Reacting to the Tibet unrest

Written By: - Date published: 12:14 pm, March 17th, 2008 - 22 comments
Categories: International - Tags:

The clashes between rioters and police in Tibet that have left up to 100 dead are a particularly tough issue for New Zealand to address. Our principles tell us we should support human rights, the Prime Minister has said that New Zealand supports the right to peaceful protest and condemns any disproportionate violence against even violent protestors. However, the Government argues not enough is known about what has happened in Tibet (was it the protestors or the police that turned to violence first?  Was the police reaction proportionate?) and, so, there has been no official criticism of the Chinese Government’s actions so far.

Would any level of New Zealand criticism of the Chinese Government’s human rights record change the Chinese Government’s behaviour? No. Could it jeopardise the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement? Possible, but not likely. So, in realpolitick terms, the FTA gives New Zealand a good reason to look the other way. That’s not a good look; it appears that we have been bought off by the FTA, even though the Government’s measured reaction is the correct one for now.

New Zealand needs to show we have not sold our souls for trade. At the least, the Government should state that it supports the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination and greater autonomy as guaranteed by the United Nations Charter, and call upon the Chinese Government to ensure Tibetan culture is protected.

[Update: video of the PM’s initial reaction here, and  stronger statement here]

22 comments on “Reacting to the Tibet unrest”

  1. ghostwhowalks 1

    Helen could do what Shipley did.
    Park a bus in front of the peaceful protestors and that way they cant be seen and then dont exist.

    I guess jenny spends a lot of her time these days promoting trade with China, for a fee of course

  2. Steve says that ‘the Government’s measured reaction is the correct one for now’. That this sort of thing can be said on a so-called leftwing blog says a lot. The Standard is giving its stamp of approval to Helen Clark’s empty words on Tibet and human rights. Maybe you should change your name to The Business Standard.

    Steve also claims that ‘the Prime Minister has said that New Zealand supports the right to peaceful protest and condemns any disproportionate violence against even violent protestors’. Can you please provide a quote for this? The text that I saw from the Government says that it ‘calls on all sides to exercise restraint.’ This is total weasel words that Steve and The Standard are endorsing. Helen Clark’s rhetoric indicates that she is only prepared to speak out if peaceful protestors have been killed. It’s hard to disagree with those critics who say she’s giving the green light to shoot violent protestors.

    Furthermore, It seems that Clark now supports business over human rights. What does The Standard have to say about this. Nothing.

    Clark is a PM obsessed with power regardless of the cost of principle. She’s not so different to John Key in this regard. Both believe in nothing.

    In the 1990s Clark was very critical of the National Government not speaking out on human rights abuses. But now she’s proved that she’s no different. In the late 1990s PM Jenny Shipley complained that human rights advocates (and the Labour Party) were calling for ‘Megaphone Diplomacy’, and that such an approach was unhelpful. Clark isn’t much different to Shipley in this regard. Labour and National always fall into a foreign policy approach that is about following the ‘national interest’ above anything else.

    It’s be interesting to see how party-hack blogs like The Standard deal with issues like this. When it come to the crunch sites like The Standard will throw away any principles to protect their unprincipled leader. Meanwhile, the leftwing Against the Current blog has come out firmly, saying “HELEN CLARK: EMPTY WORDS ON TIBET’. A couple of snippets:
    * Prime Minister Clark’s response to the current Tibetan uprising is political and moral cowardice on a grand scale.
    * While the New Zealand government is quick to criticise oppressive government regimes in countries like Zimbabwe or Fiji, its an entirely different story when it comes to China.
    * Last year PM Clark described the Zimbabwe regime as ‘appalling’ and in 2005 she commented she ‘would not be seen dead’ in that country.

    See: http://nzagainstthecurrent.blogspot.com/2008/03/helen-clark-empty-words-on-tibet.html

    Bryce

  3. No Right Turn labels your approach as “Mealy-Mouthed Bullshit”

    Snippets:
    Mealy-mouthed bullshit
    * our human rights supporting Prime Minister is still refusing to condemn the Chinese government’s crackdown in Tibet.
    * Instead she’s waiting for “more accurate information” and calling on both sides “to exercise restraint”. This is the sort of mealy-mouthed bullshit issued by the US when their Israeli proxies show their usual disregard for civilian lives
    See:
    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2008/03/mealy-mouthed-bullshit.html

    Bryce

  4. Matthew Pilott 4

    Agree with you, Bryce Edwards, in what you are advocating, but can’t tie it in with the article above.

