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CPTPP V Nuclear Submarines

Written By: - Date published: 2:45 pm, September 19th, 2021 - 41 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, defence, Free Trade, International, jacinda ardern, trade, us politics - Tags:

In a piece of incredible timing, on the same day as Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom announced their defence technology procurement pact and pissed off ally and competitor alike, China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Porgressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Very hard to see that one knew the other was coming, but you could barely describe a clearer riposte by China as a move supporting multilateral trade, versus a US belligerent and anxiety-inducing military move.

Our little role in this is that New Zealand is the repository state for the CPTPP, and it was China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao who made that submission to us.

CPTPP is the agreement signed by Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. This was the deal brought to the finish line under the leadership of Barack Obama. But you can guess what happened next: Trump arrived and pulled the US out. What was supposed to box China in, could instead do the reverse and box the United States.

For those who tuned close to the 2020 APEC meeting that our Prime Minister hosted, it was there that China’s Xi Jinping said that it would favourably consider joining the agreement.

Yes, I just linked to Global Times. Global Times opined that the application cemented Beijing’s “leadership in global trade” and leaves the United States “increasingly isolated”. They probably should have waited a day before they printed that one.

I suspect that the reality for China is going to be quite hard. The standards that Ardern and others insisted on late in the piece go far beyond tariff removal, including regulations guiding market access, labour rights, and government procurement.

We should be clear about Ardern’s central place in the higher standards between TPP and CPTPP. It was the first major international action she did on achieving power. She was neck deep in gaining those standards.

Prime Ministers Ardern and Morrisson have pretty much signed a blood pact on sustaining those high standards that they negotiated very late in the piece, as you can read from the joint statement text in 2018 here.

In theory China trying to join the CPTPP’s more stringent provisions could work the same way as the lead-up to China’s entry into the WTO: a huge and successful push for internal reforms ensued. Nor will New Zealand be forgotten as the first country to do a bilateral free trade deal with China, back in the day.

In practice, hard. Very hard. Vietnam has had to overhaul its labour code to recognise worker rights to form independent unions. With China consistently cracking down on independent labour organisations, it’s pretty hard to see China meeting that standard.

There are also pretty strict provisions on subsidies to state-owned enterprises, “free flow” of data, and opening government procurement deals to foreign competition. I’d be impressed if they can suck those up given how they jack up state corporations and ruthlessly control data flows.

Japan isn’t happy with this. But they’re quite happy to play global chess and support Taiwan’s entry.

More players will look with concern because China makes a point of sustained territorial aggression against Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Because China behaves like a diplomatic asshole, the potential for karma to be served back to it will be high.

Maybe it’s time to bring back the all-singing, all-dancing Clark-Key combination back to broker between China and the current signatories.

The United States, of course, doesn’t have any leverage in this.

The game however is if China really does go through a reform process and does show that it’s meeting those CPTPP standards, then it’s got a good shot at entry. Will multilateral diplomacy prove more powerful than deals concerning military submarine technology? I’d hope money talks better than weapons shout.

The big multilateral play is a strong intersection between the objectives and membership of RCEP and CPTPP. Here’s a summary of RCEP and the CPTPP overlaps … and what it means for us.

Whether CPTPP entry would be a win for China specifically or not, it would certainly be a win for a global rules-based order in our region over a military order. That result would be strongly in favour of New Zealand.

The real deal isn’t in the military technology pact. The real deal for New Zealand is to use trade rules to continue to win over militarism – which Prime Minister Ardern has been doing exceedingly well. A great game to have afoot with Ardern surprisingly close to the centre.

41 comments on “CPTPP V Nuclear Submarines ”

  1. Gezza 1

    "…could instead do the reverse and box the United States … OUT?"

    Yes … this a really interesting development & it's going to be rather exciting watching how this move now plays out, given the complications you describe with China's subsidies & internal Labour & state-business practices.

    NZ May indeed have a pivotal role. Wonder how the Ozzers are reacting?

  2. Drowsy M. Kram 2

    Aukus pact could push New Zealand to deepen relations with Europe and Pacific
    Nonetheless, and not by choice, New Zealand is increasingly being left behind by the nations it has been closest to for over a century. As a result, the coming years will be a test of whether New Zealand can navigate growing geopolitical tensions as the “independent” actor it has long claimed to be, or whether it will be forced to conclusively pick a side.

    Whether "being left behind" is a bad thing rather depends on the destination.

    • Ad 2.1

      Our trajectory here looks really good.

      I'm more convinced that CER, CPTPP and RCEP remain our destination. That is where our interests lie. Not Europe.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    'Twould be a good moment for China to engage with Europe – France, or at least Macron is displeased enough with AUkUs to withdraw ambassadors.

    As for the TPP and its successors, it was originally an Asian pact, among smaller nations, and had to be bent completely out of shape to let the US in. NZ was a good fit with that; but a China with hegemonic ambitions may not be.

    As with most 'free trade' deals, the benefits tend to be theoretical, but the costs are up front. Let us hope the ISDS clauses wither and die at least – the projected margins are so slender a single such action would make any CTPPA a net loss.

  4. KJT 4

    It would be ironic under the CTPP, if Oz had to allow China to bid for their nuclear sub contract. LOL.

