Turning a blind eye

Written By: - Date published: 4:25 pm, April 18th, 2009 - 16 comments
Categories: human rights, International, john key - Tags: ,

Unlike some of the other Standard writers, I don’t usually find Fran O-Sullivan too bad but her reporting of Key’s trip to China has been disappointing. Here’s how she describes Key’s failure to stand up for human rights:

“Key is also quite pragmatic on human rights. He did not seem bothered enough on China’s record to make ritualistic forays on this score.”

“Pragmatic on human rights” – there’s a cop-out if ever I’ve heard one. If the leaders of democratic countries won’t speak against human rights abuses, who will?

But who can be “bothered” with “ritualistic” defences of the right to life and basic freedoms? After all, they’re only the human rights of Chinese and Tibetans, eh Fran, not real people and there’s money to be made by turning a blind eye.

Let’s hope Key doesn’t bring that same ‘pragmatism’ to our human rights. Oh wait, he has with three strikes and DNA sampling.

No wonder the second in command of China’s dictatorship, Wen Jaibao, “was almost languid as he smiled while he waited on Key to arrive at the Great Hall of the People then grinned delightedly” when Key arrived. Like him, Key is fine with ignoring human rights abuses when there’s money to be made.

That an unelected head of a gang of mass murderers was tickled pink with Key shouldn’t have us clapping. It should turn our stomachs and break our hearts.

16 comments on “Turning a blind eye”

  1. ak 1

    …an unelected head of a gang of mass murderers…

    FFS Ed, turn off Fox News now

    Face the facts: we’re tiny and at the mercy of the giants. Hels brilliantly paved the way with respect in better times, and a gushing puppyish demeanour is entirely appropriate now that we’re cap-in-hand. (I just hope that “biggest dick in the room” flaw doesn’t surface and he blows us back to square one…..)

    • ak: The same logic would have applied to NZ’s relationship with Japan or Germany in the 1930s. They were giants and we were nothing. Cap in hand you would have us tendering to build the gas ovens…and been glad of the work.

      If not, then why not? Exactly where do you draw the line?

      Trade with China isn’t free now and won’t be any time soon. I’d rather see reciprocal tariffs and a more independent NZ that can stand up for itself than the mealy-mouthed moral vacuum you appear to advocate.

      To the extent the globalisation costs us our sovereignty and removes our ability to live our values, I’m agin it.

      • ak 1.1.1

        Exactly where do you draw the line?

        Well….somewhere below eugenics and a desire to invade and dominate the entire world….(which I hope would negate your analogy)

  2. ghostwhowalks 2

    Can we assume the Dalai Lama will only get to meet Richard Worth , as a payback for all this kow towing by the Minister of Tourism

  3. From September 2008

    “The support of both Labour and the CTU for the preceding Chinese Free Trade deal with the Butchers of Tienanmen Square has already resulted in disaster for Chinese workers. Fonterra gained a 43% stakehold in the corrupt Sanlu corporation, whose Managing directors are also provincial leaders of the murderous Communist Party. Sanlu ensured that the poisoning of Fonterra’s dairy products were covered up during the “scandal free’ Olympics, which also saw the imprisonment of leading activists and the oppression of Tibetan and Uighur independence movements. For Fonterra, Labour and the CTU, human rights and democracy were not more important than making money with a Stalinist regime so ruthless, it would cover up the poisoning of its own children.

    In contrast, socialists were on the streets championing Chinese workers rights and the right of Tibetans to independence.’

    Continued at-
    http://socialistaotearoa.blogspot.com/2008/09/socialists-condemn-labour-partys-free.html

    [lprent: I’d strongly prefer if you actually wrote a comment explaining the link and its relevance. Rather than a cut’n’paste teaser + link, which automatically gets popped into moderation because it is a classic trolling system to do cut’n’paste link-whoring. I have to clean it out which makes me irritated for excess work even if it is on topic. When I get irritated I tend to ban for link-whoring.. ]

  4. Concerned of Tawa 4

    Fortunately for Key, Dr Cullen set the very low standard in ’07 by booting out journalist Nick Wang from a conference at the request of the Chinese Government, then claiming he was “creating a disturbance” (a video showed he was not…)

    Talking about turning a blind eye…

  5. Owners of companies in NZ want access to cheap Chinese labour so they can make cheaper stuff and be more competitive globally (in so far as almost everthing is made in China now)….and everyone ELSE can go to Australia and be paid higher wages than they will get here in NZ….if they could get a job there.

    I think we’re at or near the tipping point. Unemployment in NZ will get worse and wages generally will fall until we understand that if we make nothing here, then we will employ many fewer people here. Not everyone can work in shops, cafes and restaurants….who all – essentially – pay the mininum wage…..The only thing that will work in our favour is food shortages elsewhere that drive prices up. Of course that won’t help the average person here as they will just have to pay more for the food we make here. It’s the people who own the farms who do well….not the other 95% of us.

    Of course if they could bring in cheap labour from overseas, they would….and have been pushing for that for years.

    Bottom line: Your job can go anywhere, but you can’t. The already wealthy baby boomers are using their neighbour;s kids a cheap labour if they can’t get it done in China. This class will get richer and the of us rest will get poorer or leave the country. In case you’re wondering that means a lot of young people will be taking off….and have been. I met a woman in Melbourne three days ago. She went to Australia 3 years ago. She works in a shop. She gets overtime and is paid penal wages on weekends and holidays. She has other terms and conditions her union has preserved while workers doing the same job in NZ are paid less, work longer and have worse conditions. She isn’t interested in returning to NZ. She sees it as a lost cause……for workers.

