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The five eyes beat up

Written By: - Date published: 1:50 pm, April 24th, 2021 - 33 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, International, making shit up, Nanaia Mahuta, spin, uk politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

There has been a conservative sourced beat up of Aotearoa New Zealand for not using an intelligence gathering treaty grouping to publicly attack China.

This speech from Nanaia Mahuta has sparked up various levels of frenzy.  I am not sure why, they should reread the speech.  I thought it deftly and intelligently staked out for us an independent world view that was both critical of China and of current International arrangements and approaches.

I thought her Taniwha and Dragon metaphor for the two countries and the relationship was exquisite.  From her speech:

Taniwha are endemic to Aotearoa but can trace their whakapapa across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean – Te Moana nui a Kiwa. Taniwha are protectors or guardians, often of water, and hold dominion over rivers, seas, lands and territories. Deeply steeped in culture, they are spiritual and one with nature. They symbolise a sense of guardianship for our people and our land and a strong belief in self.

And like the Dragon, they are powerful, auspicious, and embedded in our epistemology. They have many forms, and are a symbol of leadership, prestige and strength, and are to be revered.

We are two peoples – with characteristics and symbolism unique to our respective countries.

I see the Taniwha and the Dragon as symbols of the strength of our particular customs, traditions and values, that aren’t always the same, but need to be maintained and respected.

She suggested our approach to International Relations could be based on the spirit of te Tiriti:

As set out in my inaugural speech at Waitangi this year, I believe our foreign policy settings can be enhanced by te Tiriti.

The principles of partnership, active participation and protection can be called upon to enable equity and tino rangatiratanga (self-determination). Increasingly these principles continue to shape the type of democracy Aotearoa New Zealand is becoming; confident in our bicultural foundation, and determined to pursue our interests for those who call this land home and for those who share our values of openness, transparency, democracy and the rule of law.

New Zealand’s experience means that we can advocate with certainty for the recognition and inclusion of all peoples – including indigenous people and ethnic minorities – for their participation, knowledge and economic contribution to society. We believe this can address issues of social exclusion, poverty and inequity worldwide and at home.

And she said this:

It’s my strong view that diplomacy favours dialogue. Outcomes will be stronger and more enduring if they are built through dialogue and understanding of each other’s perspectives. However diplomacy requires commitment from both the Dragon and Taniwha to respect the tikanga of engagement. And we look for a similar spirit of respect and engagement to be shown to all international friends and partners.  As a significant power, the way that China treats its partners is important for us.

International commentators have leapt in and claimed that Aotearoa New Zealand has gone soft on China.  They missed the part of Nanaia’s speech where she said this:

Matters such as human rights should be approached in a consistent, country agnostic manner. We will not ignore the severity and impact of any particular country’s actions if they conflict with our longstanding and formal commitment to universal human rights.

Sometimes we will therefore find it necessary to speak out publicly on issues, like we have on developments in Hong Kong, the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and cyber incidents.  At times we will do this in association with others that share our views and sometimes we will act alone. In each case we make our decisions independently, informed by our values and our own assessment of New Zealand’s interests.

In our ongoing engagement with China, we will seek to extend our advocacy towards sustainable outcomes, inclusive trade, ethical investment, and social and economic inclusion.

And as Mike Smith said:

Nanaia Mahuta’s speech was themed “The Taniwha and the Dragon.” I think it is great that Aotearoa/New Zealand has decided to be clearly independent in the way we see the world, and how and with whom we will express our Tiriti values and grow our Asia-Pacific interests. We went our own way with Covid, and that should enable us  to face the rest of the 21st century with confidence.

The conservative and media response has been extraordinary.  I cannot believe that they are talking about the same speech and I really wonder if they have read it.

Idiot responses have occurred at a great pace.

Australia chose to lectured New Zealand on human rights abuses.  For a country that illegally imprisons refugees and exports to New Zealand Australians who do not have Australian citizenship that is really rich.  Calling Kiwis trash is not a way to foster good international relations.

And just because it has drastically mishandled its relationship with China does not mean that we should do the same.