  5. Ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Australia has said it will veto China's application to join CPTPP

    https://www.afr.com/world/asia/china-applies-to-join-pacific-trade-bloc-as-security-tensions-rise-20210917-p58sgv
    ‘He said the first step for China to join would be for members of the CPTPP to decide whether to launch accession negotiations.’

    • Ad 5.1

      Australia will be getting in line behind Vietnam and Japan and others who have actually lost territory to them.

      Contesting multilateral territory; whodathinkit?
      The US wants to join, and the UK does as well.

      Will be a fun diplomatic contest to observe.

  6. barry 6

    There is no way that Australia and Japan would let China join (at least under their current leadership)

  7. RedLogix 7

    At no point in it's history has China ever succeeded in consistently projecting power beyond the First Island Chain – because geography. It cannot trade with the rest of the world unless it's island nation competitors permit ships to pass – it's that simple. Relatively poor in it's own resources, and riven by a difficult internal landscape that enforced wide internal divisions – the nation we call modern China has far from the glorious history it likes to tell the rest of the world about.

    Medieval China was really not much different to Europe at the same period – mostly a series of warring kingdoms, interrupted by outsiders such as the Mongols, multiple competing ethnic groups made for an unstable polity. For a period a dynasty might arise, only to inevitably fall to internal strife or a competitor. The actual territory controlled by the orthodox dynasties varied dramatically over time – often much smaller than the borders of the modern nation. Development remained erratic, achieving much of promise and value – only to then stagnate or fall back again. The industrialisation of the 1800's largely passed it by, despite being well connected to the outside world. Falling prey to the Japanese Imperialists in the Second World War largely undid what progress that had been made in that century.

    Then after skulking in the mountains as as rank cowards during the entire Japanese occupancy, the communists emerge just as the Nationalists finally succeed in defeating the invaders and overcome them at their weakest moment. The CCP was founded in an act of treachery and then under the Maoism proceed to repudiate and dismantle their entire historic legacy. Everything of traditional value on mainland China was eradicated by the communists – physically, culturally and morally. By the early 1970's the people had suffered a series of mass genocides, famines and repressions. It was one of the poorest, most dysfunctional places on earth. The Maoists betrayed everything the Chinese people valued.

    It was only when the Americans actively sought to engage the CCP leadership and offered them the chance to engage with the rest of the world, and crucially to provide the essential freedom of navigation to allow shipping to safely reach Chinese ports – that finally for the first time in their history did China attain it's real potential. And only because the US led world security and trade order provided the conditions for it to happen.

    The CCP are well aware of this fact, even as they never mention the humiliating truth of it. There is far too much face at stake. Thus their determination to replace the hated Americans with a new world order they control. Having grown powerful under American protection they have now openly declared their intent to devour the hand that fed them. Born in treachery, raised in it, and now the embodiment of it.

    It's easy to be fooled by the facade of modern China, yes the coastal cities are marvels of modern construction, the railways, the apparent modernity and sophistication. By hull count it now has the largest navy, indeed it's CoastGuard vessels dwarf the frigates of many other nations. On the back of largely stolen innovation, then underpinned with the power of an authoritarian state, a modern society has been erected at impressive scale.

    (As an aside Chinese engineers are this month finally starting up the first Molten Salt research reactor in 50 years – directly using information the Americans gave them back in 2010. They will tell the world what an achievement this is – and credit must go to the engineers who have done it – but there will be no mention of the American pioneers at Oak Ridge National Lab who conceived and proved the technology in the 1960's. And there will also be silence from the anti-science greenie crowd whose decades of irrational, superstitious fear of nuclear power has directly caused the climate crisis.)

    Despite this success however the CCP also know that China remains a fundamentally weak society, most people remain relatively poor, their economy is fragile and internal dissent is being continually and systematically suppressed.

    Yes China escaped abject poverty largely by trading with America – but the reverse was never true. The US middle class paid a steep price for it and are now repaid in treachery. Nor does the US need Chinese goods so much. Their largest trade partner is now Mexico. Outside of NAFTA the US does remarkably little trade as a percentage of their GDP. And in the wake of COVID all the smart money is pulling out of China. Industry is returning to North America at pace, that continent's geography and demography ensuring that it will thrive regardless of how deeply they try to fuck it up.

    For the moment the concept of their Navy providing the default security guarantee for global shipping (even Chinese vessels) remains important to them – but if you want anything more then you'd better have something to offer. The Japanese, South Koreans and the British all discovered this – now have the Australians. US hegemony is becoming a more openly transactional affair, you will have to pay them to leave home now.

    In one comment I'm not able to say everything that even-handedness demands. The western, liberal open democracies themselves are deep in a crisis of their own making. Several generations have now been taught to despise their own heritage, indulged in decadence and coddled into cowardice. Our societies have lost a narrative to believe in, even the most basic idea of progress itself, that humans are capable of improving their lot is now widely dismissed and discounted. Our leadership elites have all too often succumbed to expediency, corruption and hubris. They openly lie to us, betray the principles they mouth and erode the foundation of trust that binds us as societies.

