This Election we need to talk About China

Written By: - Date published: 11:05 am, September 4th, 2023 - 70 comments
Categories: act, China, Christopher Luxon, International, john key, national, trade, uncategorized - Tags:

Yes we could do the next five weeks on teeth and taxes, but actually China is pulling us down and our political parties need to make it an election issue.

Let’s put aside anything to do with territory and military matters for now, and go straight for stuff that makes New Zealand money.

When China moved hard against Australian trade in 2020, it did so because Prime Minister Scott Morrison dared to inquire if Chinese officials had caused the worldwide outbreak of COVID. So in response Communist Party bosses had good reason to believe in hard leverage. They crunched down hard on exports of timber, coal, lobsters, barley, and wine, on pretexts including exaggerated concerns about trade practices and pest infestations. That move took down 5.5% of Australia’s total exports. Australia survived, remarkably OK.

In fact Australia last year had its biggest-ever trade surplus equivalent to more than 7% of GDP. Gradually this year the major trades have re-started. Australia’s centre-left Labor government says cotton, coal, and copper exports are all resuming.

China’s trade embargo was deliberate, targeted at New Zealand’s most important ally. It was and is a serious warning to us to not criticise China for fear of what they will do to us in an even more vulnerable position than Australia.

China now accounts for 33% of our exports. In 2018 it was 25%. Our next largest export partner Australia accounted for 11.5%. China takes a third of everything we can sell to make our way in the world.

Chinese companies own 51% of Synlait. Chinese companies own Silver Fern Farms. A Chinese company owns Westland Milk. China has also bought out key dairy brands in Australia. A Chinese company owns the largest milk processor closest to Auckland.

This year National leader Luxon was asked if he was open to direct Chinese government investment to fund his NZ$26 billion road infrastructure policy through the Belt and Road Initiative. He replied: “Absolutely.”

1 News asked Luxon about the potential consequences of Chinese government-funded infrastructure, which in other BRI countries has resulted in an influx of Chinese migrant workers and a high level of debt owed to Beijing. When pressed Luxon replied: “That’s not going to happen. That’s quite a xenophobic response and a pretty simplistic response.”

Even Act believes that is too extreme a position on China’s investment in New Zealand.

David Seymour said he had real concerns about debt-trap diplomacy”:

[W]e can’t follow the lead of Pacific nations who have accepted investment from China, only to find out they’re now in serious debt to a communist regime flexing its muscles.”

He sought to distance himself from Luxon emphasising that “If National’s transport policy leaves the door open for the Chinese government to build New Zealand roads, ACT’s well thought out transport policy shuts it.”

Even ACT gets the risk massive Chinese investment puts us in.

It is really clear now that our rural economy is vulnerable to an economic collapse in China, according to Wigram Capital principal Rodney Jones. Discussing the property market, he said that:

It’s been building over a long period of time, but the big issue is the developers are all in a process of collapse. Fraud has been endemic. There’s a lack of cash in the developers, and we think there’s something like 70 million unfinished apartments — and the total value is more than $10 trillion of work in progress.

Economic collapse is a cumulative process, And once it gets going, it takes a lot of effort to stop it, so the risks are really accumulating.”

He said the downturn would have significant effects on consumer spending in China and, with it, demand for exports – particularly the dairy exports that underpin New Zealand’s rural economy.

That’s the phrase a key local analyst is using about China: economic collapse.

New Zealand’s reliance on trade with China is not helped by the United States essentially pulling investment out of China.

In August last year President Biden signed off the CHIPS Act which provides US$52.7 billion subsidies to semiconductor manufacturing and research. It was a direct move away from reliance in Chinese chip manufacturers and the start of greater chip independence from Taiwan.

In late July this year the US Senate passed a US$280 billion bill to pull US manufacturing investment away from China and back to the USA.

Most major US companies have now pulled out of China.

Given how much power China has in New Zealand it is weird that no political party this election is spending any time analysing this situation and what it means for our economy. National’s move to enable international investors to buy property once more just seems confused given the reciprocal tax agreements we already have in place.

It may well be that at the level of Prime Minister, New Zealand’s political direction has no option but to become extremely close to China’s own leadership, which is why Prime Minister Hipkins is pretty much on the same wavelength as previous Prime Minister John Key. China’s Premier Li Qiang said to Prime Minister Hipkins in June:

Our relationship’s become a fine example of win-win cooperation between countries with different social systems, history, culture, level of development and economic size. Next year we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our comprehensive strategic partnership. China is prepared to work with New Zealand to further deepen our traditional friendship, promote our cooperation across the board, so as to deliver more benefits to our people and more benefits to the Asia Pacific and the world.”

Sure, have a mercantilist relationship. But let’s be really clear about what China stands for in comparison to New Zealand. Luxon and Key are right at the centre of enabling New Zealand to be taken over by Chinese state investment:

I think the historical issues where there has been either concern or debate, they’re not tremendously new, actually.

As I said when I was prime minister, and I’ve said since, New Zealand, if it can, wants to enjoy the best of both worlds.

A really strong relationship with our historical allies … [and] a great relationship, which may be a more mercantile-based relationship, with China.”

While Key didn’t think this meant it was smart to put all of New Zealand’s eggs in the China basket he also accepted that there were few realistic alternative markets when it came to products like crayfish.

“For as long as that market is there my advice would be to sell to it.”

That’s a pretty much identical message between previous Prime Minister John Key and National’s leader and aspirant prime Minister Chris Luxon.

So we need some reminders of why the politics of China matters to New Zealand.

The government of the People’s Republic of China is ruled by a totalitarian ideology under a one-party communist state. It deprives citizens of human rights on a sweeping scale and systematically curtails freedoms in order to retain power. People in China cannot practise religion or belief of their choice. They cannot express opinions openly, form unions, or join groups without fear of harassment. Members of minority groups are subject to mass arbitrary detention, surveillance, political indoctrination, torture, forced abortions and sterilisation, and forced labour.

The Chinese Communist Party has absolute control over law enforcement and the judicial system, and it uses both to stifle calls from Chinese citizens for freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. Those brave enough to speak out are often subject to prolonged and secret detention without access to legal counsel. Lawyers, human rights activists, intellectuals, journalists, religious leaders, and minorities are frequent targets of the state.

There is full state control of the internet and your search history, and Google, gmail, email, Youtube, and Twitter (X) are blocked, and anything you put on line as a citizen is tracked. Even Facebook has withdrawn out of China.

We have to admit a hard truth. New Zealand needs to be really clear that it cannot continue to be trade-indebted to China and also be free into the 21st century. We cannot be part of the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China that leads to them owning us.

We need political leadership that states on the line that we must not continue it and we must not return to it.

This election we need political parties that protect the New Zealand economy not sell it out, and protect our way of life not write it down to mere mercantilism. We are part of the free world, China isn’t, and we must join with other countries to ensure that we triumph against the form of world that China wants to impose.

70 comments on “This Election we need to talk About China ”

  1. adam 1

    Come on Ad, you know what the corporate press will do.

    They will call anyone who does what you propose racist, and then try to cancel them.

    Totally agree with you by the way, why we have so much trade with a totalitarian state baffles me.

    When we could, and should have these trade relations with the more democratic South East Asia nations.

    • Wei 1.1

      "…why we have so much trade with a totalitarian state baffles me."

      What's so baffling about it. The answer is obvious. We sell to whoever has the capacity and willingness to buy our stuff.

      And btw no-one gets cancelled for attacking China or the Chinese in general. Perhaps you could provide an example if there is one.

      Wokes typically detest China, and Chinese and Asians in general are typically not protected minorities -for example the 'Chinese names' stunt pulled by Labour – something they would never try with any other group.

      • Blazer 1.1.1

        Some 'stunt'….anyone who attended an auction in Auckland knew it was true ,even if it wasn't politically correct to..say so.

        • Wei

          Would have been difficult to distinguish between local and international Chinese buyers, and even if Labour's research was statistically valid (something I've never looked into and don't have an opinion on), they would not pull the same stunt on any other minority. After all, most groups of people are overrepresented in some activity that could be negatively viewed by the rest of the population, but of course it is considered inappropriate to draw attention to it (in the way Labour highlighted Chinese names) because it would demonise the majority of people of that group.

          In any case I think the public can put its minds at ease now – there will unlikely be a surge of Chinese buying now, with strict controls on capital outflow out of China implemented under Xi.

          • SPC

            Why should the party of Rewi Alley and which made the FTA be portrayed as anti-Chinese by you – when all you cite is a factual comment.

      • SPC 1.1.2

        The woke … and National, who love people bidding up the value of property, were the ones complaining that the politically incorrect was spoken out loud.

      • adam 1.1.3

        Baffling, what are you so enamored with greed?

