Diplomacy with China hasn’t failed – it hasn’t been tried

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 pm, June 5th, 2023 - 34 comments
Categories: China, defence, Diplomacy, Hong Kong, Iran, Peace, Peace, Propaganda, uncategorized, war, Xi Jinping - Tags:

Gerald Hensley was David Lange’s chief of staff when New Zealand’s nuclear free policy was adopted. He opposed what happened then and opposes it still. He now argues we should prepare for war with China.

Writing in the Post’s full-page opinion piece titled: ‘How will a self-absorbed NZ face A RISING CHINA?’ Hensley states:

In the 1980s a long period of peace led to some resentment at what was seen as a dependence on our traditional friends. We abandoned our security arrangement with the United States and declared that henceforth we would pursue an independent foreign policy.

This is a misrepresentation of the facts. Hensley manages to fill a full page article urging New Zealand to prepare for war with China now, without once mentioning our determination then to become and remain proudly nuclear free. New Zealand did not abandon the ANZUS security alliance – it was forced out by the United States, as we did not allow access of nuclear-armed or propelled ship to our harbours.

Hensley’s basic thesis is that Xi Jinping wants to rule the world. He talks of China’s aggressive nationalism, speaking of:

”China’s aim to become paramount power in the Asia Pacific and perhaps beyond is repeatedly proclaimed by its leader and by its actions over a decade. As the differences deepen we have to keep in mind the risk that the urge to rest our hopes on diplomacy will confuse and distract us from the core of the difficulty.”

The reveal words there are “paramount” and “perhaps beyond.” China has never aimed to become a power beyond its borders, but because of its history does take its internal security very seriously. This is shown in it’s determination to counter terrorism in Xinjiang and violent protest in Hong Kong.

Hensley is like many outside commentators on China, mind-readers who presume to tell us how their leader thinks. In my opinion it is much more useful to pay attention to what China’s leader actually does. Peace and stability are important values for China, as is evidenced by Xi Jinping’s recent bringing together of Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran into a durable peace agreement. This is an extraordinary, stunning  diplomatic achievement which will have important repercussions, shaping the development of that violence-ridden region for a long time to come.

Regarding Hong Kong some fact checking is in order. Hensley states that China ‘tore up the treaty guaranteeing Hong Kong’s freedoms” What China did in fact was to enact the clause 23 of the treaty guaranteeing peace and stability that the interim Government had failed to introduce. The uprising stopped and peace returned to Hong Kong.

Hensley’s solution is to abandon diplomacy and go for militarisation, on the Alice in Wonderland theory that more military expenditure will bring about peace. It never has before and it is unlikely to do so in the future. He says:

(Xi Jinping’s) policy is not to make or keep foreign friends, it is to place China at the top of the foreign policy ladder. Trying to do so imposes costs and he is willing to accept them up to a point. The point at which the costs may become too high is not when China is cold-shouldered abroad or when it is not invited to conferences but when an alliance begins to emerge that is capable of checking his dominant ambition, taking Taiwan.

He continues:

So to borrow a phrase from Lenin, what is to be done? The threat of war would galvanise the diplomats – that is what they are for – but a diplomatic solution does not seem possible unless China is willing to abandon its aim to annex Taiwan.

This is nothing short of lunacy. To treat the trivial first, it is not China that is being cold-shouldered at conferences. Chinese General Li’s speech at the Shangri-La conference this weekend was greeted with applause from around the room at its conclusion. The shift to a multi-polar world is proceeding apace at conference after conference where China is welcomed.

But calling on China to abandon its claim to Taiwan is something else  altogether. Another remarkable elision from Hensley’s article is any mention of the one-China policy, that New Zealand along with nearly every other country around the world adheres to. Hensley is arguing that we should be ready to join a Civil War inside China!

Hensley compares China to Germany and Japan as nationalist powers that were expansionist, but the comparison is absurd. A better parallel for us would be to compare the 1840 treaty of Waitangi with the 1842 treaty of Nanjing, both transacted with Great Britain. In the 1842 treaty, Britain forced China to accept opium instead of silver to pay for coveted Chinese silks and ceramics, and also forced China to secede Hong Kong to Britain as a colony.

We can therefore possibly understand how this history has played out in China’s consciousness today. The Treaty of Waitangi was not forced upon the indigenous people of New Zealand, but it was followed with a Civil War fought over ownership of land. Just as as the history of grievance has remained over time in New Zealand’s consciousness following the Treaty of Waitangi, we may begin to understand how the Treaty of Nanjing is perceived inside China. That is why saying that New Zealand should join an alliance to force China to exclude Taiwan as part of its internal political structure is offensive in the extreme to all Chinese. Taiwan is already part of China – there is no question of annexation.

Hensley makes much of the failure of diplomacy in relation to China’s role in the Pacific hence his preference for reversion to force. He does acknowledge that the consequences of such of use of force with China would be horrendous but he has no faith in diplomacy. He does however pay it lip-service:

Of course we must “keep the channels open” and keep talking with China. Of course we must lose no opportunity to try to understand its outlook and show our goodwill and desire to meet it’s reasonable needs, but talking rarely eases nationalist resentments.

As the differences deepen we have to keep in mind the risk that the urge to rest our hopes on diplomacy will confuse and distract us from the core of the difficulty.

The core of the difficulty of course is that it is the United States not China that is the expansionist aggressor. That subject is for another time.

But the starting point with anyone for our diplomacy has to be putting ourselves in the other persons shoes and attempting to understand their point of view. And my opinion our diplomats do not make much effort to understand China’s point of view.

Hensley’s article could be dismissed as that of an old Cold War warrior crying in the beer for the days of the United States alliance under ANZUS. However I hear from multiple credible sources that revisionist laments are also found in some of our current professional diplomats.

We urgently need a wide-ranging debate about our .relations with China and our supposedly independent foreign policy. In my opinion, we also need to listen carefully to what Chinese voices actually. Wemay find much to our advantage. My Fabian Society interview with Chinese ambassador Wang Xiaolong on China’s values was one attempt to hear their point of view in their own words.

Now is not the time to be picking sides, we should be looking for every avenue that promotes peace and dialogue. There is too much at stake to get it wrong.

34 comments on “Diplomacy with China hasn’t failed – it hasn’t been tried ”

  1. Ad 1

    Utopia says it pretty well here.

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    I'm going to side with Clausewitz on this one – that military force forms a continuum with diplomatic efforts.

    China has been part of a diplomatic discourse about Taiwan for quite some time. Under Xi – the improperly appointed President for life – the discourse has taken a more aggressive turn. But that's in abeyance for the moment.

    The world is waiting on the outcome of Putin's Ukrainian adventure. It is not clear that China is deterred by the spectacle of Nato armaments, but the sanctions levelled against Russia have no doubt given Xi pause. Absent a military masterstroke, Russia is poised to collapse, at least in terms of its campaign in Ukraine. Historically, Moscow governments do not long survive military defeats.

    This being so, Xi will likely prove more temperate in his diplomacy than he might have been had Nato aid proven as ineffectual as Russian regular forces.

    In the meantime, I would like to see NZ governments putting more effort into understanding the drivers of wealth or inequality among our own people. The immediate threats NZ faces from China are more how their low wage and low trust society impacts on a high cost of living Westminster descended state, than proximate landing forces either here or in Taiwan.

  3. barry 3

    Xi has been incredibly bad for China, and life in China is a lot less free than it was 10 years ago but…

    China's ambitions do not extend beyond territory that it has claimed in the past. It is looking for influence outside the region for access to raw materials, and trade. It is much less pernicious than several other powers.

    Confrontations with US and other militaries in the region can be put into context by asking what would happen if Chinese warships and planes were conducting "freedom of navigation" exercises in the Gulf of Mexico.

    As the saying goes: "If China didn't want war they wouldn't have put their country so close to the ring of American bases".