    Our cultural elites in the universities and media despise ordinary people, teaching that we're all patriarchal, racist bigots, and science itself is a supremacist plot. They intentionally pervert everything good about humanity and twist it into something oppressive, divisive and abusive. They literally cannot tell the difference between boy and girl anymore, much less reassure that love might redeem us.

    Just at the moment when the idea of human liberty, dignity and universality is under it's direst threat for three generations, the forces that must defend it are weak, divided and morally corrupt. This is a place we've been before, and it looks like the old lesson is going to be harshly re-learned.

    It's dark outside and this short essay is as well, yet I have an unshakeable belief that humanity will prevail over the dark forces of it's own collective psyche. But I do wonder at what cost.

    • Gezza 7.1

      A really grunty piece.

      MOD if you’re up early & see it, is there any way you can lift that text & make it a TS headline post?

      • Gezza 7.1.1

        Oh, sorry – scratch that ! Never mind. 😰

        My bad. I thought it’d been posted in Open Mike. It’s posted in the right thread.

    • francesca 7.2

      RL I particularly thrilled to your essay from evenhandedness on

      We do seem to have got to some weird post modernist convoluted space where language is warped to fit new paradigms.Academia within the social sciences is language based rather than evidence based, and becoming more divorced from reality by the day .Truth means nothing apart from the linguistically contorted case you can make for it .

      All that blurring and confusion within the culture

      And yet the black and white, good vs evil geopolitical space has no such ambiguity

      We may not know who our friends are within the culture, we're all a hair's breadth away from facebook lynch mobbing , denunciations, livelihood destruction.And how quickly things change, lesbians, having suffered and fought their way into the sun are now the new villains, bigots and genociders for not sweetly accepting the penises of transwomen

      But we surely know who our enemies are, no nuance or language mangling there.We are told every time we listen to the radio or open our newspapers

      Strange times

    • roblogic 7.3

      Thanks RL for a perspective of history that is often overlooked by a media and political class that fawns and eagerly tries to ingratiate itself with the CCP with an undignified and transparent eye on potential profit

    • Gezza 7.4

      A lot to get thru there, RL. I might just start off by saying that my old man served in 27th NZ machine gun Bn & fought the Afrika Korp in North Africa, then the Wehrmacht in Italy, up to Monte Casino, where the German defenders included the rugged, well-trained & generally fearless Fallschirmjager.

      He volunteered, about age 20 I think, thinking it would be a bit of an adventure & a chance to see a bit of the other side of the world on the nation’s coin.

      Got a rude awakening. He received a Mention in Dispatches & got a field promotion to corporal for an act of heroism, getting involved in going out of cover with another Kiwi & rescuing a wounded comrade under fire. Such acts were so commonplace in those theatres that they didn’t attract VCs.

      Years later he told me that he nearly shat himself, the enemy fire was so withering, & that he considered himself so freakin lucky to have survived that escapade he resolved never to do it again.

      He was later invalided home from Casino, with a such a complex leg injury doctors in NZ at one point wanted to take his leg off. His mother apparently intervened & they decided to save his leg, with some plates & screws. His left leg was about 1/4 inch shorter than his right for the rest of his adult life, until he died aged 88 & 1/2. He just used to get the heel of his left shoe built up the extra 1/4 inch & although he could no longer demonstrate the athleticism of his youth, he was content just to have married mum & to be able to live a quiet life, working as a public servant & bringing up a family of 4: 3 boys & our baby sister.

      He never talked much about the war, like many – probably most – of his compatriots. And when he did, it was often the little things that happened or that he witnessed in Cairo, Egypt or in Italy, that amused him. He knew those that handn’t been through it would never understand what it was like.

      As young teens, growing up in the time of the oft-televised Vietnam War, & full of the “at home, safe & secure” anti-war sentiment that was popular with youth here & around the world, we used to occasionally tease “the old soldier”. Joking was rampant in our family, especially with dad, who just took it it all in his stride. Phone calls home to me olds often began, with – when he got on the line: “Have you heard the one about …?”

      He’d sometimes gently chide us for our teasing, pointing out how lucky we were that we didn’t have to go & fight in a war, & that our freedoms were actually fought for by he & his mates.

      We had compulsory cadets at our school. In the 2nd year of cadets, I got to fire my first .22 rifles, at school range.

      The next year, in our first term, we got taught by Army NCOs to strip down, clean, & reassemble old army .303 Lee Enfields. And to fire them. On an Army range over the river, near where we lived. I didn’t tuck the bugger into the crook of my shoulder properly before squeezing the trigger & the kick gave me so much pain that firing off every bullet in the 5-round clip was excruciatingly painful. Spoilt my aim no end.

      In the 2nd term, the same Army experts taught us to strip down, clean & reassemble army surplus bren guns. What a buzz they were. No kick, in fact you had to hug them or they’d start to walk away a bit on you when you got the ok to fire a whole mag off on full auto, instead of the obligatory short bursts to start with.

      Our unit got split into two sections. After we’d had our turn on the brens, we swapped over & had to go down-range & into “the butts”, a concrete long dugout where we were safe from bullets & shrapnel & chunks of stones & clay that flew about when the rounds were coming in to the big half-man sized targets. Our job was to wind the target frames down & check where the rounds had hit, haul them back up again & indicate with a long pole with a wire circle at the end where the rounds had hit the target, so gunners could adjust their sights & see if they could better their previous shots.

