web analytics

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-

    [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.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Conservation Minister plants two millionth tree in Raglan restoration
    A long-term conservation project led by the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group in the western Waikato reaches a significant milestone this week, with the planting of the two millionth tree by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Planting the two millionth tree crowns 25 years of commitment and partnership involving Whaingaroa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago