strategic coal reserves, the Three Gorges Dam, or top farm land.

        China is not even stupid enough to sell us their prime grade phosphate rock to make fertiliser out of. They keep that all for themselves and don’t export any of it.

    • JEFF ZHOU 20.2

      一个匿名的家伙, Of course you cannot buy land in China, neither to Chinese. But we were talking about business,  think about the two scenarios below:
      1. You got something to sell, we got something to buy.
      —You choose to sell to American, Canadian, German……,not Chinese, it is discrimination.
      2. You got something not for sale or you do not want to sell, we got something to buy.
      —–It is no discrimination, we cannot buy, it is fine, we respect your decision.
      We do business, because you got something we do not have and you want to sell (for example, farmland, meat), I got something you do not have  and we want to sell (for example, rare earth metals), New Zealand can buy rare earth metals from China, because you do not have, or you do not want to pollute your natural environment, can Chinese decline your purchase of rare earth metals because Chinese cannot buy rare earth metals from you?
      Please do not tell me you don’t want to sell farmland, NZ has been selling a large number of high productivity farmlands to North American and European investors (both private and corporates), very recently, German syndicate and Hollywood film maker, but as the second largest business partner with NZ, Chinese company bought only very few farmlands.
      Think about your logic and rationale.

      • 一个匿名的家伙 20.2.1

        I have long opposed the sale of NZ land to non-residents. I know you are using “you” to mean NZ, but I am not NZ.

        China can and does restrict access to the market in rare earth metals. My logic and rationale are just fine thanks 🙂

        • JEFF ZHOU

          how do you judge the equality among New Zealand, China and superpower USA as a biggest overseas farmowners of NZ? USA has tariff or non tariff barrier on import from New Zealand dairy products, USA just demanded NZ to hand dear dotcom.
          —I just use an example to show you the logic and rationale, because you talk about Kiwi cannot buy land in China as a reason to refuse Chinese bid.


        • 一个匿名的家伙

          Trade and land ownership are two different things, as is surely evidenced by the fact that I can buy China’s goods but not China’s land.

          But that is not my only concern – I think “free” trade with any dictatorship is a mistake, although I know there are certainly good arguments on both sides of that question.

          My use of two different languages in my “handle” is becoming unwieldy (like Excalibur, perhaps) – I’ll use “Kotahi Tane Huna” from this point on.

          • JEFF ZHOU

            But in fact, New Zealand did sell a lot of farmland, high productivity farmlands to American, German, Canadian……….. as a result of trade.
            By the fact that I can buy New Zealand’s farmlands if I am an American or Canadian, German………
            Please do not deny the fact, of course you can choose to discriminate Chinese investor, vice versa. Do tell me NZ does not care about it.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              Please read my comment above. “I have long opposed the sale of NZ land to non-residents.” American, Canadian, German, whatever. Unless you live here I don’t think you should be able to buy land here.

              I’m not talking about what other New Zealanders may or may not think, although there has been plenty of opposition to land sales to non-residents: I am expressing my personal opinion.

              I also think it is a mistake to sign free-trade deals with dictators. Again, regardless of their ethnicity.

              • JEFF ZHOU

                You really think China is a dictator country???tell you what, China is under the rule of one party system, but not necessarily a dictator country.

                • Kotahi Tane Huna

                  Obviously China’s political circumstances are more complex than your average dictatorship, but yes, that’s the essence of it.

                  I hope it changes.

      • vto 20.2.2

        Jeff, do you understand the reason why 70% of New Zealanders dont want land sold to foreigners? Because it is not referenced in your arguments.

        Also, I’m curious…. why does the Chinese government restrict the sale and ownership of Chinese land? Genuinely curious – please tell me.

        • JEFF ZHOU

          Probably because China does not have enough land or farmland for its huge population, even Chinese themselves cannot buy it, we can only least 70 years, or because of the heritage of communism??? But it is not the key here, as I said above, “We do business, because you got something we do not have and you want to sell (for example, farmland, meat), I got something you do not have and we want to sell (for example, rare earth metals), New Zealand can buy rare earth metals from China, because you do not have, or you do not want to pollute your natural environment, can Chinese decline your purchase of rare earth metals because Chinese cannot buy rare earth metals from you?
          Please do not tell me you don’t want to sell farmland, NZ has been selling a large number of high productivity farmlands to North American and European investors (both private and corporates), very recently, German syndicate and Hollywood film maker, but as the second largest business partner with NZ, Chinese company bought only very few farmlands.”

          I think the rationale of economy, market, marketing etc is based on the facts that “I have you do not have; you have and I do not have” and we make exchange.

          • vto

            Jeff, I think you miss a fundamental point in that land and trade are not the same. They are in fact entirely different and it is this issue which goes to the heart of the reason for opposition to foreign landlords.

            All life is not trade and money.

            Land is what we need to walk on, sleep on, grow our own food on (not that for export), laugh, fight and play on. It is what our communities live on and thrive or deprive on. And a tenant community is a weak community. Land is life.

            Trade of goods is entirely different. It is a shame the two things are constantly confused (intentionally by this government). Trade is money.

            This is the crux.

            • Bill

              Communities simply do not ‘laugh, fight and play on’ etc on land that is somehow not subject to trade (read: private ownership) – or did you miss the appropriation of the commons?

              And private ownership is private ownership is control. And those who are not owners have no control or say (or often) basic physical access.

              And the non-owners – those without voice or say? -that’s you and me vto, whether the owner is a NZ consortium, a Chinese company, or a ‘Big Eyed Bean fromVenus’. It is not our land that is for sale, it belongs (rightly or wrongly, but certainly legally) to the owner.

              And it is not our sovereignty at stake – that resides with the state and we have none whatsoever, beyond that we afford ourselves through delusional self identification with the state.

              • vto

                Appreciate the subtle tangential argument you are trying to make there Bill and I’m sure it has relevance at times, but in this context it misses my point re communities and foreign landlords when all else is equal.

                And do you really think that buying and selling land to and from foreigners is the same as buying and selling underpants to and from foreigners?

            • JEFF ZHOU

              I understand “Land is what we need to walk on, sleep on, grow our own food on (not that for export), laugh, fight and play on. It is what our communities live on and thrive or deprive on. And a tenant community is a weak community. Land is life.”
              That is why I feel strange why Kiwis don’t realize the importance of land when they sell a large number of high-productivity farmlands to USA, Canada, German…… untill Chinese came to bid under much more strict condition.
              More recently, Hollywood film maker just bought a large farm, and German corporate bought a large farm in central Otago, German corporate just bought a large farm last year, which media looked quite happy with the purchase because the purchase would created 20 job opportunities, see, they were talking about the benefit of land trade with German.

              • vto

                Excellent, good to hear we are on the same wavelength when it comes to the importance of the ownership of land in a community (whether NZ or China or anywhere). The same principle applies everywhere. Also good to see an acknowledgement that our current system of selling land to foreign landlords is considered plain dumb and without any good reason.

                Your point re possible racism against Chinese is I guess understandable to an extent, but be reassured that this opposition has in fact been going on since long before the Crafar deals. There has been equal opposition to other nationalities purchasing, even the Germans (don’t mention the war).

                In addition realise that the Crafar farms have been in the limelight for ages for all sorts of reasons – dirty dairying, finance companies, over-leveraged farmers, poor animal husbandry, scale of the debt, Michael Fay, foreign ownership risk. The issue would have blown up had the potential purchasers been any nationality.

                Your sensitivity around racism against the Chinese is justified, but not over the Crafar deal. The Chinese have had a raw deal since their arrival here at the same time as the euros. I have no instant answer to that. Racism seems to be a human problem on a worldwide scale.

                • JEFF ZHOU

                  As I said at the very beginning, I think it is a bad idea to sell land to overseas investors permanently, 30-50 years lease is good and reasonable option, it is long enough for overseas investors to get the return on investment, and the land is still in the hand of next generation of Kiwi, probably a win-win situation. But, but why it should start from Chinese investor?
                  As you know, the early Chinese immigrants came to New Zealand, they had to pay head tax, which cost them 15 years to pay off, and they were not allowed to bring their wife and kids to here. Same as Shanghai Pengxing, for purchasing Crafar , they had to sign an agreement  with the strictest conditions ever, that is another reason I think this is race issue not political issue or economical issue, of course eventually, it will become an economical issue and political issue.
                  Anyway China’s Central Bank has already signed the memo to help rebuilding Christchurch, Helen Clark and John Key are not stupid, they know how important the relationship between NZ and China, they both strongly support FTA.
                  Again, it is unnecessary fro NZ to give Chinese investors any privilege, just treat them equally as you treat American, Canadian and German investors……….

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Land sales over 5 ha. to ANY foreign investor shall be heavily curtailed under a Labour govt. Fair’s fair, as you said.

                  • KJT

                    There may be some racism in reactions to the Crafer deal, but some of us, myself included, have been opposing sales of land and assets offshore to anyone, since the 80’s.
                    There is some opposition also because the Chinese Government is a lot more ruthless than some others. And Chinese commercial entities, like US ones are, could be supported militarily and financially by their Government, to our disadvantage..
                    My own Chinese relations are with me in opposing sales of land to any non citizens. Of course, Chinese should have the same rights to become New Zealanders as any others.

                  • Kotahi Tane Huna

                    I would be happy to treat the Chinese government equally if it treated its citizens equally. But it does not.

                  • Kotahi Tane Huna

                    I would be happy to treat the Chinese government equally if it treated its citizens equally. But it does not.

                    Edit: weird double post?

          • Colonial Viper

            New Zealand can buy rare earth metals from China, because you do not have, or you do not want to pollute your natural environment, can Chinese decline your purchase of rare earth metals because Chinese cannot buy rare earth metals from you?

            Actually, there are very many claims that China is “choking off” exports of rare earth metals. In fact, enough for a WTO complaint.

            The complaint brought by the European Union, the United States and Japan – that China is illegally choking off exports of rare earth metals – is the first coordinated litigation at the World Trade Organization by three of the four top trading powers against the fourth.