      When the first group of about 10 bren guns opened up – and especially when they were given the ok to fire off the entire mag on full auto, we nearly shat ourselves. The whistling, whining, & pinging of rounds hitting the targets and exploding into the clay & stone bank behind them, kicking up occasionally-stinging ricocheting little lumps of dirt was a helluva shock. I sat there, like me mates, gritting out “shit!”through my clenched teeth. And I thought “Fark! My old man had to sit there, firing off a bloody vickers while Jerries were firing this sort of crap back at him. And he even went out running low, dodging this kind of crap, to save somebody once.

      I never joked about the old soldier’s war years after that. And I noticed, neither did my older & younger brothers, after their time on the range. And, as I got more & more interested in reading up on WW2 in my teens and twenties, out of personal interest, the realisation inevitably dawned on me that NZ’s shipping lanes really were traversed by the Kreigsmarine, & this country really was threatened by the Imperial Japanese Forces. The anti-aircraft battery on Matiu/Somes Island, & the considerable number of concrete Ammo bunkers I sometimes hiked up to in the hills between Tawa & Lower Hutt (wherethe access road is) are there because they were expected to be needed!

      My old man really DID fight for our democratic rights & freedoms. And I really am so i
      incredibly lucky that I never HAD to.

      • Tiger Mountain 7.4.1

        A family member of mine was blown to bits at Monte Casino in 1944. He is recorded on the wall at Auckland War Memorial Museum. My father, trained in Canada, came back after flying many missions over Europe as a navigator and told stories and had book shelves full of 1950s published WWII history.

        The family encouraged me as I grew up in the 60s and 70s to speak up and use the rights he hopfully fought for. Which I did and do. I don’t wax lyrical or special plead on the legacy of old soldiers–because they were all individuals and people like any of us. WWII as an anti fascist war was one war I genuinely like to think I would have volunteered for though.

        Why did some go to Vietnam to support US Imperialism? Why did not old soldiers rise up and defend workers against the Employment Contracts Act in 1991? Why did they not in numbers support a Nuclear Free NZ? There is always a class component to war, unrecognised no doubt by some participants, but it is the working class that cops the shrapnel and drone strikes.

        • Gezza 7.4.1.1

          “Why did not old soldiers rise up and defend workers against the Employment Contracts Act in 1991”

          He loathed it. Would debate with neighbours at their weekly social get-togethers. Old Labour supporter, thru & thru.

          “Why did they not in numbers support a Nuclear Free NZ?”

          Dunno. My old man wasn’t one to attend RSA clubs. He personally didn’t believe in glorifying wars. He’d lost too many mates & seen too many innocent people killed or displaced. He supported Nuclear Free NZ.

          The only thing he sometimes said that was remotely related was when he got pissed off at “louts”. Reckoned a stint of military training would do them the world of good. Teach them “some self discipline”.

    • Ad 7.5

      Much as I'm reluctant to defend China, there's some responses that need to be made.

      1. China isn't that unique despite its revolution.

      followed a very similar path of state directed development to many nations. It is pretty commonplace for state-directed development after World War 2 to be pretty strong and for decades. Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and indeed little old New Zealand went through heavy phases of state direction about what kind of industries they were going to have. China was the same. We've all come out of that phase in the same decades: late 1970s to late 1980s. So it's wrong to claim that the twist of fate in the Maoist military triumph might have some imagined alternative history.

      2. China's success has taught us that liberal democracy is not necessary for prosperity. Not a fun conclusion, but we should take them at their word that they are not merely Marxist, they are Marxist-Leninist: they have reorganised the means of production and also exert very high societal control – and are because of that not despite it one of the most successful countries on earth.

      3. In terms of complaints about defending 'our heritage", the use of I'm not quite sure where gender reveal theory comes into that, but our universities do teach more than postructural theories. In fact that stuff was only big in the mid-1990s. Humanities indeed has shrunk to a skeleton of its former self and the institutional theories within it are far more hard science based than they used to be. While Hong Kong's universities will now fall under the security law, ours have also narrowed spectacularly over the last two decades. It's not necessarily a denial of one's heritage.

      4. China's approach to innovation isn't new.

      Its 'fast-follower' innovation strategy is exactly the same innovation pathway as that achieved in the 1970s by Japan, in the 1990s by Korea, by Singapore since 2010, and by some states in India in this current decade. Occasionally they get caught, but can anyone remember the Japanese town they called Usa, just so they could legitimately stamp their goods MADE IN USA? Also we should not begrudge China's burgeoning high tech industries including space exploration and energy production: they are simply doing what Silicon Valley did and spinning off success from military innovation.

      In China, compared to the United States, consumer applications have come faster, making more obvious the link between government investment, and the products and services that benefit individuals. Alibaba, Huawei and Tiktok are not mere outworkings of capitalism as their equivalents are viewed in the west, but are instead intense sources of national pride.