        Did you miss covid 19, and the idea that it may have come from…

        I just think the communist party of China is a blight. It has backed the Han population into a corner of massive population decline, and utterly failed to protect their Z generation. Many of who have quite rightly given up. The only defence against a state beholden to a truly vicious cult of personality.

    • SPC 1.2

      We do via RCEP.

      • adam 1.2.1

        I should have said expand our trade with the democratic nations of South East Asia, at the expense of China.

  2. Patricia Bremner 2

    Thanks for a great essay Ad.
    My twopence worth.

    The last 50 strong Trade Delegation to India is a start. More of that to spread our risk.

    We need to diversify our offerings to China and other trading partners.

    The over supply of milk and logs is a weakness. Raw products that damage our fragile volcanic soil

    We need to add value. We are very vulnerable otherwise.

    A 10% drop in Milk value is a shock to Fonterra and farming now with many farms financially under water.

    Imagine a full stop….. Calamity.

    We have good relations with most nations. That is not just based on money.

    We could end up with all the oligarchs here, with little care for the locals, as they fly or boat in to their purchased mansions complete with helipad.

    As Chippy says "This battle is about values, and taking moral decisions which are good for NZers' and all who live here.’

  3. SPC 3

    The more immediate risk is from National doing a Trump on the tax component of the FTA with China (and other FTA partners).

    Thus they run the risk of a reaction of the like Oz got a few years back.

    There is no indication that National considered the economic and diplomatic consequences before determining on the policy.

    What if China said if the policy was adopted it would place a 15% tariffs on all our exports?

    Or it would only accept the policy without response in return for

    1. a decision not to join AUKUS (pillar) 2.

    2. end diplomatic support for the international ruling on the status of the South China Sea territory.

    • SPC 3.1

      And so it begins.

      What if China said, if the policy was adopted it would place a 15% tariff on all our exports?

      The clause in our treaty that would let us tax Chinese buyers is a promise to not discriminate on the grounds of nationality, said the National Party's preferred tax expert Robin Oliver.

      "As a sovereign country, we can tax anybody how we like," Oliver said.

      New Zealand national, or foreign national, is an interpretation too bozo. The exemption for those from Oz and Singapore coz …

      Luxon was confident it would only affect foreign buyers.

      Steven Joyce wants to sell him advertising time on radio using well known music acquired legally from a You Tube cover version.

      But Robertson said if the Nats' argument rests on the non-discrimination clause that means any Kiwi who has lived overseas so long they're a non-tax resident here will have to pay the 15 percent tax too.

      Depends if national, means tax resident or citizenship.

      Oliver said National could say there is an exemption for New Zealand citizens.

      Trumpian re-writing of an existing agreement. Both sides can play that game, claim of breach and … Who is the more vulnerable?

      Robertson said National has a big problem with its policy "if the only way they can make it work is by trying to get the other side to agree to a carve-out".

      And so the issue of determining what consequence for our national sovereignty or our exporters would result from a NACT government now emerges.

  4. Blazer 4

    Yes China has become an economic titan by copying the U.S and beating them at their own game.

    So it must be time to demonise them and change…the rules.

    Foreign investment is foreign investment ,regardless of where it comes from in this global,free market' economy so beloved by Capitalism.

    • aj 4.1

      Yes China has become an economic titan by copying the U.S and beating them at their own game.

      yes Exactly.

    • joe90 4.2

      beating them at their own game.

      With a GDP/capita a sixth of the US. Nah.

    • Wei 4.3

      Great comment.

    • SPC 4.4

      Did you read it properly, it was in the end a critique of just transitioning from western to Chinese investment and ownership.

      This election we need political parties that protect the New Zealand economy not sell it out, and protect our way of life not write it down to mere mercantilism.

      Mere mercantilism, subordinates both workers and the environment to capitalist exploitation economics.

      • Blazer 4.4.1

        My reply was to J90.

        • SPC

          Mine was to your 4 post.

          Labour was only ever a fast follower of capitalism in the Rogernomics era.

          • Blazer

            'Mere mercantilism, subordinates both workers and the environment to capitalist exploitation economics'

            No kidding!That's the way life is ,and has been for decades.

            We are constantly told NZ is a trading nation.

            Is there some suggestion that being a U.S vassal state imbues us with 'moral virtue'?surprise

  5. SPC 5

    There are of course economic consequences consequent on disconnect between an American dollar global market sphere and another centred around China as its large market hub. One is the end of the era of global supply chain efficiencies driving down costs. The other is the emergence of two rival military blocs at the global level, as in the Cold War (capitalism vs communism).

