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What China crisis?

Written By: - Date published: 12:58 pm, February 18th, 2019 - 52 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, Europe, Globalisation, International, Media, national, Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges, uk politics, us politics - Tags:

There have been lots of recent comment about how the Government is mucking up the relationship with China.

The evidence is somewhat scant.

There was the Air New Zealand plane that was turned around.  This has been mentioned by Audrey Young and others and Simon Bridges tweeted about it without even the most cursory of examinations:

Audrey Young said this:

Were it not for the news that the Chinese Government had cancelled a gala event it was hosting in Wellington to mark the China-NZ Year of Tourism, the souring relations may have quietly fermented away as they have for months.

But on top of the Air New Zealand plane turning back mid-flight to Shanghai, it took on greater significance and prominence.

The airline’s explanation of what happened was so sketchy that it took days for it to emerge that China had not turned the plane back and in fact had no part in the move.

Young’s other example, cancelling a gala event, is hardly the stuff on which hard conclusions can be drawn. And she is conceding that the Air New Zealand problem is definitely not related to any possible issues.

The other evidence, supposed increased difficulties in getting goods into China and a not so happy review of New Zealand as a tourist destination also fall well short of being conclusive proof .  Especially in relation to trade where it appears that import hiccups are at an all time low.  From Radio New Zealand:

MPI director market access Tim Knox said it has not not received indication of anything out of the ordinary in China’s border clearance procedures for New Zealand products.

New Zealand has an extensive trading relationship with China, valued at more than $NZ28 billion a year.

“As with any large trading relationship, temporary technical trade issues can occur from time to time with products at the border,” he said.

Each month China Customs publishes a list of food import non-compliances that have led to product rejection at the Chinese border. No New Zealand product appeared on the latest December 2018 list. Non-compliances concerning New Zealand products in 2018 were the lowest since monitoring began, Mr Knox said.

And the not very friendly tourist review in the China media?  Again from Radio New Zealand:

China foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told international media that it was wrong to interpret the travel notices as ‘warnings’ against Chinese tourists against travelling to New Zealand.

“Those insisting such an interpretation are evidently either making a big fuss over nothing or harbouring ulterior motives.”

And apparently a drop in student numbers is further evidence of problems. But you would expect changes to take a lot longer to feed through than what is claimed.

Of course care needs to be taken with the relationship and we are in a delicate position and in danger of being caught up in the US China tensions. 

Certainly the GCSB banning of Huawei equipment will have attracted attention.  It is hard to understand how New Zealand could not go along with that decision, given the clear views of the other five eyes nations.  I do agree with Mike Smith when he says this:

Spark wants Huawei’s 5G technology because its the best and the cheapest. The GCSB spooks don’t want us to have it because 5Eyes, and because the US has yanked their chain. The Prime Minister says no decision has been made – the media and the world think it is a goneburger. We should support New Zealand’s Spark, not US corporate interests.

The FiveEyes spy agencies met in Canada in July 2018 and “agreed to do their best to contain the global growth of Chinese telecom Huawei.” And according to the Wall Street Journal in November 2018

The U.S. government has initiated an extraordinary outreach campaign to foreign allies, trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in these countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

Bloomberg News  opines that “The Spy Masters’ Case Against Huawei Is Flimsy: The Chinese phone maker’s biggest offense may be it’s too successful. So as consumers we should be asking why we are to be denied the best available technology. I like my Huawei phone.

And some of the other members relationship with China is considerably more rocky than New Zealand’s.  Like the UK who has had a Ministerial visit by Chancellor Phillip Hammond cancelled after another Minister advocated sending in an Aircraft carrier into disputed waters to show China who is boss.  Simon Jenkins in the Guardian has this colourful description:

The defence secretary’s brain has gone absent without leave. Gavin Williamson said in a speech today that he intends to send his new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, round the world to frighten China. He will equip it with a squadron of F-35 fighter jets, purchased from America. In addition he wants to build two British military bases, one in Asia and the other “in the Caribbean”. They are to “strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass”.

The UK is denying the cancellation is related to the speech.  But the speech was pretty incendiary.

How about America?

Well POTUS has engaged in an all out trade war with China for several months now. And his comments about China are not the sort of comments on which durable relationships of trust are based on.

And how about in Australia where a Chinese billionaire with Communist Party links and a former major donor of the Liberal Party had his immigration status revoked and replied by calling Australia a giant baby?

Or how about allegations made that China had hacked Australian Parliamentary servers? Or how about accusing China of meddling in Australian domestic affairs and of poisoning relations?