      5. Their Form of State May Be Superior To Ours.

      China's success says that the modernist state is the ideal form of the state, even on a large scale. The degree of national purpose that China has sustained over decades continues to put all other larger nations to shame in their collective achieved goals and outputs. That's usually only been possible in much smaller states with a high degree of social hetereogeneity like the Scandinavian states. Until the rise of China. The success of of China as a modernist state with clear goals and very high self-belief and self-determination simply files in the face of every major reform western nations have undertaken since the 1980s.

      6. China's Autocracy Is Working

      We have to get our heads around the fact that China's authoritarian government is legitimate. Many Chinese not only don’t believe that democracy is necessary for economic success but do believe that their form of government is legitimate and effective. Westerners’ failure to appreciate this explains why many still expect China to reduce its role as investor, regulator, and, especially, intellectual property owner when that role is in fact seen as essential by the Chinese government.

      There are plenty of democracies which are deeply corrupted, and also really badly regulated. While the United States strings to mind after Trump, so does Russia and many of the weaker democracies around it. Countries like Australia and New Zealand whose economies utterly rely on China need to pull back their moral superiority and accept the full legitimacy of China's government and its systems.

      7. They Don't think Or Act Like us, and that's all right.

      China’s recent history means that Chinese people and the state approach decisions very differently from Westerners—in both the time frames they use and the risks they worry about most. But because human beings tend to believe that other humans make decisions as they do, this may be the most difficult assumption for Westerners to overcome.

      Let’s imagine the personal history of a Chinese woman who is 65 today. Born in 1955, she experienced as a child the terrible Great Leap Forward famine in which 20 million Chinese starved to death. She was a Red Guard as a teenager, screaming adoration for Chairman Mao while her parents were being re-educated for being educated. By the 1980s she was in the first generation to go back to university, and even took part in the Tiananmen Square demonstration.

      Imagine what she expects from her government. What she invests in. What she demands from her children in their growing lives.

      • RedLogix 7.5.1

        A fine response Ad. I know you well enough to take your thinking on board in good faith.

        I'll respond to your points later, but for the moment work beckons. They are well made and deserve more than some reflexive scribbles.

        Cheers

        • Ad 7.5.1.1

          It was terrible defending the Chinese government.

          Don't make me do that again 😉

          • Gezza 7.5.1.1.1

            Your point that the Chinese government has broad popular approval at home is well-made, and from my readings, & watching of various documentaries and panel discussions involving China defenders, on Aljazeera tv, accurate.

            If you've known no other system of government and you're relatively young, or middle-aged, now comparatively well-educated, well-housed, employed wealthy, equipped with all the latest mobiles and various other hi-tech gadgets, & you harbour no ambitions to make waves – life is good – for many people over there.

            The Chinese authorities have just begun cracking down in a big way on "pop stars" and pop culture – saying that these phenomena are not in accordance with Chinese values.

            As they've also clamped down on some uses of social media, will be interesting to see how their youth will react to this.

      • RedLogix 7.5.2

        In the spirit of your counter-points, and hopefully without making you feel overly compelled to defend the Chinese government again, I'd offer these responses:

        1. China isn't that unique despite its revolution.

        I've no objection to state-directed development – but virtually all the efforts under Maoism were utterly catastrophic. Isolated, dysfunctional and devastated by decades of misrule, the one-child policy was imposed in 1980 because the CCP at the time had legitimate reason to fear mass-starvation if population continued to grow.

        Geography, demography, security, transport and trade are the defining constraints on a nation's fate – regardless of whether it's political economy is state dominated or not. That's a lessor more transient concern.

        1. China's success has taught us that liberal democracy is not necessary for prosperity.

        Geography not only defines the physical constraints of a nation, it profoundly shapes it's psyche as well.

        The Chinese core territories of the North China Plain of the Yellow River are decidedly mediocre. While they sit at temperate latitude shared by other productive zones, they are hard-up against the Mongolian Desert, making them prone to drought, while most of their rainfall comes from monsoonal systems off the East China Sea, making them prone to floods. Historically the only way to maintain reliable agricultural output was to apply bottomless supplies of labor to manage water supplies. Due to this choice between state organised backbreaking labor or starvation, Chinese history tends toward the less egalitarian side of things.

        The Northern Chinese coastline also lacks good harbours, discouraging maritime development, while they also lacked a hard border to defend against hordes arriving from the great grassland steppes. This combination inculcated an inward looking, centralised, bureaucratic Han culture – and is why Beijing remains the centre of gravity in modern China, and firmly retains control over both political and military direction. Non-Han ethnic groups all get to sit into an often uncomfortable back seat.

        1. In terms of complaints about defending 'our heritage", the use of I'm not quite sure where gender reveal theory comes into that, but our universities do teach more than postructural theories.

        I'm surprised you haven't noticed the culture wars that have been raging across the western world this past decade – and their increasingly polarising divisive impact.

        4. China's approach to innovation isn't new.

        The remarkable aspect of modernity is just how widely it has spread since WW2. Given of course that the initial development of industrialisation and all the stems from that originates in Europe, it's a historic necessity that everyone else would be a 'fast follower'. Copying of technology is an innate aspect of this process.