UK conservative politicians chipped in.  From Latika Bourke at  Stuff:

Bob Seely, a Conservative MP, savaged the stance taken by Jacinda Ardern, saying she was “in a hell of an ethical mess.”

“A prime minister who virtue signals whilst crudely sucking up to China whilst backing out of the Five Eyes agreement, which I think is an appallingly, appallingly short-sighted thing to be doing,” he said.

Seely said Britain needed to stand instead “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Australia.

“The Australians are calling out China and they’re doing it at trade risk – we need to make sure that they do not pay an ethical price,” he said.

They need to read this part of a joint New Zealand Australian press release made last month where it was said:

“The New Zealand and Australian Governments today reiterate their grave concerns about the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. In particular, there is clear evidence of severe human rights abuses that include restrictions on freedom of religion, mass surveillance, large-scale extra-judicial detentions, as well as forced labour and forced birth control, including sterilisation.

New Zealand and Australia welcome the measures announced overnight by Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. We share these countries’ deep concerns, which are held across the New Zealand and Australian communities.

And if they had checked they would have seen that in October last year New Zealand joined 39 other nations in the UN last year expressing grave concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the recent developments in Hong Kong.

But not to be outdone Nigel Farage received prominent coverage on Newstalk ZB and the Herald to complain that New Zealand has sold its soul to China.

The Herald has reported him as saying this:

Prominent former British politician Nigel Farage has slammed New Zealand, saying the country had betrayed the English-speaking world and “sold its soul to China”.

The comment was just one of numerous damning remarks made to Newstalk ZB host Heather Du Plessis-Allan today.

The criticism comes after Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said New Zealand was “uncomfortable” expanding the task of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance to comment on issues relating to non-security matters.

The comments were taken further by overseas news agencies that suggested this meant New Zealand was leaving the Five Eyes alliance.

This rhetorical nonsense is up there with the claim that Brexit will save the UK 350m GBP a week.  In other words it is utter bollocks.  Why New Zealand main stream media will go for comment to someone whose grasp of reality is so tenuous is beyond me.

For me I welcome that our country is going to work out on its own terms how to respond to issues.  And not be brow bet into following the party line by two nations whose leadership is so clearly compromised by right wing dogma.

33 comments on “The five eyes beat up ”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    The Commons debate was from a backbencher motion


    The Minister for Asia said

    The motion before the House is that the situation in Xinjiang amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. The UK of course treats all allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity with the gravity they demand.

    As a nation, we have a strong history of protecting global human rights, but as the House is no doubt aware, the UK’s long-standing position, like many countries around the world, is that determining whether a situation amounts to genocide or crimes against humanity is a matter for competent national and international courts, after consideration of all the available evidence.

    So the official UK position is that wether its genocide of not is for national and international courts

    Well see what they say next week when Biden gives his expected statement on the Armenian genocide and wheter UK will 'affirm that'

    • AB 1.1

      Meh – they could start by condemning the UK government's genocide of 150,000 of its own citizens by not sufficiently protecting them from a virus. Something that could have been done had they chosen to, but didn't, because "the economy".
      And paying any attention to a creepy far-right congenital liar like Farrago is immediately disqualifying a a serious journalist..

  2. Ovid 2

    Five Eyes is governed by the UKUSA Agreement for joint cooperation in signals intelligence. That does not cover cooperation in other areas such as foreign policy, trade policy or defence policy.

    NZ enjoys a close partnership with Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. But we cannot assert a common foreign policy with these countries or any other country for that matter except on an ad-hoc, issue-by-issue basis as our government should always reserve the right to act in the national interest. And our interests sometimes do not wholly align with our friends either in quality or in degree.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Mahuta's relatively mild rhetoric merely reflects NZ's abject weakness as an independent nation vs China. And that fact that we're so small we're beneath even the contempt they're treating Australia with.

    To her credit Mahuta has also made it clear that NZ needs to diversify it's trading relationships; just one glance over the Tasman at how the CCP is blatantly using trade as a coercive tool is enough to convince anyone of the wisdom of not being dependent on such an unreliable, unstable partner.

    • aom 3.1

      "Mahuta's relatively mild rhetoric merely reflects NZ's abject weakness …." What do you mean?

      Weakness is joining the megaphone diplomacy of the playground bullies! That is hardly the sort of pathetically weak bullshit that NZ is renowned for! Or is there something missing, like you were present in the room when NZ said it was OK for China to indulge in human rights abuses? Perhaps you can also confirm that the other four eyes lost their spectacles (or was it testicles) when it came to holding some other persistent human rights abusers to account?

      • Muttonbird 3.1.1


      • Adrian Thornton 3.1.2

        “Weakness is joining the megaphone diplomacy of the playground bullies!”..exactly right, what no one seems to mention is that it is quite obvious that the Uyghurs are being cynically used as a political football by a whole bunch of western countries, their big business and corporations whom only a short while ago while China was acting as their primary source of cheap labour, didn’t give a shit about the Uyghurs or the outrageous labour exploitation in China…

        …but all of a sudden, now that China has become a serious global player in challenging the hegemony of those very same western corporate/business interests who have made billions for their shareholders (while gutting and destroying the working classes and manufacturing in their own countries)..now they care…do these people think we are that fucking stupid?…oh that’s right some of us are.

    • Incognito 3.2

      I see Nanaia Mahuta’s speech as a positioning move on a chessboard. The speech was clearly directed also at Aotearoa, which would have appreciated some of the references made unlike foreign press and hysterical pundits.

      For much better insights and commentary: http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2021/04/facing-facts

      • Drowsy M. Kram 3.2.1

        Thanks for that welcome alternative to the toxicity directed at Mahuta/Ardern/NZ.

      • Muttonbird 3.2.2

        It is to be noted that ex-Australian and Canterbury native, Luke Malpass, in his article linked to in the OP, dismissed Mahuta's references to the Taniwha and the Dragon, and suffered even more cultural cringe and squeamishness when she hoped that Te Tiriti might help guide New Zealand's position.

        Not a true Kiwi, I think.

        • Incognito

          It depends on your definition of “a true Kiwi”. I don’t believe and expect all ‘true Kiwis’ to wholeheartedly agree with and embrace everything Nanaia Mahuta said in that speech either.

          • Muttonbird

            I put a few barbs in there. It's my way of letting off steam.

            I read the Malpass article in detail. It was reasonably dispassionate which is what you'd expect from and experienced journalist but I was very disappointed in the complete inability to countenance Mahuta's references to Maori and Chinese mythology, and to Te Tiriti.

            I thought such language from our foreign minister was a master stroke but Malpass thought it was stupid. You can tell he’s embarrassed by the references which is sad. His position let him down as an apparent Kiwi, in my opinion.

            • Incognito

              Fair enough 🙂

              I don’t find his (Malpass) pieces consistently strong. I don’t think his piece on Nanaia Mahuta’s speech was too bad but he seemed to have overlooked a few important things.

              Malpass labelling it a “clumsy metaphor” just shows his cultural ignorance. The strong symbolic meaning and message would not have been lost on China nor on Māori.

              Mahuta’s speech did not traverse much new terrain or particularly change New Zealand’s positioning.

              I’m quite surprised by his political blindness; he does seem to have lost or ignored his political nous.

              • Muttonbird

                Did he ever have it? He'd been writing for the Australian Financial Review for many years before taking the job at Stuff.

                Hardly the centre of balanced political discourse there.

                Also, he's from Christchurch…

  4. Incognito 4

    The conservative and media response has been extraordinary. I cannot believe that they are talking about the same speech and I really wonder if they have read it.

    Idiot responses have occurred at a great pace.

    I believe they deliberately attempt to change and control the narrative into the same-old us-versus-them story. There’s no room for nuance and context, only for false dichotomies and false equivalences. People seem to prefer simple binaries; apples and oranges are all fruits so who really cares? Idiot responses are a sign it is working like a treat; any mature constructive debate is inconsistent and impossible with this kind of ‘thinking’.