    The reason Biden wants Xi Jinping at the G20 gathering is because there is a global environment to human life and economic activity – and there are common interests.

    It is also UK and EU policy to maintain economic relations with China, despite their involvement in NATO and NATO+ worldwide and AUKUS 1 (UK).

    For us, we can note that the USA is not a reliable partner in free trade (its interference in the judicial operations of the WTO and its withdrawal from TPP) and our western democratric nation partners (and India) are not fans of including agriculture in FTA's.

    We can also note the western nations tend to want their corporates to have access to the public sector service provision and investment rights (undermining nationalist and socialist economic planning). And China is not a nation that tends to support functioning global markets, but one which long term supply rights or vertical integration by buy up of those involved in resource supply (including foreign land/ports – which is form of imperial reprise).

    Much of our China dependence problem is actually sourced in our own continuance with being a primary producer for export without domestic capital applied to add value (thus the former foreign capitalist investment to the current Chinese buy up or formation of companies to supply their market).

    And our lack of environment regulation or related plan to manage down the focus on supply by volume.

    And over all is our supine dependence on others for our regional security, It has been 70 years with no peace settlement in Korea and soon 75 years since the Americans placed their fleet between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. And now we have atolls turned into islands (and then militarised despite reassurances otherwise) in the South China Sea and disputes with ASEAN nations over fishing in the area … for now.

    Then there is the super power rivalry emerging in the "nuclear free South Pacific" and questions about the future of the continental shelf and Antarctica.

    • SPC 5.1

      There are of course economic consequences consequent on from a disconnect between an American dollar global market sphere and another centred around China as its large market hub. (trainee sub-editor).

      And China is not a nation that tends to support functioning global markets, but one which has long term supply rights or vertical integration by buy up of those involved in resource supply (including foreign land/ports – which is form of imperial reprise).

      (trainee sub-editor hired every 10 minutes).

  6. Thinker 6

    “For as long as that market is there my advice would be to sell to it.”

    That's one of those no-brainer political vox-pops that is so simplistic it's hard to challenge. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with China and trading with it.

    But, at a deeper level, pull away the outer layers and what's absolutely correct on the surface hides a darker centre of political dependence based on foreign ownership and debt, as you say Advantage. It frightens me.

    What Luxon apparently called xenophobic is nothing of the sort and surely Luxon must know that. This is about giving away statehood in return for cuddly toys and other Ali-Baba-sourced products. It's not about the sale, it's about who has the power to control the sale. Just how oil became the 20th century opium – as buyers of oil we developed a dependency on it to the point where the seller can dictate the terms of the sale – think live sheep exports, if not the supply-demand price swings of oil itself.

    I don't often agree with David Seymour, but Advantage's quote certainly rings true in Seymour's comment about what some pacific nations are giving up in return for a wharf here or a highway there. However, those pacific nations aren't part of the Five Eyes network, which is where my biggest concern lies. Five Eyes ties NZ to the US in a way that’s hard to extract ourselves even if we wanted to. Our trade and, if Luxon has his way, our indebtedness will tie us to China much more than as an equal-partner trader.

    What will happen to New Zealand if the US and China fall out with each other? We've seen with Korea, Vietnam, South America, Middle East and now Ukraine how superpowers spar with each other using smaller, dependent countries like chess pieces. I just hope we don't become one of them in the future.

    Politics is about swings and roundabouts and, one day if not in this election, the left will eventually give way to a right-of-centre government. I'm starting to hope that when that happens ACT has garnered support enough to stop National from playing such dangerous games.

    • SPC 6.1

      One little problem ACT is probably the strongest supporter of Taiwan's independence from China of all parties in parliament. And has never indicated any disquiet about our Five Eyes ties with the USA – in fact the comments you mention actually indicate its solidarity with the USA and our being part of a security alliance with it.

    • Wei 6.2

      "as buyers of oil we developed a dependency on it to the point where the seller can dictate the terms of the sale"

      Well of course, and on this point Seymour is completely correct and we should lift all restrictions on oil and gas exploration. Beggars belief that so many who claim to be anti-poverty etc, are against oil and gas exploration.

  7. Wei 7

    The same sort of demonisation of foreign countries as a way to setup public opinion to meet the war ends of the US empire has happened over and over again.

    Surprised that we see this BS on a blog that purports to be left-wing.