        But while the state can afford to invest in innovation and then give it away, the private sector much less so, hence the idea of 'intellectual property'. For example the US literally gave away the IP to molten salt reactors – and the Chinese implementation of this tech is legitimate and commendable. But that stands alongside their shabby track-record of signing up to IP sharing agreements (the deal with the Germans on high-speed rail technology springs to mind) – taking delivery of the first tranche, getting trained up on it – and then openly reneging on the deal.

        It makes for a fragile, low-trust business environment that I'm not sure anyone would hold up as a superior model.

        5. Their Form of State May Be Superior To Ours.

        China's success says that the modernist state is the ideal form of the state, even on a large scale. The degree of national purpose that China has sustained over decades continues to put all other larger nations to shame in their collective achieved goals and outputs.

        Let's be clear on the timeline, all this sustained development only happens after the US invited the PRC into the world trade system. It's also predicated on a sustained program of money printing explicitly intended to under-price their western competitors.

        That's usually only been possible in much smaller states with a high degree of social hetereogeneity like the Scandinavian states.

        Or Japan, Germany, South Korea – all ethnically homegenous nations. It almost suggests that this post-modern obsession with 'diversity' might not be such a good idea after all. But that would be a racist proposition no?

        Until the rise of China. The success of of China as a modernist state with clear goals and very high self-belief and self-determination simply files in the face of every major reform western nations have undertaken since the 1980s.

        Which of course stands in total contrast to the western world. From the context of this very thread, through to our universities, media and political movements – everything about the western ideal is denigrated. For example the University of West Sydney was recently unable to establish a funded chair of "Western Civ" because the rest of the faculty hated the idea so much. On this a resurgent, 'self believing' China must laugh themselves silly.

        The idea that the CCP is universally loved and admired in China is flawed, they retain power on the back of a transactional social contract – full employment and growing prosperity for the people, stability and power for the CCP elites. It's my sense that the prospect of this contract unravelling is what is driving so much of the CCP's irrationally belligerent foreign policy as a diversion from internal contradictions and instability.

        6. China's Autocracy Is Working

        We have to get our heads around the fact that China's authoritarian government is legitimate.

        As I outlined above, there are good historic reasons why the Han people culturally lean toward authoritarian governance. This is much less true for the Cantonese speaking people of the South, the Sichuan of the interior – and numerous other smaller ethnicities. And now might be a good moment to mention the Uighurs and Tibetans.

        7. They Don't think Or Act Like us, and that's all right.

        Oddly enough the hypothetical Chinese woman you describe is quite real to me. We lived with just this person for two years in Brisbane – and you might contemplate quite where some of my views on the CCP have come from.

        • Ad 7.5.2.1

          Once I've read this new book on China's long term strategy I will reflect on it and the Lowy Institute's take on things. Hopefully that will encourage others to get into the longer-form debate.

          • Mike Smith 7.5.2.1.1

            Thanks Ad for an excellent post. I’m definitely into the longer-form debate.

            Spot on here: "The real deal isn’t in the military technology pact. The real deal for New Zealand is to use trade rules to continue to win over militarism – which Prime Minister Ardern has been doing exceedingly well. A great game to have afoot with Ardern surprisingly close to the centre."

            Your comments above are also spot-on. China's government is legitimate, and focuses on the welfare aka peace, stability and prosperity of all its people – ideals the anglophone West also aspires to with arguably less success.

            Chinese are not like us and they have a different set of value priorities, more communal and less individual and as Xi Jinping is currently demonstrating, arguably more egalitarian.

            Another major difference is their preference for long-term thinking over short-term gain. Their approach to join the CPTPP will be made deliberately and in the full knowledge that it will involve negotiation. They are much more flexible than they are given credit for. I'd also be interested to know which book you are reading on their strategy.

            But the key for us is to make sure that trade trumps guns, and peace much preferable to war

        • Mark 7.5.2.2

          "This is much less true for the Cantonese speaking people of the South, the Sichuan of the interior – and numerous other smaller ethnicities"

          Shows how little RedLogix knows. Cantonese speaking people are Han.

          • Gezza 7.5.2.2.1

            .
            Ya reckon?
            …………………………………………

            “Did you know that Han Chinese (Mandarin) is the most widely spoken language in the world? The need to learn Chinese Mandarin has certainly increased over the last two decades as China’s booming population and increasing wealth have become more integrated in the global economy.

            汉语 means “Mandarin” in Chinese Mandarin. It literally means “Han language,” that is, the language of the Han people, which are the majority ethnic group who speak Mandarin. The Chinese characters are called 汉字 hàn zì. There are over 50,000 different characters!

            Mandarin is the most widely-spoken form of Chinese, with 955 million speakers globally. It is the standard language spoken in China and taught in schools.”

            https://blog.mangolanguages.com/10-facts-about-han-chinese-language-and-culture/

    • Drowsy M. Kram 7.6

      I’d take dancing Cossacks over a skulking cowardly treacherous hateful ungrateful CCP any day – maybe you could advise the CCP on how to rehabilitate their reputation?

      (As an aside Chinese engineers are this month finally starting up the first Molten Salt research reactor in 50 years – directly using information the Americans gave them back in 2010. They will tell the world what an achievement this is – and credit must go to the engineers who have done it – but there will be no mention of the American pioneers at Oak Ridge National Lab who conceived and proved the technology in the 1960's.