    BTW, this is not limited to conservatives and (mainstream) media. Just saying.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Was this only around 18 months ago

    'The Asia editor of the Financial Times, Jamil Anderlini, tweeted: "Why is the leader of New Zealand's biggest opposition party meeting with the head of China's secret police? And why is he in Beijing with a New Zealand member of parliament who spent 15 years working for Chinese military intelligence?"

  6. Anne 6

    It seems the UK security agencies are unperturbed about NZ's stance on China. Indeed they make a point of noting that countries who are part of the Five Eyes alliance don't always agree on everything.


    British intelligence and security agencies have said they are unconcerned about suggestions New Zealand is adopting a softer line on malign Chinese activity.

    A UK security official said the Five Eyes alliance was sufficiently comfortable to be able to disagree publicly on some matters without it affecting the group's fundamental strength.

    "This is a storm in a teacup," he said.

    So much for the hysteria and handwringing from some members of the UK commentariat.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      You could almost think was a chance to take cheap shots at Ardern and Mahuta from haters in the conservative and Murdoch press. The same people who would get all bothered if Ardern led some international conference or other….you know 'mens business'

    • lprent 6.2

      It seems the UK security agencies are unperturbed about NZ's stance on China. Indeed they make a point of noting that countries who are part of the Five Eyes alliance don't always agree on everything.

      Pretty much what I'd expect. Dimwits who want to take a specialized signals intelligence network and transform into some kind of de-facto military / political alliance really should go and consult a headshrinker. They are clearly both insane and have delusions about what intelligence cooperation agreements are about.

      Signal intelligence don't really trust their other intelligence agencies within the same country or their military. They will (usually reluctantly) feed them their data, but will seldom let them know it was collected.

      The reasons for this are historical. Mostly have to do with just how fast that the blabbermouths in other branches of their government destroy their best collection systems by talking about them or what they got from them. You don’t have to dig far back into sigint history to find this out. They certainly don't trust local politicians, because they seem to leak more often than they pee.

      My favorite was the series of leaks after the first world war about cypher cracking – the most notorious being the big blabbermouth Winston Churchill leaking all of the most interesting signals work from the first world war in tell-all self-promotional biography in 1919. He probably singlehandedly made sure that WW2 was as long as it was because most countries upgraded their systems after that book came out – including the Germans and Japanese.

      I'd expect that the idea that politicians are trying to attach this political crap on top of their quiet sharing inter-sigint arrangements is pissing the signals intelligence agencies across all five eyes off.

      • Incognito 6.2.1

        Dimwits who want to take a specialized signals intelligence network and transform into some kind of de-facto military / political alliance really should go and consult a headshrinker.

        That’s pretty much the headline of Damien Grant’s smoke & mirrors piece in Stuff today 😀

        • Anne

          Dimwits who want to take a specialized signals intelligence network and transform into some kind of de-facto military / political alliance really should go and consult a headshrinker. They are clearly both insane and have delusions about what intelligence cooperation agreements are about.

          My sentiments too and expressed equally as well. angry

  7. Bazza64 7

    Someone messaged Heather Duplessi Allan on news talk ZB & made the point that we have a free trade agreement with China, but not the US or UK.

    You would think our five eyes partners would treat us better ?

  8. Malpass desperately longs to return to return to Duttonland (where he clearly regrets leaving.).

    We have more than enough loudmouth verbose kiwi etc etc Media "loudmouths.

    We do not need imports.

    I have to admit trying to find an intelligible reporter/ journalist is difficult.

    Even "nanny RNZ constantly resorts to irrelevant vox pops.

  9. Tricledrown 9

    One of the reasons for five eyes was supposed to protect us from cyber attacks

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      Dont think they do that at all. As they are scooping up the internet traffic not blocking some. The recent major cyber intrusions in US showed when its based in US the NSA was blind to what was happening

      The protection side is now done by GCSB here

  10. Obtrectator 10

    No-one capable of using the word "epistemology" is ever going to be taken seriously by the Rabid Right.

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