    [Before you make even more of a fool of yourself read this site’s Policy and About sections.

    In addition, this site’s kaupapa is robust debate and it may surprise you that there’s no totalitarian tight editorial oversight or control and no censorship of those who present a well-articulated but opposing view that does not align perfectly with any ideology or the opinion of an Author.

    Your inane comment is telling and gives your game away.

    This is your warning – Incognito]

    • Blazer 7.1

      You and me too.

      They have grown up believing U.S propaganda.

      • Wei 7.1.1

        There is even less excuse for it in the age of the internet, where a huge variety of viewpoints abound, but more importantly where facts are must more easily discoverable. Perhaps there is a will to believe what one wishes to believe, and there are reasons of cultural affinity that underly that. That is understandable.

    • Incognito 7.2

      Mod note

  8. Wei 8

    "The government of the People’s Republic of China is ruled by a totalitarian ideology under a one-party communist state. It deprives citizens of human rights on a sweeping scale and systematically curtails freedoms in order to retain power. People in China cannot practise religion or belief of their choice. They cannot express opinions openly, form unions, or join groups without fear of harassment. Members of minority groups are subject to mass arbitrary detention, surveillance, political indoctrination, torture, forced abortions and sterilisation, and forced labour."

    Either complete and utter BS or ripped completely out of context. If China was such a hellhole we would see a vast exodus of refugees from the place. On the contrary more and more Chinese are returning to China, and Chinese international students in particular are keen to return to China rather than stay in the host country (as opposed to international students from other countries). Indeed, the return rate was 14% in 2002 increasing to 82% in 2019.The fact is the current Chinese government is the most popular in a generation, clamping down on corruption, and putting in great effort to socialise the economic gains of the past 30 years – something that one would think would be applauded by social democrats everywhere.

  9. Wei 9

    "We are part of the free world, China isn’t, and we must join with other countries to ensure that we triumph against the form of world that China wants to impose."

    Where is your evidence that China wants to impose its ways on the rest of the world?

    Imposing its ways on others is an Anglo-Saxon peculiarity (although often as a blanket for naked self-interest)- although on the basis of "you have to follow us but cannot be one of us"

    For example, does China lecture NZ on ram-raids, crime, homelessness, indigenous imprisonment rates? Does China expect NZ to implement the Chinese system of government?

    Yet Western countries routinely attack the Chinese government for the way it runs China, even though what happens in Xinjiang or Hong Kong etc regardless rights or wrongs is hardly something that is threat to other countries.

    It is the US that attacks countries all over the world, that are well outside what anyone could claim was their natural sphere of influence and is the biggest threat to world peace.

  10. Jake Dee 10

    Before I start this comment it's probably only fair to mention I'm writing from my apartment in a tier 2 Chinese city, I'm a proud Kiwi and I've been here for more than 10 years.

    Long story short your characterization of Chinese society, culture and government is utter nonsense. I'm willing to pick through all the particulars of why, should anyone ask but for now I'll stay with the utter nonsense remark. I can leave my apartment right now and walk to a Christian church in 10 minutes. Plenty of singing and praying going on there on Sundays and many weeknights besides. If I take a bus for 20 minutes, I could get to another 5 ~ 6 churches and a couple of mosques. If I travel the entire city (~8 million people) I could visit 30~40 churches 8~10 mosques, many of them several centuries old and being used constantly. Then there are literally hundreds of temples, monasteries and shrines, most millennia old, and all well maintained and frequently used.

    Here's something worth considering, Red China was a darling of The Left right up until it started doing well for itself. Advocating for self-determination and de-colonization of indigenous people of color is a very comfortable hobby for liberals if those indigenous people are living in a grass hut with a bone through their nose or living in a trailer park on welfare. But it becomes a lot more difficult when those indigenous people of color have atomic weapons, space craft, stealth fighters and a big pile of cash.

    ADVANTAGE is annoyed that China isn't being run the way that he (she or they) thinks it should be run. Slightly interesting but utterly irrelevant, ADVANTAGE doesn't get to run China, Washington doesn't get to run China, London doesn't get to run China anymore and Wellington certainly doesn't get to run China, not now, not ever. The Chinese get to run China and they are currently running it from Beijing. Beijing is running China according to Chinese ways and means that go back thousands of years (traditional tribal customs yay!). They pay the money, so they take the ride, for better or worse. People who are willing to stake exactly nothing on a political decision will have their opinion granted exactly the same weight. Your very poorly informed disapproval of China will only have some weight once you are willing to stake something on it.