      RL, you've been gun-ho here and elsewhere about the prospect of molten salt reactors delivering decent amounts of clean energy, so you must be absolutely stoked that China (a big greenhouse gas emitter, although it doesn't make the top 30 in per capita emissions) is exploring the potential of MSRs.

      And there will also be silence from the anti-science greenie crowd whose decades of irrational, superstitious fear of nuclear power has directly caused the climate crisis.)

      Regarding the "anti-science greenie crowd" (#NotAllGreenies) whose irrational, superstitious fear "has directly caused the climate crisis" – please "try and set aside some of your preconceptions for a moment" and consider the possibility that this 'crowd' isn't solely responsible for global warming, no matter how convenient it might be to lay the blame entirely at their feet.

      For example, consider that China has for some time been by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and yet the influence of the irrational, superstitious, fearful "anti-science greenie crowd" on the CCP's energy policies must have been quite small, no? Unless the CCP are in cahoots with the 'anti-science greenie crowd' – wow, just when I thought they couldn't be any more evil, along comes the skulking treacherous hateful ungrateful irrational superstitious fearful CCP-anti-science greenie alliance – oh noes!

      Or we can agree to disagree.

      Our cultural elites in the universities and media despise ordinary people, teaching that we're all patriarchal, racist bigots, and science itself is a supremacist plot. They intentionally pervert everything good about humanity and twist it into something oppressive, divisive and abusive. They literally cannot tell the difference between boy and girl anymore, much less reassure that love might redeem us.

      Altogether too dark, imho. Grade inflation and declining academic standards in NZ universities are dreadful trends, but academics now have little say in what is an acceptable level of student achievement – maintaining standards would be too arduous for students, and we can't have that.

      • Ad 7.6.1

        Drowsy, it's 'gung ho', not gun ho.

        gung ho is a catachresis of gōnghé, which simply means: to work together

        • roblogic 7.6.1.1

          & NZ's own Rewi Alley had a significant role in the gung-ho movement…

        • Drowsy M. Kram 7.6.1.2

          Thanks for the correction Ad (and the extra info roblogic) – got a bit gung ho there!

          • Gezza 7.6.1.2.1

            Gung ho

            “def: unthinkingly enthusiastic and eager, especially about taking part in fighting or warfare.”

            Amazing how the original meanings of some catch phrases get misinterpreted or morph into something completely different over time.

      • RedLogix 7.6.2

        and consider the possibility that this 'crowd' isn't solely responsible for global warming, no matter how convenient it might be to lay the blame entirely at their feet.

        I should re-phrase that line as " And there will also be silence from the anti-science greenie crowd whose decades of irrational, superstitious fear of nuclear power has been directly responsible for blocking the best option we had to address the climate crisis."

        • Drowsy M. Kram 7.6.2.1

          And there will also be silence from the anti-science greenie crowd whose decades of irrational, superstitious fear of nuclear power has been directly responsible for blocking the best option we had to address the climate crisis.

          Is nuclear still our best option to address climate change? It may be our only option to realise your vision of a hyper-energised civilisation, at least in the medium term.

          Please consider the possibility that you are over-estimating the influence of irrational, superstitious fearful organisations/movements opposed to the proliferation of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

          I feel your contempt for such activist groups, but it seems unlikely that such activism will diminish anytime soon. Even the Chinese, although late to the party, have mounted a few protests in the last 9 years. Hopefully the public will be onboard with the CCPs nuclear energy programme, including the development of MSRs.

          Chapter 18: Anti-nuclear protest in China [June 2019]
          Among the numerous environmental issues spurring collective contention in post-Mao China, anti-nuclear concerns were almost non-existent until roughly a decade ago. In 2013, a rare and relatively large-scale protest of this kind erupted in Jiangmen, Guangdong province, prompting authorities to scrap plans for a uranium processing plant. Another anti-nuclear demonstration took place in 2016 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, when large crowds protested against a nuclear waste processing facility, leading political leaders to temporarily suspend construction. Drawing on media reports and material gathered by the two authors, this chapter outlines the birth of this new kind of environmental protest, beginning with the origins of an anti-nuclear movement in China (and comparing it with its counterparts in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan) and then examining one of the two main anti-nuclear protests that have occurred so far—the most recent from 2016. In particular, the chapter dissects the methods of resistance and collective action repertoires employed in this case, and the state’s response to rising social tensions over the issue. In so doing, the chapter also assesses public perceptions of risk with regard to nuclear energy in a country where, so far, perception of said hazards seems to have been very low. What has prompted a change, and why exactly in these places, is the focus of this chapter.

          • RedLogix 7.6.2.1.1

            Please consider the possibility that you are over-estimating the influence of irrational, superstitious fearful organisations/movements opposed to the proliferation of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

            Everyone in the industry agrees that the most important factor that has been responsible for the relative stagnation of nuclear power in the past few decades has been the absurdist over-regulation imposed politically on the industry.

            Before the 1990's the industry was quite readily able to build and operate plants cost competitively with conventional generation. The dramatic rise in costs and project over-runs since then is entirely due to a regulatory regime that's pretty much designed to put them out of business. This is well-understood.