    • George Darroch 5.1

      Steve, you’ve got it in one right there. Labour didn’t give back penalty rates, and I have no idea why.

      Well, I have a few ideas, but I don’t buy into them.

      I’m in Australia now, and as long as I don’t buy property, I’m significantly better off financially. Marginal taxes on low incomes are significantly lower, wages are significantly higher. I earn a higher hourly rate as a tutor at university than both my parents combined, and they’ve been in the workforce for decades.

      Of course I’d return for non-financial reasons, but given the way things are going in NZ (economic/environmental/social-policy clusterfucks all around), they’re going to have to be pretty serious reasons.

  6. George Darroch 6

    Let?s hope Key doesn?t bring that same ?pragmatism? to our human rights. Oh wait, he has with three strikes and DNA sampling.

    No wonder the second in command of China?s dictatorship, Wen Jaibao, ?was almost languid as he smiled while he waited on Key to arrive at the Great Hall of the People then grinned delightedly? when Key arrived. Like him, Key is fine with ignoring human rights abuses when there?s money to be made.

    And how is this any different to cold silence of Clark on China. That FTA was never at risk from posturing by the Government. Doesn’t this man look happy?

    Same too an FTA with ASEAN which means free trade with Burma.

    Or the asset forfeiture act, the detention and explusion without reason refugee bill, the numerous ‘anti-terrorisn’ acts, the tasers, the search and surveillance bill, or any one of the many laws passed by Labour that have given the state the right to arrest, seize, expel, use secret evidence, detain, without a shred of judicial review.

    • dan 6.1

      the point was that Clark did rise human rights, O’Sullivan says that was “ritualistic”, Key didn’t “bother”

  7. George Darroch 7

    If they could bring in cheap labour from overseas, they would.

    They already do that, in a number of primary industries. These industries will not or cannot pay wages that attract New Zealanders (ie. above minimum wage, particularly for piece-work), so they claim “shortage!” and are allowed to bring in migrants who face poor wages and poor conditions.

  8. Exactly how is this different from the last 37 years since the Third Labour Government granted recognition to the People’s Republic of China?

    Exactly how is this different from the last 29 years while New Zealand has retained relatively friendly and open trade with the homosexual murderers in Iran?

    Exactly how is this different from the last government opening diplomatic relations with North Korea, which imprisons entire families, including children in Stalinist style gulags (tens of thousands).

    Exactly how is this different from all previous governments on Indonesia whilst it was under Suharto?

    No New Zealand government has ever shown anything beyond peripheral courage in raising human rights issues, ever. It is common to National, Labour and given their coalition and confidence/supply agreements, the Alliance, United Future and New Zealand First (and now ACT and the Maori Party).

    A small trading nation can only do so much “thou shalt” in the world, otherwise the trading partners would be the OECD countries and a handful of others. Human rights are always mentioned, the countries concerned know it is done, then everyone moves on to issues that cross boundaries.

    While China still has a long way to go, the human rights situation there is vastly better than it was 20 years ago, and light years better than 30 years ago.

    Of course nothing stops anyone from personally boycotting Chinese products if they so wish – requires a bit more effort than moaning to the government about it though.

  9. wren 9

    “A small trading nation can only do so much “thou shalt’ in the world” – yeah and key did none.

    You’re meant to be a libertarian, libertyscott. You know, no compromise on rights, no government action should impinge on rights. And hear you are supporting turning a blind eye to abuses of rights because there’s money in it. shame

  10. Wren, I’m not – I’m simply pointing out there has been no change. You are right, no government action should impinge on rights – letting people trade with whoever they choose is not government action – it is putting the responsibility on individuals to boycott or support whoever they want.

    Of course government should raise human rights concerns, yes Key should have raised it, I agree (I’m no Nat). However, my point is that New Zealand foreign policy has a long record of doing nothing – primarily because it will have next to no effect, perhaps the only exception I know of recently is Winston Peters raised human rights with North Korea – perhaps the first time EVER any Foreign Minister did that with North Korea directly.

    Good for him, Key should have done better, but I think the difference between the main parties on this is virtually nil, and I understand why. Small trading nations can’t afford to get markets closed.

  11. ak 11

    The trouble with principles is that they run out the door when you’re in the Warehouse faced with a $19.95 disc grinder. Or a fat paypacket in White Australia. And if Tiannenmen was a butcher shop, what about the gigantic abattoirs of Iraq, Vietnam etc?
    It’s a hard road finding the perfect trading partner. But some have better intentions (and prospects) than others – warts and all.

  12. Bill 12

    The purpose of leaders in today’s world is to help companies make profits via the market. That’s the long and the short of it.

    Human rights…actually, not sure about the sense in using such a term…our much improved lot didn’t just appear like magic but came on the back of much agitation and suffering. Companies and governments were on the other side of the fence then and remain so today.

    Many of the companies indulge in abuses ranging from intimidation of workers to murder; their abuses only moderated by the county within which they are operating. E.g. Coca Cola has it’s sticky finger prints all over the murder of trade unionists in Columbia but wouldn’t do the same here. Not today at any rate.

    And when the Chinese State sought to improve the rights and conditions of Chinese workers it was the western corporations who brought pressure to bear against any such move.

    Things are not as they could be in China. Or the US. Or right here in NZ.

    If you want to jump on some human rights bandwagon you’re going to be riding it for a thousand years. Today it will be China. Tomorrow somewhere else and the next day somewhere else again…..on and on.

    Option b might be to identify the underlying primary driver that sanctions and even encourages our abuse of one another and pull it up by the roots.

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  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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