    Hensley wants us to suck up to the Americans for safety. However we need to maintain an independent foreign policy. Joining the Americans in trying to contain China is like joining the bully gang to pick on the awkward, annoying kid in the schoolyard.

    • The Chairman 3.1

      China's ambitions do not extend beyond territory that it has claimed in the past.

      Yet

      The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surpassed the US Navy in fleet size sometime around 2020 and now has around 340 warships, according to the Pentagon's 2022 China Military Power Report, released in November.

      https://tinyurl.com/5h3x8kxm

      And its navy is expected to grow to 400 ships in the next year or so.

      • SPC 3.1.1

        Both NATO/EU and now our region are facing pressures for greater defence spending (purchases off the USA) to resolve failed American policy.

        In a CC GW world

        post Iraq, Libya Syria Islamic State consequence of the failed war against terrorism (Afghanistan today), GFC and now pandemic debt,

        it speaks to a planet with risibly poor governance since the chads of Florida and the SCOTUS decision not to have a recount.

        PS The USA debt ceiling deal limits capability in domestic, defence, GW and foreign aid spending for years.

        • The Chairman 3.1.1.1

          A number of nations are building up in preparation for potential war with China.

          If the US fail to, it could very well be at their peril.

          It seems to me China are getting ready to make a move sooner rather than later.

          They're not building up all that military power for nothing.

          • SPC 3.1.1.1.1

            No they are not, they are demonstrating a capacity to build capability that the USA cannot match, to force a change in American policy on Taiwan – and the USA is seeking security partners (Trump policy to offload cost).

            The question is whether policy is to fight for Taiwan's independence from China (an act of aggression on "our" part) or to prevent their hegemony over ASEAN and our region – defend a rules based international order.

            We cannot achieve the first without risk of war.

            • The Chairman 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Taiwan will fight for its own independence from China.

              If the US fail to join them, they risk even more potential aggressiveness from China. So to do we.

              No they are not, they are demonstrating a capacity to build capability that the USA cannot match, to force a change in American policy on Taiwan.

              I don't believe it will end with the taking of Taiwan. And nor, does it seem, do a number of other countries.

              China is starting to show a more aggressive stance.

              China is going to become a big problem IMO.

              • SPC

                But it also true that the willingness to signal a collective defence of Taiwan is of a design to use that (fight on that island) to contain a feared rise of China to hegemony.

                That makes war more likely and motivates China to develop the capability to prevail despite such regional opposition – as the only way to restore Taiwan into China.

                And so also increases the risk of China having the feared military dominance afterwards.

                Cold War defence spending costs 1945-1990 in a benevolent economic environment (for the West) are not the same as in the 21st C (GFC/pandemic debt and GW impost).

  4. SPC 4

    It's been over 30 years and GH has yet to appreciate the connection between a nuclear free South Pacific and a nuclear free Europe – and the end of the Cold War (including the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact and subsequent inclusion within the EU and also unfortunately NATO).

    So I guess he failed to appreciate the wisdom of George Kennan on how to prevent Russia returning to an anti-NATO animus. And he probably supported the self defeat strategy in the war against terrorism by invading Iraq (and then turning Libya and Syria into failed states – ah the Arab spring, where for art thou). Leading to the human rights betrayal of the women of Afghanistan.

    Fortunately our governments have been somewhat blameless in this post Cold War snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory for civilisation in our time (was the PNAC the worst group of government advisors ever assembled by any imperial power not later conquered and occupied)?

    Since then those of their ilk on Capitol Hill have managed to assert some right for Hong Kong to be a democracy (something not in the 1997 agreement), which unsurprisingly resulted in activation of the above mentioned clause 23. And subsequent bellicosity over the future of Taiwan.

    Our position should be a simple one, support for the inclusion of Taiwan within China from 2049 and for the two parties to organise/negotiate (a transition) a way for the self-government on the island to continue on this basis (as per Hong Kong till 2047) after 2049.