            BTW NZ only uses tiny amounts of these minerals itself; our firms generally buy finished componentry or retail appliances which contain them.

            • JEFF ZHOU

              In fact, China is still the number one exporter of rare earth metal, even there are huge rare earth metal reserve in USA. The reason Chinese government set the limitation of exporting and exploring rare earth metal is exploring rare earth metal has been causing serious water and soil pollutions, last year and this year, several serious and urgent water pollution accidents has caused drinking water crisis in some provinces and capital cities, such as Guangzhou with 20 million populations. The more China export rare earth metal, the much more China have to spend to cure the pain of the pollution.
              BTW, China is still the number one exporter of rare earth metal. I use rare earth as an example to illustrate why that Chinese government does not allow land sale does not necessarily mean Chinese cannot buy farmland overseas.

              • Colonial Viper

                Oh well then China has nothing to worry about from the WTO then does it?

                Because my friends in the Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese semiconductor industries seem to think that they can only get rare earth metals at reasonable prices from China if they agree to build their factories inside China.

                • JEFF ZHOU

                  they can buy from USA, this is market economy.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Don’t joke. The USA’s biggest rare earth mines were closed down years ago and the equipment sold off, AND YOU KNOW IT

                    And it doesn’t change the fact that China strenuously CONTROLS (“chokes off”) the rare earth mineral quantities it makes available on the open market.

                    • Populuxe1

                      Goodness gracious, you mean like how OPEC controls oil, the US controls big pharma, and NZ controls MARMITE?!?!?!?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Wow…way to miss the point

                      1) Rare earth minerals are not substitutable. Marmite and patented drugs are.

                      2) OPEC does NOT control the oil market! Your viewpoint was last relevant in the early 1990’s. For instance Russia, Iran, Iraq, Libya are all non-OPEC oil exporters, with total proven reserves of over 400Bb of oil.

                      3) Big pharma, and corporates in general, control the US, and not the other way around.

                      Just because ordinary citizens and small countries being fucked over is the common way these days doesn’t mean we have to accept it.

                    • JEFF ZHOU

                      See, American closed their rare earth mines, they buy them from China, can China say no to American buyer because they do not sell their rare earth mines?

  21. Mark 21

    “The Chinese aren’t here to make paper profits. They are here to secure access to scarce and depleting real resources.””

    Well what about the Americans and forestry. And all the other foreigners investing in NZ land.

    Are they not here to secure ‘access to scarce and depleting resources’.

    In fact this bogeyman about Chinese and greed for world resources is close to racism.

    As a percentage of the world’s resources, Chinese per capita consume only at about 1/5 to 1/4 the rate that Americans and Europeans and Australians and Kiwis do. In terms of pollution, both now and historically, Chinese have nothing on New Zealand and the rest of the ‘West’; the world’s richest half-billion people — that’s about 7 percent of the global population — are responsible for 50 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

    The problem about ‘scarce and depleting real resources’ is not because of Chinese demand. The fact is that Westerners consume far too many of these resources. If Westerners reduced consumption these ‘scarce and depleting real resources’ would soon become a lot less ‘scarce and depleting’.

    RedLogix says “And yes, from experience we have good reasons to be circumspect about our dealings with China.”

    What are your reasons RedLogix (apart from the milk scandal –but that was largely Chinese hurting Chinese, and the upshot was huge increase in business for Fonterra)?

    From history China has far more to fear from the West than the West from China.

    The thing is China will not send the navy in to enforce the Crafar deal. But in quite recent history, when China did not want to trade with England, America, France, etc, that is exactly what these Western powers did – ie used military force to compel upon China a so-called ‘open-door’ policy for trade.

    And culturally speaking, I would say the Chinese will make far more trustworthy business partners than Westerners. Dishonesty and violence is rare in developed parts of the East, with crime rates at a fraction of what they are in the West. And if we look at Chinese living in NZ, their crime rates are at about 1/4 the rate of the general population.

    But like I said before. If NZ does not want a close economic relationship with China, Chinese capital will just go elsewhere. China will not force the issue. They have not done so yet.

    When and if they do do so is the time to start accuse them of empire building.

    Simply offering money for something placed on the market is hardly an act of aggression. It simplly offers New Zealanders a financial choice.

    The Chinese have done absolutely nothing wrong. They were offered farms for cash. They offered to pay for these farms. The courts stepped in and forbade the sale. The Chinese have walked away without threatening anything.

    If New Zealanders think they are too good for Asian money, that is fine too. No one will twist NZs arm. NZ is just not that important.

  22. Mark 22

    I want to revist this question posed by RedLogix:

    And yes, from experience we have good reasons to be circumspect about our dealings with China.

    Has New Zealand equally good reason to be circumspect when dealing with Brits, Americans, etc.

    Or are these Western countries preferable to the Chinese?

  23. Mark 23

    Just because ordinary citizens and small countries being fucked over is the common way these days doesn’t mean we have to accept it.

    How has China ‘fucked over’ New Zealand?

    Perhaps we should simply severe trade relations with China. Is that what you want?

    Basically Australia and NZ have weathered the economic crisis pretty well – because of China.

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