    As for New Zealand, the comment about "If there is a market, we should sell to it" is perfectly correct. The market isn't just the Chinese market, it's international and NZ needs China in it. A market gets better for both buyers and sellers the more players that are in it.

    • Wei 10.1

      Awesome comment.

    • Belladonna 10.2

      So you feel that you can unequivocally condemn the Chinese government treatment of the Uighur people – both online and in person.

      • Wei 10.2.1

        What about the 'treatment' of the Uighurs? That they have massively increased in population under socialism, enjoy a standard of living far higher than what was the case in the past, have significant affirmative action benefits, have their culture, religion, and language intact to a far far greater degree than indigenous peoples under Anglo Saxon colonizers, and now can now live free of the fear of terrorism from Isis inspired fanatics?

      • Jake Dee 10.2.2

        I feel I can examine the evidence and make my conclusions known both online and in person so Yes, but I don't see why those conclusions should be unequivocal condemnation.

        Unlike most people I have chatted with about the Xinjiang Uighur situation, I've gone through the primary documents that the MSM cite. If you haven't done so already, I suggest you do too. The main reports are written by Adrian Zenz and published by the Jamestown Foundation. Both very interesting entities in their own rights. Just make sure that you have a solid idea about what you consider a reasonable standard of evidence before you do.

        Although this comment section probably isn't the best place, we can go through them piece by piece together. maybe you could recommend a more suitable forum?

        Long story short I think it's a totally spurious psyop.

    • Ad 10.3

      Persecution of multiple religions in China, reports for you:

      Xinjiang human rights violations:

      Certainly agree that state-directed development has more models than those followed postwar by Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam. And that there are relevant differing and specific histories that affect those development trajectories.

      It's an open contest about who gets to run whom however. Trade isn't democratic, or even ideologically meritocratic.

      On current balance however it looks like China's last 20 years was based on a real estate boom and the music is stopping.

      From the perspective of where I'm writing rather than yours, we are too dependent on China and need to do everything we can to lessen that dependence.

      • Wei 10.3.1

        May be more helpful to go to the actual facts and then construct your own narrative, irather than quoting sources that mutually quote one another.

        A starting point is the increase in life expectancy and population of the Uighur population since 1949, including extensive affirmative action policies, and exclusion from the one-child policy (until recently I believe).

        Another is almost all Islamic countries either condone or are silent on China’s policies on Xinjiang. That would be unlikely if there was serious religious persecution happening.

        As the famous Chinese saying goes, 实事求是, "seek truth from facts"

        • Ad

          If you are so lazy you can't even interrogate the multiple sources provided, or even provide just one of your own, you need to step off this discussion.

        • Incognito

          That would be unlikely if there was serious religious persecution happening.

          Your logic is flawed, as there could be multiple reasons that are not mutually exclusive. This is ironic, to say the least, because you imply that you value ‘facts’ and ‘truth’.

          In addition, Islam as far as I know, doesn’t have a global religious/spiritual leader like the Pope or Dalai Lama who could and should speak up across international borders.

          You’re starting to come across as a China apologist and propagandist. Here on TS we’re interested in genuine debate, not in disingenuous astroturfing or trolling.

          • Wei

            I think it is a valid point to make that hardly any others in the Islamic world give a stuff about Xinjiang, and some have even applauded the policies of the Chinese government. Contrast that with the Palestinian cause, from Malaysia to Tunisia to Iran, that is a trigger point of Islamic rage….they don't need a single spiritual leader or pope to generate intense feelings against Israel. Yet those feelings against China are largely absent, witness China brokering a deal between the Saudis and Iran, do you think Israel could have done that? Of course not, because Israel is anathema in the Islamic world, but China is not.

            • Incognito

              Yes, it’s a valid point, as in a valid observation. However, you conflate observation, [biased] interpretation, and ‘truth’.

              Again, your logic is flawed and the juxtaposition of China and Israel is spurious and textbook whataboutery. In fact, you don’t seem to realise how close you are to undermining your own arguments, which further strengthens my previous assessement of you as an apologist and propagandist, as you clearly and blatantly attempt to deflect and divert from the original criticism of China.