    If you’re lambasting the Standard for not being critical enough then good on you, you’re free to demand action from bloggers if you wish (although most see it as farly smug and arrogant – they can blog as the have the time and inclination. Why you see fit to demand and determine this is beyond me, usually only the trolls use this approach).

    However Steve’s article isn’t consistent with anything you’ve said – New Zealand needs to show we have not sold our souls for trade.

    versus your

    The Standard is giving its stamp of approval to Helen Clark’s empty words on Tibet and human rights.

    Not your most coherent contribution. Calling the Standard’s view as “your approach” when discussing NRT’s piece on CLARK is also plain tripe – this is the Standard’s (well one author thereof) “approach”: At the least, the Government should state that it supports the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination and greater autonomy as guaranteed by the United Nations Charter, and call upon the Chinese Government to ensure Tibetan culture is protected. Poor form Bryce.

    However I agree the Government isn’t going far enough and expect far stronger words to be spoken ad the magnitude of China’s disgraceful actions become clear.

  5. Tane 5

    Hi Bryce, I actually take a harder line than Steve but I don’t see his post as suggesting “throwing away principles” – in fact it explicitly rejects a realist response.

    Personally I think the government would be quicker to condemn the violence and a little less willing to wait for the facts if it was Fiji or Zimbabwe, and I’m concerned that with the FTA on the way there’s more of this to come.

  6. Steve Pierson 6

    Bryce, grow up and for god’s sakes get informed before mouthing off. the PM said shooting rioters was not justified and any response to violent protestors has to be proportionate on Breakfast this morning and on Kiwi FM – there’s a link on scoop.

    If I knew what has happened in Tibet was an unprovoked and voilent crackdown by the state on peaceful protestors, I would be calling for the Government to voice it’s opposition. I don’t have that evidence and neither do you.

    we should criticise the Chinese government if there has been a violent crackdown. if, bryce, if. It is not a responsible response in the real world to jump to conclusons and accuse another nation carrying out masscares when you don’t have evidence.

    I made observations about the real world impact of New Zealand making such criticisms, ie none. That, obviously, does not mean that I don’t oppose such crackdowns or wish we lived in a world where our government taking a firm stand against them would have some real world impact; i do and we don’t.

    If the evidence comes out NZ should issue a condemnation. Such a condemnation would be a, effectively, meaningless response that might have a real world effect on New Zealanders if it affects the trade deal. No responsible government can be blind to that fact, but that would not be an excuse not to issue the condemnation.

  7. r0b 7

    This kind of situation is a nightmare for any government. It throws into sharp relief the conflicting requirements of pragmatism and ideology (a couple of us were discussing on another thread last night). No matter what the government does, they lose.

    My instinct is to join those calling for a stronger statement. We should speak out strongly for human rights. However, I have to admit that following this line to its logical conclusion, we should also be speaking out strongly against say, America (for obvious reasons), Australia (for its treatment of the aboriginal population), and any number of other countries. What would be the effect on NZ?

    Consider an example of the role of ideology in politics. Bryce, where is The Alliance now? Did they do their voters any service by being logically pure to the point of self-destruction? Or would they have done their voters greater service by being a bit more pragmatic? Perhaps they could still have been a force in Parliament today…

    As I get (even) older my balance shifts from ideology to pragmatism. But in this particular case, I think we should speak out more strongly against China, even if we lose a free-trade agreement.

  8. Steve – don’t bother with Edwards. He’s nothing but a class traitor.

    Bryce – I notice you always drop in, make a point and then don’t come back to answer people’s responses. That’s called driveby trolling and it’s a good sign you know your arguments don’t hold water. Try some intellectual honesty next time. And if you get the hang of that you might want to do something of some use rather than playing out your armchair fantasies from the sidelines.

  9. Daveo 9

    Reading Bryce’s comments it’s hard to believe the guy is an academic or a leftists. The way he keeps claiming to stand for the real left while pandering to the worst elements of the Kiwiblog right is hilarious.

  10. James Kearney 10

    And that’s probably the last we’ll see of Bryce on this thread. For a politics lecturer he’s surprisingly unwilling to stand by his arguments. Must be all that time he’s been spending hanging out at KB.