    That said, we have an obligation to work with ASEAN and Pacific nations to ensure the rule of international law – such as respecting decisions made on matters of territorial sovereignty. That should be our firm multi-lateral posture – it is not one based on any direct confrontation of China, but one firm on historic principle and current world polity (by all but aggressor nations).

    And it is long past time when the Korean matter was resolved by the USA and China working together – US forces leave, and Beijing guarantees South Korean security (with forces at the Yalu River).

    • Belladonna 4.1

      Our position should be a simple one, support for the inclusion of Taiwan within China from 2049 and for the two parties to organise/negotiate (a transition) a way for the self-government on the island to continue on this basis (as per Hong Kong till 2047) after 2049.

      So we should ignore, completely, the right of the people of Taiwan for self-determination (newsflash, they do not want to be folded into China)?

      Do you also hold that opinion over the independence of Kosovo, or Ukraine?

      Or does it simply mean that might is right in your opinion. Small powers should hold no rights if the bully boy neighbour wants to exert their authority to take their land.

      • SPC 4.1.1

        Tell it to the states of the south in the USA back in 1860's.

        And read up a little about the history of the world around you.

        If you have no respect for international law – and in international law Taiwan is part of China, then might is right.

        It was the US fleet that enabled the partition of China in 1949 and portrayed Taipei as the capital of China and installed them in the UNSC.

        I suppose you regret our lack of participation in the illegal invasion of Iraq.

        It's in your might is right world view that China turns atolls into islands and "steals" territory and resources off ASEAN nations.

        And it's in your world where no nation has come to the support of Ukraine (for fear of the might is right Russia) – so it fights on alone. In that it is like Israel in 1948 when attacked by 5 Arab armies and the UK (on the UNSC) just moved its forces out of the way.

        We either stand for international law, or we do not.

        It's when we do not, that might becomes right.

        So you are, in fact, totally wrong on all points.

        • Belladonna 4.1.1.1

          So, in your opinion, the fact that the Taiwanese do not want to be part of China is utterly immaterial.

          You haven't exactly come out and said where you stand on Ukraine or Kosovo. Do they have the right to exist as independent territories? And if they do, why does Taiwan not have the same right?

          And, having raised Israel – do you believe that it has the right to exist as a state? After all, it was only created due to international post-war diplomacy, with a heavy admixture of post-Holocaust war guilt.

          International 'law' is a rapidly moving feast – changing with the strength of the various international powers.

          It's cute that you think you are absolutely right on all points. But makes it effectively impossible to debate with you.

          • SPC 4.1.1.1.1

            Have you heard of the collective security of (recognised) nation states?

            Ukraine is one. Israel is one. Taiwan is not.

            After all, it was only created due to international post-war diplomacy, with a heavy admixture of post-Holocaust war guilt.

            No. The League of Nations mandate transferred to the UN. Have you heard of Basel, the Balfour Declaration?

            International 'law' is a rapidly moving feast – changing with the strength of the various international powers.

            So you totally reject our historic bi-partisan foreign policy/diplomatic position and regard, might as the right.

            It's cute that you think you are absolutely right on all points. But makes it effectively impossible to debate with you.

            Do some reading before discussing/debating these topics. Way out of your depth on this.

            • Belladonna 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Kosovo?

              I have indeed heard of the Balfour Declaration – a unilateral declaration by Great Britain – without consultation with any other state – let alone an International agreement.

              I don't think this is supporting your argument for the 'rule of International law'

              Do you mean the Basel program? A zionist manifesto – written without a shred of consultation or international agreement.

              Yes, the League of Nations established the state of Israel in Palestine – on the land of a defeated participant in WW1 – and without any consideration of the wishes or rights of the people actually living there at the time.[And, effectively set up the conditions which have resulted in the running-sore of conflict there, ever since]

              That's a beaut of a 'might is right' argument.

              And, what would be the reason that Taiwan is not recognized as a state? Could it be the threat of China which prevents it? After all, it's been in existence as a de facto state for more than 70 years. Isn't it about time that China (and the rest of the world) recognized reality?

              You're the one supporting 'might is right' – at least when it comes to China.