              • Wei


                [I will restore your comment if/when you successfully get out of Pre-Moderation. Only then might I respond to this – Incognito]

                [restored comment below]

                A valid observation is all we have typically, when it comes to political or social issues, or even personal relationships. We don’t have closed form solutions like in engineering or mathematics. From my valid observation it’s logical to infer that by and large the Islamic world has little concern for whatever is going on in Xinjiang, and from that it is reasonable to infer that they consider there is little of any religious persecution going on there. Of course that does not come down to a proof, but I’d be willing to wager that Muslims are more likely to be interested in what happens to fellow Muslims than non Muslims are. Almost all the noise about Xinjiang comes from Western countries aside from an occasional comment from Turkey.

                • Incognito

                  FFS! You are the one who mentioned facts & truth but all you do is presenting biased and subjective comments, inferences, and wagers.

                  There might be other reasons why Islamic countries might not openly criticise China, which is notoriously touchy & grumpy about any form of criticism and which responds with idiosyncratic ‘diplomatic’ responses.

                  Your flawed logic is to assume that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

                  What you fob off as ‘noise’ may have more substance than you’re prepared to admit, obviously, and it warrants international scrutiny. For example, by Amnesty International, which I note is not a Western country.


          • Wei

            And you come across as a transparent apologist for US empire

            [You are proving to be exactly who I thought you are.

            Provide an example with link to support your baseless and fact-free accusation.

            Old proverb:

            He who seeks truth does not accuse
            He who imposes truth does falsely accuse

            You are in Pre-Moderation until you’ve complied or withdrawn your accusation and sincerely apologised – Incognito]

            • Incognito

              Mod note

            • Wei

              I said you come across as an apologist for US empire. Of course I have no proof, you just sound like one. Indeed no proof is required because the threshold for apologist is subjective. Of course if I said you were a CIA asset that would be a truth claim requiring evidence. But I did not say that. In the same way you assume I am an apologist for China, simply because you think I come across as one, and that is fair enough.

              • Incognito

                I asked you to support your false accusation, not to provide mathematical proof or something that absolute (and binary).

                Your if-then hypothetical is again a diversion and whataboutery.

                Even opinion statements, as subjective as they might be, have to have a foundation in reality. You have given plenty of material to support my growing suspicion, but your tit-for-tat is utterly hollow and empty.

                I’ll keep you in Pre-Mod a little longer to see if your comments pass the standard of genuine constructive debate. This is entirely subjective, of course, and I intend to spend as little time & effort as possible in reviewing your pending comments, so take heed.

                • Wei

                  No. Not whataboutery at all.

                  I have not tried to justify what China is accused of by saying that Israel is guilty of similar.

                  I have simply said the Islamic world hates Israel (that is not too strong a term) in a way they do not hate China (in spite of China being accused of numerous crimes against its Muslim citizens – at least the Uighurs if not the Hui, there is a difference).

                  That is an indication that China may not be guilty of what the West claims it is guilty of. Not a proof, but an indication.

                  • Incognito

                    More of the same and you’re wasting our time with your biased reckons about who hates whom the most, et cetera.

                    Comparing Israel and China is comparing apples and oranges.

                    The way you frame it, as ‘guilty’, is binary, which is disingenuous, at best. As such, it deflects and diverts away from seeking and finding truth.

                    Indication is a pathetic excuse and attempt to whitewash and even when the worst stains have been removed there still remains a grey smudged area that needs sunlight and oxygen. You, on the other hand, are a denier who rather hides the dirty laundry in a dark drawer than to inspect, expose, and clean it.

                    Unless you have anything of substance to add to this conversation, I’d suggest you stop it here & now and move on.

      • Jake Dee 10.3.2

        Thanks for all that, but you have to be clear with yourself about what you are actually trying to do here. Are you pointing to all these news articles about reports about facts on the ground because you want me to be aware of them (again thank you but I think I'm already aware of most of them) or are you saying that you believe them all to be true? A comment about an article about a report about a fact isn't a comment about a fact, it's a statement about a statement about a statement, not a statement about reality. It's a serious mistake to think it is. It's like the old English Common Law rule about the admissibility of hearsay evidence in court. Hearsay evidence can be introduced but only as evidence that the statement was made, not as evidence of the truth of the statement. You have to drill down as far as possible to get as close as you can to the primary evidence. This isn't weird sophistry designed to defend the Chicoms, these are rock solid principles that have been in use for centuries. As Wei says in this thread,

        实事求是 Seek the truth from the facts

        That was a favorite line of Mao Zedong but he didn't come up with it he got it from a Confucianist scholar way back in the Han dynasty. Another example of how much the Reds are following old traditions. Mao Zedong wasn't the first peasant revolutionary to seize control of the state and start a new dynasty either, there have been plenty of those.

        Your point about NZ not becoming too dependent on China is a very good one and I agree. Diversify your portfolio and you are more protected against shocks in the market. But his principle should be applied generally not just to economic trade with China. There are more markets than just the economic ones.

        How much of NZs defense comes from Washington? How much of NZs culture is created by Ivy league universities on the east coast of the USA or by Hollywood on the west? NZ needs to be in all markets, cultural, economic and military and to trade in Beijing, Shanghai (and of course also Tokyo, Mumbai, Seoul etc.) to balance out Washington, New York and London. Stick with a monopoly supplier and you're always going to get a rotten deal.

        Why did Nixon go to China? because he (or at least Kissenger) knew that if he could deal with both Beijing and Moscow separately, he would get a better deal from both of them. NZ needs China in the game and not just for milk fats either.

    • SPC 10.4

      Beijing is running China according to Chinese ways and means that go back thousands of years (traditional tribal customs yay!)

      Han Chinese running China according to traditional tribal customs ….? Don't over-sell it …

      • Jake Dee 10.4.1

        Why are the Han not a tribe? Are they not living in their ancient homeland? Are they not, therefore an indigenous tribe? The tendency of certain Western tribes, especially Western Liberal tribes and factions to grant status to some indigenous tribal customs but not to others is a legitimate point worth considering. There is also a very weird concept (probably the result of not actually thinking about it) That this form of Chinese government just suddenly came about in 1949.

        It didn't.

        • SPC

          Han Chinese are the dominant group in China, there are local ethnic minorities that are tribal in comparison. It is the place where their civilisation developed as the ruling cultural order. It was as tribal as the Roman empire was, and as long ago.

          • Jake Dee

            Still a tribe. Don't let the subjective connotations of "tribe" as small and primitive overwhelm the objective denotations of a social group linked by language culture and ancestry. Although we could move to "indigenous ethnos" and we're still in the same place.

            Your implicit connotations of "tribal" do point to an interesting feature of modern advocacy for indigenous rights. It's very easy to advance the course of ethnic self-determination if there is the assumption you will always remain the superior patron and the indigenous ethnics will always be your inferior clients.

            • SPC

              Still a tribe.

              No, a misuse of the term tribe. You're confusing indigenous people with tribe (albeit some indigenous peoples were/are of a tribe based nature).

              You'll note that from the North Americas to here, the indigenous themselves were tribe based, never formed a national organisation of government – a civilisation building block.

              Like the Italians and Greeks, Han Chinese built an indigenous people civilisation (and older than these 2). As in Bharat, a civilisation with tribal groups in some regions.

              • Jake Dee

                Well you can run with "indigenous people/ethnicity" rather than "indigenous tribe" if you like. I will use tribe because it emphasizes the common humanity between us. I see the difference between the large tribes living in glass skyscrapers in cities and the small tribes living in wooden huts in the forest to be a matter of degree rather than of type.

                It hardly changes the crux of my argument which is something like this, Those who advocate for indigenous self-determination for ethnicities other than their own are not being altruistic they are being self-serving and we can see this in their attitude towards the Chinese ethnicity in their indigenous homeland of China. Granting autonomy to a small indigenous minority tribe may indeed improve their lives, which is good, but they will always be doing so under the patronage of a larger tribe, ethnos or party. They will be allowed to grow so far but no more, their status will always be of servant/master or vassal state.

                Beijing refuses to be the vassal state of Washington, London, Brussels or Moscow. Previous notions about self-determination and ethnic autonomy have to be abandoned. Previous arguments about economic development and standard of living also have to be abandoned. Now the argument has to be political repression this, human rights that and democracy something else. None of these arguments need damage the relationships with The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Sultan of Brunei or even The Kingdom of Tonga because they really are vassal states and client tribes.

                • SPC

                  Well you can run with "indigenous people/ethnicity" rather than "indigenous tribe"

                  I will, most people do.

                  The distinction with tribe is in national organisation of ethnic peoples, rather than the local autonomy of tribes.

  11. Wei 11

    Of course, it is important to note that even if China was guilty of everything Advantage claims, it is ambitious to claim because of the way China runs China they are a threat to New Zealand's freedoms, or indeed anyone elses. That is as absurd as saying because NZ laws are lax and criminals are running rampant in NZ, that means China through its trading relationship with New Zealand will soon likewise become lawless

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