            Yet all attempts at winding back this burden, to rationalise and restore some engineering sense was stymied by their political adversaries – which incidentally included the fossil fuel lobby.

            Anti-nuclear activists might have been relatively small in number, but as we've seen elsewhere, when they have a general sentiment in the wider population behind them (however ill-informed) that either vaguely supports or does not actively oppose them – they can easily have an outsized influence.

            Look you should be happy – you get a climate crisis to be outraged about.

            • Drowsy M. Kram 7.6.2.1.1.1

              Look you should be happy – you get a climate crisis to be outraged about.

              Look, you should be happy – you get the evil CCP, the over-regulation of the nuclear power industry, the irrational superstitiously fearful "anti-science greenie crowd", BLM, 'Stamp it out, keep it out' (etc. etc.) and the ill-informed great unwashed to be outraged about.
              That’s a winning combination right there laugh

              Study identifies reasons for soaring nuclear plant cost overruns in the U.S. [November 2020]
              https://news.mit.edu/2020/reasons-nuclear-overruns-1118

    • Tiger Mountain 7.7

      @RL #7
      Historically inaccurate, anti communist bollocks. Uncle Sam says “Jump”–toadies enquire–“how high, sir”…

    • Jenny how to get there 7.8

      '

      Chinese history according to Blue iLogix;

      ……. The actual territory controlled by the orthodox dynasties varied dramatically over time – often much smaller than the borders of the modern nation. Development remained erratic, achieving much of promise and value – only to then stagnate or fall back again. The industrialisation of the 1800's largely passed it by, despite being well connected to the outside world. Falling prey to the Japanese Imperialists in the Second World War largely undid what progress that had been made in that century……

      Really?

      Straight from the medievel dynastic period to the Second World War, erazing a whole period of Chinese history. Not a whisper of the Opium Wars, not a word about the subsequent invasion and division of China by Western imperialists, the boxer rebellion. Never heard of it? Not worth mentioning, even in passing?

      Well connected to the outside world?

      You have to be joking.

      You mean by gunboats and colonial armies of occupation, and tendrils of exploitive trade leading all the way back to Europe?

      Erase the Chinese people's struggle against Western plunder, oppression, slavery and colonial rule, why don't you.

      Let's edit Chinese history to suit our pro-war narrative, why not dehumanise them, and turn the Chinse people into two dimensional caracitures, not human beings who fought for their freedom and independence. The enemy are all bad, we are all good. Never forget, we are the good guys, our brand of imperialism is the best ever. Let's just skip over those other bits. Because it is way easier to go to war and kill caracitures than human beings.

  8. KJT 8

    The foolish war mongers in the West, are the Chinese Government s best allies in keeping them in power.

    As with all totalitarians/or Oligarchs, keeping the population focused on an external enemy, takes attention away from whatever the rulers are doing at home.

    Westerners with fantasies that there will be winners in a war with China, are playing right into their hands. As the Chinese Government use the unthinking witterings, of Western Hawks to help keep their people under the thumb.

    The USA, of course, need war for enough internal redistribution to enable their economy to survive, because their leaders are idealogically opposed to supporting their economy any other way. Hence the constant war with Eastasia or West asia.

    • Gezza 8.1

      This was notable in Iran. Lots of young men & young women – and some middle-aged folk in Iran – especially in Tehran – are well-educated, speak English, have smartphones, & were active on the internet & in social gatherings, expressing dissatisfaction with Iran’s theocratic leadership & the amount of money being diverted to (& accrued by) the IRGC, & especially Quds Force’s external military activities, instead of being spent on eg infrastructure & social services at home.

      There were a couple of budding outbreaks of organised protests, principally by the young, that the Theocracy’s goons had to violently put down & stamp out. It looked like they nevertheless represented a hope for the future; that at some point in the future the Old Guard would eventually lose what popularity & authority they currently have over & the younger folk – clearly not interested in threatening the existence of Israel, or in fighting any wars,bin the ME, would eventually evolve into power & lower the temperature in the region.

      Then along came Trump, & economically squeezed the entire country, threatening them with dire consequences & possibly provoking a war with, say Israel, then the US, & trying to appeal to the people directly over the heads of their hierarchy & the IRGC.

      They all suffered, along with other citizens, from the increased sanctions & Trump’s & Netanyahu’s continual belligerence. And they reacted by largely getting behind their leadership & military because “My country – right or wrong – is under threat”.

      The assassination of Soleimani probably just added fuel to that sentiment.

      • georgecom 8.1.1

        another example being Cuba. An economy which doesn't function properly but a convenient external belligerent, the US, to pin the blame on. Sure, the US have inflicted real damage on the Cuban economy, but much of the mess also lies in Cuban hands and Cuban decisions. That gets masked by the 'easy out' of blaming the US for some things.

  9. roblogic 9

    To me the TPP and CPTPP looked like trade pacts specifically designed to counter China’s economic influence in the region, and why Trump’s exit of the agreement was the USA shooting itself in the foot. I can see why Australia would veto China’s entry to the agreement. Like all their other agreements China would enjoy the advantages but make little or no effort to uphold their own obligations.

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