              • SPC

                You schooling continues

                1. Before 1949 territory was/could be won in war. Not afterward.
                2. The UK did deals with allies over post war arrangements – in those days those were the rules. The Balfour Declaration was made at that time, because of advocacy to them. Promises were also made to Arabs/Arab Palestinians.
                3. The League of Nations established a Palestine mandate, run by the BE.
                4. The United Nations replaced that organisation and determined on a partition of Palestine so there could be a Jewish majority and Arab majority areas – that had self-detemination self government nation states.
                5. Only one of the two took up that right. It was attacked by 5 Arab armies – attacks on nation states were supposed to trigger collective security actions by the UN, or other members nation states. Yet Israel like Ukraine had to fight on their own.
                6. As a result of the failure of the Arabs right by might strategy Israel's borders were larger afterwards (see that international rule – 1949 – after which even nations which won wars could no longer acquire territory off others).
                7. This is why no one recognises Russia's annexation of Crimea. Might is not right.

                And, what would be the reason that Taiwan is not recognized as a state? Could it be the threat of China which prevents it?

                1. Even the USA, which in 1949 placed its fleet between Taiwan and China after the Nationalists fled there, and the Nationalists themselves claimed Taiwan was part of China.
                2. Taiwan was not recognised as an independent nation state in 1949 – in fact it was run by the Nationalist government in exile until the 1990's with no elections (a dictatorship by military occupation).
                3. Taiwan re-invented itself as a self governing area in the 1990's, but still did not claim independence from China.
                4. Taiwan still does not claim to be outside China.
                5. The USA regards Taiwan as part of China, but opposes an invasion of it by China to assert governance over it.

                it's been in existence as a de facto state for more than 70 years.

                Why did East Germany and West Germany become one state?

                Taiwan has been (democratically) self governing for about 30 years.

                Hong Kong was run by the British since 1840 and by a Treaty 1897-1997. Currently with a transition agreement 1897-2047.

                Isn't it about time that China (and the rest of the world) recognized reality?

                The UN regards Taiwan as part of China, and so does every nation of NATO and AUKUS. Taiwan cannot in international law ask for help to defend it as a nation state from an aggressor. Because it is not recognised as one.

                • Belladonna

                  Ah, yes the Society for the Promotion of China continues their propaganda.

                  • SPC

                    When someone wants the last word and have no argument to make… they reveal themselves … their petty tribalism and the arguments of their ilk.

                    The same portrayal used by the Bush regime when illegally acting in Iraq – that those not on their side were on the side of terrorists (those who use violence to get their way).

                    It's obvious you lack respect for international law and a rules based order, despite it being the basis of our foreign and diplomatic policy.

                    Apparently these are values held by some, only when convenient and tossed aside when that is no longer the case.

                    A simple question have you voted Labour since 1990?

                    I ask because a former servility to empire, or of more recent times to the American security regime is associated with a party that saw the working class and its interests as inimical to their own.

                    • Belladonna

                      It's obvious to me, that it is only in relation to China that you have your rather … limited … opinions about international law.

                      And, it's *never* OK to ask how someone votes.

                      You might want to have a think about why that might be.

                      Your comment about "servility to empire" is highly ironic in relation to your obvious partisanship for a regime which is repressive internally and territorially aggressive externally.

  5. Bruce 5

    I see there are more terrorists in Yunnan now.

    https://youtu.be/tR9IqiqidmQ

    No doubt soon to be pacified by the benevolent Xi.

  6. Gosman 6

    "China has never aimed to become a power beyond its borders"

    I believe the Tibetans and Vietnamese would beg to differ.

    • In Vino 6.1

      Gosman, who are you to speak for the Tibetans? In 1943, for the US Ministry of War, Frank Capra directed an Oscar-winning Documentary series of films called: "Why We Fight" Largely anti-Japanese propaganda, but in the 5th film "War in China" it is clearly shown (DVD reading 1.7.80) that Tibet is the 5th province of China. Clearly recognised as such by the USA.

      But in 1949 the vast majority of Chinese peasants reviled the USA-favoured option of Chiang Kai Shek, and he had to run away to Taiwan.

      At this point George Orwell's 1984 Big Brother stuff came into play. I remember the stories in the newspapers at the time: because China had had the cheek to turn communist, China was no longer our noble ally!

      A few years later China reoccupied its province, but over here China was now suddenly portrayed as the evil invader of (even more suddenly) the innocent, always-independent nation of Tibet!

      Gosman, how stupid do you think we all are?

      I remember reading on the inside of the newspaper (outside pages still had Classified ads back then) about atrocities inflicted by cruel Chinese troops. Apparentlty they put parents into ditches an made their children urinate upon them.

      I became a cynic, and I am still especially cynical about your spinnings, Gosman.

    • roblogic 6.2

      As would several other nations around the South China Sea, the Pacific, and the Belt and Road debt trap.

  7. Ed 7

    Mike, you are a rare voice of reason on this matter and on the Ukraine.

    Once upon a time, the left fought on the side of anti-imperialism and for peace, but since the time of Tony Blair, the liberal elite has become the prowar party.

  8. Ad 8

    Pretty hard to argue with China's concern about all those US military bases in the western Pacific, as well as Australia and Japan and Korea.

    For moment of imaginative bliss, we could be done a favour if the US took its military and just packed up.

    In that moment of imaginative bliss, would China simply fill the void of power?

    • aj 8.1

      History tells us that such voids are always filled. Voids are created by wars. It's a no-win situation.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    Mike Smith dismisses this Gerald Hensley article as written by "…mind-readers who presume to tell us how their (China's) leader thinks…" Before favouring us with his own clairvoyant moment, reassuring us that "…China has never aimed to become a power beyond its borders…" One would be rather more certain of Mike Smith's foreign policy clairvoyance if it were not for events to consistently reveal themselves in ways wholly unexpected by his prognistications.

    And, we are smoothly reassured, "What China did in fact was to enact the clause 23 of the treaty guaranteeing peace and stability that the interim Government had failed to introduce. The uprising stopped and peace returned to Hong Kong…" Ah yes, the violence of those pesky democracy protesters was halted in Hong Kong by the application of brutal repression, revealing a previously unsuspected predilection for utilitarianism in Mr Smith – a predilection which he fails to extend to United States policy in the region.

    Mr. Smith falls prey to a common failing that the campist left in New Zealand is rather prone to doing – to puff Chinese authoritarianism and state capitalism. This just doesn't do. The Beijing regime is a ghastly survelliance police state. It persecutes the Uyghurs and it has watched the ecocide of China's environment. The excitement that China produces in the campist left has to do with the idea that, by rupturing the Washington-led order, it creates possible alternatives. There's a hope that despite it's wickedness there is something to learn from its current dynamism. And perhaps even that, as brutal as it is, it is more rational and forward-thinking than Washington's imperialism. To me, Mr. Smith discerns in China a romantic (and presumably Maoist) third worldism, with a kind of joint dictatorship of the proleteriat of the oppressed peoples that over-throws the existing world order and one, we can shrewdly surmise, where he imagines he and his Maori sovereignty chums just happen to end up on top as the regional attack dogs for the new Napoleon in the farm house.

    And you see, this is the rub. You don't have to agree with the shrill cold war rhetoric of Gerald Hensley to realise it isn't good enough to just imagine the smashing by force of the US led world order. We have to also postulate what might replace it. If you consider that replacing the benign imperialism (for us) of the United States would be the dystopian repression and authoritarianism of Xi in cahoots with the neo-fascist irridentism of Putin, then suddenly all those US bases around China look at lot more reassuring…

    • SPC 9.1

      with a kind of joint dictatorship of the proleteriat of the oppressed peoples that over-throws the existing world order and one, we can shrewdly surmise, where he imagines he and his Maori sovereignty chums just happen to end up on top as the regional attack dogs for the new Napoleon in the farm house.

      You were not involved with the police raids in the Urewera's were you?

      The idea that overthrow/end of a monarchy is the end of an ancien regime we should regret, could end up sounding up like the white race nation dream of William Massey and so easily be portrayed as an imperial colonial order security alliance for the over-rule of indigenous peoples. Even the Papacy has apologised for what happened in Latin America.

      Presumably otherwise you would expect Maori to provide a battalion for the liberation of their “motherland” in Taiwan to prove they are not rebellious against the current Crown regime.

      A simple question, if there is a choice for Taiwan between co-existence autonomy within China or invasion – should they chose to be like Ukraine or not?

      And why is the USA committing to fight to defend Taiwan from China and not Ukraine from Russia?

  10. Corey 10

    All NZ does is diplomacy with China.

    We have bent over backwards to accommodate China, to the point we look like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix.

    We regularly sell our dignity and our history of being a nation that stands up to superpowers, for milk powder access

    We are afraid to criticize China least our economy be obliterated by a petulant China, Xi has been horrific for China's foreign relations.

    We do diplomacy with China everyday.

    I've noticed a tactic of pro China advocates in NZ to say they want NZ to have an "independent foreign policy" but what they really mean is they want NZ to further align itself with China because when we do anything that can be seen as the slightest whisper of criticism of china they rip their hair out.

    If NZ is to develop an independent foreign policy, it will still side more often than not with Australia, USA , Canada, UK and the EU because we have vastly more in common with those nations which are democracies, with free speech, workers rights, freedom of religion, right to assemble and common rule of law

    where as China, above all else is a one party authoritarian state with no protections on speech, workers rights, assembly, freedom of religion etc.

    We should absolutely develop a more independent foreign policy, which requires us to massively move beyond being a dairy farm for China, we cannot be an independent nation while being so reliant on one nation that could obliterate our economy.

    We should be friendly with everyone, willing to criticize everyone and willing to work with everyone

    But we should also be an outspoken advocate internationally for democracy, workers rights, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and right of assembly, it's who we are, it's what we believe in , pretending otherwise would not make us independent it would make us a dependent.

  11. Gray Southon 11

    To make any sense of this very challenging situation we need to recognise that there are many more countries around than the US and China, and many of them have the same challenge that we have, of balancing off the competing powers, and together we could make quite a influential impact.

    Also, we need to appreciate that war is no longer like a schoolyard bashup – with current technologies, becoming evermore powerful, the survival of civilisation is at stake. Many nations have the sense to realise that war is not in their interests, so developing ways of resolving conflict with war is paramount. Why were so many countries interested in the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons?

    Further, we need to realise that peace can be engineered in the most difficult circumstance. Consider Western Europe after WWII, where a long history of brutal warfare was turned around in a few years to form a reign of peace and cooperation which still largely holds. Strangely, this apparent miracle has received very little analytical attention, either by the international relations or the peace communities.

    So we must move beyond the incredibly dangerous and fatalistic assumption about the inevitability of war to develop other ways of resolving our conflicts.

  12. The Chairman 12

    It seems to me that war is coming.

    Therefore, we must start preparing the nation (oil supplies, medicines, etc) so it will enable us to see it through.

    • SPC 12.1

      It comes under a wider need for resilience (coastal shipping, sorting out the Cook Strait movement of goods and talks with ASEAN about distribution hubs/networks to the Tasman-Pacific).

      • The Chairman 12.1.1

        If war breaks out with China, covid supply chain issues will pale in comparison.

        Yes, building resilience is imperative.

  13. Baw 13

    Nat voter. (who is pro nuke ships)

    Agree Agree Agree.

    I listened to Kissinger recently who called for quiet back channel work with China to sort out their issues with the USA, along with some meetings between the two Presidents. Love him or hate him – his idea has merit.

    But of course there are those who will simply discount what you have written because it conflicts with their world view. Commie China bad – Democratic USA good.

    The big thing is that we must remember the lessons of 1950, when the USA got to close for comfort to China – and so they entered the Korean war and forced the USA back to the start line. China has some red lines, we must make sure they are not crossed.

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