  11. Steve Pierson 11

    speaking of class traitors, anyone see Bryce’s old mate, Trotter with his piece on the Independent on the Govt’s intervention in the AIA sale? Poor guy has totally lost his political compass. About the third time this year I’ve seen him argue from the Right.

  12. Tane 12

    from the Right.

    Perhaps it’s time Trotter retitled his Dom Post column on Fridays? 🙂

  13. James Kearney 13

    And sure enough there’s nothing more from Bryce Edwards. What a jerk.

  14. IrishBill 14

    As much as I dislike Bryce’s way of doing things I’m not going to allow this to turn into a thread attacking the poor bloke. I would suggest that as Bryce chooses not to defend himself he may be getting pleasure from watching the disruption he causes with minimal effort. Please either make a simple argument against what he says and move on or ignore him.

    For the record (and to stay on thread), I agree with Steve that we should take a stand against the treatment of Tibet but that we should also take a stand against the US and its treatment of pretty much everyone.

    However, having seen the treatment Venezuela has had for taking such a principled stand I am unsure any government that did so wouldn’t be ensuring an election failure and the subsequent return to ANZUS-style puppet-state that would follow. I would love to think my opinion of the electorate was mistaken but sadly I don’t think New Zealanders have the political-fortitude of the Venezuelan populace. Yet.

  15. Phil 15

    He posted at 1.25… perhaps he’s doing a real job, James?

  16. Phil 16

    And sure enough there’s nothing more from James Kearney. What a tosser.

    (How does it feel?)

  17. James Kearney 17

    Fair call Phil. Only I’m happy to defend my positions. Bryce isn’t. As the Sod points out he’s a drive-by troll and his behavior does the Otago University politics department no credit.

  18. IrishBill 18

    Do you lot not listen? Look, get ‘Sod to write a “we hate bryce” thread over at his blog or something (he could do with writing there a bit more, and perhaps here a bit less) but try to stay on topic here.

  19. higherstandard 19

    RS

    “He’s a class traitor”

    I suspect you’re taking the piss if not check what century you’re living in.

    In relation to Helen’s comments so far let’s be under no illusion she is taking a pragmatic view with a free trade agreement on the horizon both the Nats and Labour would behave in the same way despite both parties detesting the behaviour of the Chinese authorities.

    It’s a shitty position for anyone to be in but that’s the nature of international politics – let’s hope that any Free Trade Agreement with China is worth suppressing one’s principles for – I suspect however the actual benefits if they do actually come to pass with be marginal at best.

  20. Pascal's bookie 20

    I wonder also what our PM cancelling the FTA or mouthing off in a more robust fashion would achieve for the people of Tibet.

    My question would be, “If we make more of a fuss, how far are we prepared to go if the Tibetans take us at our word.”

    It’s all very well shouting solidarity but it’s a bit of a farce when it’s just them that’s facing the PLA.

    I have all the sympathy in the world for them, but there is absolutely nothing the PM of NZ can do to help. China sees them as part of China. That is not about to change just becasue some trade gets lost or people call the Chinese nasty names. If change is to come to China and Tibet, it will be through engagement.

    If the west tries to force it, well China is holding a lot of cards, and has shown itself to be more than happy to retreat into isolation as a last or even first resort. That won’t help the Tibetans or anyone else.

    I think that western governments who have sympathy for the Tibetans have to think very carefully about how much encouragement they give to protests of this sort, unless they mean to loan the Lamas some divisions … but that aint gonna happen.

    Western citizens can make as much fuss as we have the freedom to do, but governments must take a cautious line or back it up with force. Otherwise it’ll be the Tibetans starring in ‘TianamenII: The Mountain Years.’

    Call it ‘realism’ if you like, and there is a bit of devil’s advocacy thrown in as well. But there you go.

  21. deemac 21

    I love the delusion that ANYTHING the NZ govt could say would have an effect on China. The only way to go is something jointly agreed with other govts eg Oz, UK etc. Even that is unlikely to do much good but the people demanding “action” know full well it would be empty posturing that won’t stop the Chinese doing what they feel they need to do to suppress dissent.

  22. I guess black South Africans and Chileans are more valuable than Tibetans, given the efforts the Labour Party went to to campaign, rightfully, against both their oppression.

    China murders political opponents daily, it arrests and tortures many who publish alternative points of view to its own, by any measure it should be part of any bilateral relationship that this is raised at every point.

    The truth is if the Nats were in power, this blog would be all over Don Brash saying the same thing – but it is also true that the Nats would probably be little better.

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    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago

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