Compared to the UK, the US and Australia New Zealand’s alleged misdeeds are pretty minor.

National’s stance on the issue is fascinating.  They have taken to attacking the Government and to raise objections at every opportunity.  It makes you wonder what National’s rank and file think of this fulsome defence of communist China.

Michael Reddell, a conservative commentator on economics, and self proclaimed former supporter has not held back:

Over the past couple of years the depths the [National] party, its leaders and MPs, have been plumbing have become more visible. In 2017, in government, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the PRC on the Belt and Road Initiative. In that document they – Simon Bridges as signatory – committed to “promote” the “fusion of civilisations”. Plenty of people will probably dismiss such statements as “meaningless”, the stuff of official communiques. But decent people – under no duress whatever – don’t sign up to things suggesting that today’s equivalent of Nazi-ruled Germany is a normal and decent regime. Of course, they would probably dispute the parallel, but that’s just willed deliberate blindness.

Later that same year we learned the National Party had had a former PLA intelligence officer, Communist Party member, sitting in its parliamentary caucus. It seems to be generally accepted that Jian Yang, of such a questionable background, is one of the party’s largest fundraisers. Presumably the leaders (John Key and Peter Goodfellow) were aware of his past, but let’s be generous and assume that most of the caucus was as unaware as the public. But for the past 18 months, everyone has known. They also know – because Jian Yang acknowledged as much – that he deliberately misrepresented his past to get into New Zealand, telling us that Beijing had told him (and others in his position) to do so. Breathtakingly, there is no sign that official agencies in New Zealand have done anything about those admissions, but National is now out of office so I guess one can’t blame them for that.

But what the National Party – leader, president, MPs, and all those holding office in the party – is responsible for is the fact that Jian Yang still sits in Parliament, still sits in the National caucus, is still National’s spokesman (on a couple of minor portfolios), with the express support of successive leaders, and (apparently) in ongoing business relationships with the party president (he who trots of to Beijing to praise the regime and its leader). And not one MP, not one national councillor, no other officeholder – not one – has broken ranks, and been willing to openly question (or deplore) just what has gone on. Doing so might, I suppose, jeopardise their individual futures. But values are the things you are willing to risk, to pay some price for. Rumour hath it that some people within the party aren’t entirely comfortable, but so what, if you aren’t willing to do, or say, anything?

Is Simon Bridges and National really saying that we should go against the other 5 eyes nations and let Huawei set up our 5G network?

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with Mike Smith that if at all possible we should continue to use Huawei equipment. And I personally would be very relaxed at New Zealand leaving the 5 eyes coalition.

The whole incident feels like a National beat up for political reasons.

52 comments on “What China crisis? ”

  1. Ad 1

    UK GCHQ has confirmed it can mitigate Huawei 5G risk.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Thanks I just read this in the Herald:

      Citing inside sources, the Financial Times reports the British government has now concluded that it can mitigate the risk from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks – a development the paper calls “a serious blow to US efforts to persuade allies to ban the Chinese supplier from high-speed telecommunications systems”.

      While there has so far been no official announcement, the FT says the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has determined that there are ways to limit the risks from using Huawei in future 5G networks.

      The UK paper also quotes Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ (the Brit equivalent to our GCSB), saying the NCSC had “never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei” and that any “assertions that any Chinese technology in any part of a 5G network represents an unacceptable risk are nonsense”.

      Spokesman Andrew Pirie says Spark is seeking more information on the apparent UK development.

      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12204757

    • Shadrach 1.2

      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12204757

      ooops, sorry Micky – I posted the link just as you did.

    • Lettuce 1.3

      No need to worry about Huawei. One of New Zealand’s finest inquiring minds has it on good authority that it’s totally kosher and 100% above board:

      https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2018/11/nonsense_about_huawei.html

  2. Anne 2

    My understanding is that a lot of the crap about a so-called major rift between NZ and China is emanating from the local Chinese news network who are from all accounts backers of the National Party.

    • Muttonbird 2.1

      I wonder if they are getting a telling off by the CPC as we speak.

    • NZJester 2.2

      I would say it is likely National Party Dirty Politics people behind the scenes screwing up NZ relations with China through those planted stories. Some of those stories might actually be making their way into China and causing some real harm.

      • Muttonbird 2.2.1

        It certainly looks like the National Party has been agitating in the Chinese community. It’s pretty much sabotage of the country for political gain. Disgraceful.

      • Anything to get back into power, Crosby Textor and Nicky Hager’s Dirty Tricks bring back any memories ?

    • woodart 2.3

      I wonder what the old white backbone of the natz really think about there party selling out to the chinese. I expect winston to really put the screws on over it..

    • ken 2.4

      …..and exceedingly well versed in propaganda.

  3. Hooch 3

    I’m not sure it’s a vote winner for national to say they’d be sucking up to China if they were in power. I’d go as far to say the reason they’re polling is dropping is because of revelations like donations for list places.

    Pretty stupid game to start a meme that relations with one of our biggest trading partners are faltering.

    As for the air nz thing. Shouldn’t they be asking sir John and his poodle luxton about that?

    Pretty sure exports were stopped at the border due to paperwork issues when MPI had a name change under national too.

    And what would national have done in regard to Huawei? During keys tenure if America said jump he asked how high.

  4. veutoviper 5

    Good coalition of a lot of different articles, etc on this issue, thanks mickysavage.

    If you did not hear Bridges being interviewed this morning on Morning Report it was worth listening to IMHO as Espiner actually took it to Bridges for once in suggesting strongly to Bridges that he was damaging the NZ-China relationship and should be putting NZ first and not playing politics with such an important relationship.

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018682934/simon-bridges-tight-lipped-on-collins-leadership-discussion

    (Interview also covered whether Bridges had asked Collins whether she would support him as leader right up to the next general election – lol. Bridges refused to answer Espiner’s question to this over and over again.)

    As I mentioned elsewhere here yesterday, I also half heard an interview on Checkpoint last week when someone being interviewed on possible delays to NZ exports into China opined that any delays to NZ exports at the China border at present were more than likely due to nothing more than that it is Chinese New Year, with many people on holiday and customs etc working with skeleton staff! A case of Ozram’s Razor?

    • Kat 5.1

      “Choyna” a crisis manufactured by National. Before that it was “Russha”, before that it was “Oztrailya”……soon it will be “Inglind”.

      National know they are irrelevant. Historically they are a very large opposition. They are still irrelevant. Must be so frustrating for them. They are destined to a minimum of three terms in opposition. The only strategy they have is to attack the govt, not hold it to account, but to attack with the hope a weak chink will be found and a scandal erupts that tears the coalition apart, sets voters against Winston and Jacinda and miraculously return them to power.

      Simon Bridges will keep on barking and barking and barking, he may stop momentarily for a scratch then keep on barking, barking and chasing parked cars until his masters replace him with a new dog. Will it be an old dog or a pup.

  5. rata 7

    Hu -a -wei? Hu a yu?
    I have a Huawei washing machine so
    I am expecting a visit by the SIS any moment now 🙂

  6. Muttonbird 8

    It’s incredible the National Party would abandon one of their very core tenets, that of subservience to the United States, in order to attack this government.

    It’s almost as if they’re having difficulty remembering where their principles are because it’s been so long since they stood by them.

    • Exkiwiforces 8.1

      Did the “No Mates Party” have any principles or ethics to start with? 😂

      • NZJester 8.1.1

        According to them, they do have principles or ethics. But their definition of the words principles and ethics somehow do not match up with all the dictionary definitions of those words.
        Just like with the facts and figures they choose to use, they are also selective with what dictionary definitions they use in conjunction with those two words to claim they have them.

        • Exkiwiforces 8.1.1.1

          Mind you it depends on what dictionary they using as well and it’s not a Oxford or Macquarie either.

    • peterlepaysan 8.2

      Principles?
      Since when has national had principles? It is the lap dog of the wealthy and privileged.
      Always has been, just look at the history of its formation, (gasp) a coalition, against Labour.

      Gordon Gecko rules the national party, always will.

  7. Anne 9

    I love the head-line… Headache for Ardern, Little…

    Why? With this new information they can look at it again.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12204757

    • Muttonbird 9.1

      I would have thought that was the intention all along. To preliminarily block Huawei as per the request of security partners while the risks, real or not, are mitigated or safeguards put in place.

      The desperate and increasingly whacky right will try to paint this as a backdown (watch for this, it has already started) but the public will see it as sensible and properly cautious.

  8. Jetal 10

    The whole thing is a campaign by Huawei and their own useful idiots in the mainstream media to destable the Coalition into letting them back into the tent. Huawei ran an ad last week and the Herald then ran their lines.
    I would link to a surprising post by (she who cannot be named or linked else I fear a ban) which makes perfect sense but doing so could lead to a lifetime ban on this site.

  9. AB 11

    It goes without saying that National are vandals and opportunists primarily motivated by enriching the social class to which they belong. Everything they do should be considered in this light.

    But there is something else. Isn’t it inevitable that 5-Eyes membership and the China FTA will run up against each other from time to time? And if so – what is the long-term course? Is it just a case of occasional flareups after which things return to normal? Or is the trend towards an accumulation of difficulties such that eventually we will be forced to make a choice between them? Or to reject both?

    • Anne 11.1

      I know… lets ask China to join. We could be the Six Eyes. 😈

      • SPC 11.1.1

        The best commericalisation of 5G has been the promotion of 5G+ for men – a cocktail promising faster connectivity based on its historic use in Vietnamese brothels (Greentea, Ginseng, Ginger, Garlic and Ginkgo)

    • SPC 11.2

      The way I see it, 5G connection to smart devices increases the threat from malicious (criminals/hackers) actors and then there is the human health impact – quite apart from any capacity to a non western power to have surveillance (or denial of service) – grounds enough to delay and let others be canaries in the mine.

      Compare those using Huawei and those not, at leisure, before deciding. Rushing in to buy each new thing is not always progressive.

  10. SPC 12

    Three issues

    1. A desperate Simon Bridges, and maybe National as well, prepared to abandon bi-partisan foreign policy for political opportunism (and in large part it is an attempt to sabotage the Ardern-Peters releastionship).

    2. How quickly the Herald jumps in service to their calling, when it relates to business interests (year 2000 winter of discontent opposition to ECA reform).

    3. How many ex National MP’S are hooked into the NZ-China relationship post parliament – that’s a real demonstration of soft power buying connections. Even the Americans have been wary of ex government employees then hooking up with companies they were doing business with/regulating.

  11. BobandTurtle 13

    Seems quite ironic that the Labour party (and cheerleading squads) are so anti communist China considering your shared ideaology. You can always count on a bit of Trotsky and Stalin type infighting with the left, especially when it suits your needs i.e. equating China with the National party = the enemy. Labour are in damage control mode and need to ensure that they do not spill any more milk on behalf of our primary export industry. It tends to smell long term…….

    • Anne 13.1

      BobandTurtle has taken an overdose of smelling salts after watching TV1 news tonight.

    • KJT 13.2

      China’s “ideology”, totalitarian State control and surveillance, combined with contempt for Democracy, and the worship of money, is more compatible with National.

  12. Mark 14

    Of course there is a problem. Just because many things are not not explicitly stated does not mean there is no problem.

    Just as if one went to a party, some parties you feel welcome and have a ball and other parties somewhat ignored. In both cases though, superficially at least everything is OK.

    About that plane being turned around —and this is conjecture on my part—obviously technically China had the right to turn the plane back because of the paperwork. But if relationships were better, they’d probably let that one go, and allow it to land.

    In many areas of life we apply dispensation – based on a smile, a node, or a wave of the hand, let someone in in busy traffic.. We do that to people we like. If we dislike someone we can do everything properly, but nevertheless very easily make someone feel unwelcome – and they will know it.

    That fact that we now feel it, probably means there is something afoot.

    And it is hardly surprising. After all, New Zealand has been quite deliberatly and obviously spitting in China’s eye the past year or so, ever since that defense white paper was released. To the Chinese (and the Taiwanese mind you), the South China Sea is China’s sacred territory. That is something that unites all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

    Then Peters delivers a speech to the Americans asking them to engage more with the Pacific, specifically mentioning their long involvement that started with the unequal treaties forced on China by the West. That is red rag to a bull. The Chinese are marinated in the history of the one hundred years of humiliation at the hands of the West. Indeed the raison d’être of the Chinese Communist Party is to overturn that century of humiliation and restore China back to its rightful place in the world. This is from its very founding back in 1921. Anyone that refers to the history of Western imperialism in a positive light will be persona non grata to the Chinese – to be cast into outer darkness never to forgiven.

    • mickysavage 14.1

      Air New Zealand have put their hands up about the plane trouble and said it is all their fault.

      I was in China a couple of years ago. The authorities decided to close down airspace for a couple of days and all flights were cancelled. No reason was given.

      I am not saying that there is nothing to worry about, just that given what other 5 eyes nations are doing right now to suggest that China is targeting New Zealand and not the others is bizarre.

    • SPC 14.2

      How did we feel it?

      In no way whatsoever, until National decided their first campaign of the year would be to try and politicise as an issue – who was boss of foreign policy, Ardern or Peters.

      That results in a media commentator cycle where they all add their two cents worth, and then various cronies of theirs and those with commercial interests are asked for comment.

      Now its all reading the tea leaves/signs of inscrutable Chinese messaging …all to fix in our susceptible minds the idea of who we are not allowed to offend – not if it costs the important people in our business world.

  13. It is all Chinese Whispers at this stage, the MSM along with National and Crosby Textor are trying their best to manufacture an issue IMHO ?

  14. Ankerrawshark 16

    100% tamati tautahi

  15. Now this little matter about chinas human rights record… so tell me again , if we stand on principle and not avarice ,… just why do we need them? Andddddd…. apart from a few corporate farmers, a tourist industry that COULD attract other markets,… and the [ virtually ] privatized education industry and those wanting a few extra bucks per week boarding a few chinese students …

    Juxtapose that with the fact that many here are actually card carrying members of the chinese communist party… not so attractive when one considers many of these cancelled tourist flights are motivated out of fear of their own govts reprisals, or communists on campus keeping chinese students in line with threats of the ‘big stick’… IS IT.

    When I was doing security study’s in Auckland, outside our 3 story window were members of the Falun Gong protesting against the visit of the chinese prime minister [ corner of Symonds and Karangahape Roads…

    When up marched our own police in support of a FASCIST, TOTALITARIAN STATE.

    They approached these peaceful protesters in a phalanx.

    They then deliberately stood behind each F.G protester in a less than veiled threat of ”do anything, and we will bust ya” fashion.

    So here was our OWN police force- aiding and abetting the totalitarian state of china because of….. TRADE DEALS AND LOOKING AFTER THE RICH ???

    Looking at you , J, Collins…D . Brash , J. Shipley , R . Richardson et all..

    I remarked to my security tutor ‘ they certainly look afraid”…

    To which he replied ” yes, many will have family back in china”… he also mentioned that all the faces of the protesters were being caught on surveillance cameras for later identification…

    How shitty can you get…

    All of course happening under the auspices of the Shit John Key ChiNational weasel govt. Natch, of course…

    I’ll leave you with that thought and the plight of those protesters,.. and their family’s,- and whether we should be taking any shit from that country after all. Who needs em? Really? .

    Fuck em.

    Russia would be a far better choice anyways if we were to shift trade to them. At least they are too far away to try any kind of soft power bullshit like embedding a former chinese spy instructor in one of our main political party’s- OR trying to buy their way in… eh, Jamie.

    And thanks for that info, James,… you’ve done your country a great service, matey.

    • OH ,… and in case any of you chinaphiles say it isnt true and that doesnt happen to people in china… WATCH THIS:

      Tortured in Red China – The Persecution of Falun Gong – YouTube

    • And THIS :

      The Persecution of Falun Gong (OFFICIAL ENGLISH … – YouTube

      • Mark 18.2.1

        hahahahaha, yep, that Western meddling movie of Falun Gong is proof alright? hahahah….what a naive plodder you are.

        China is New Zealand’s top trading partner accounting for 25% of NZ trade.

        New Zealand is China’s 44th ranked trading partner accounting for 0.29% of China’s trade.

        So here’s an idea Wild Katipo. If you want the Chinese to piss off and take their trade elsewhere, why don’t you gather around you a couple of hundred, or perhaps even a hundred like minded fellows, get some placards out, paint them with some anti-Chinese slogans and walk down Queen St, or Aotea Square.

        You should do this one a week, and I’m sure you will get in Chinese media.

        Before long the Chinese will get the hint and simply take their trade elsewhere. Really, NZ, is not that important to them. So they will simply stop engaging with NZ, if enough people create a big enough racket. Then problem solved!

        You can be assured that the Chinese will not be sending gunboats or soldiers down here to force trade, or simply to plunder. That is the Western way of doing things. Not the Eastern way.

        Howabout it? Put your money where your mouth is. Or are you all just a load of hot air?

        • WILD KATIPO 18.2.1.1

          Go have a chat with a few Falun Gong family members who had one of their loved ones imprisoned, then butchered for organs , arsehole. Following that , have a serious look – and I MEAN a serious look into their human rights abuses and executions, wank.

          Have a wee chat with Amnesty International.

          You complete sell out.

          The Alan Parsons Project – I Wouldn’t Want to be Like You – YouTube

  16. Mark 19

    Sellout? How is not giving a toss about falun Gong have anything to do with nz, one way or the other? Please explain.

    In any case I’ve given you a suggestion on what to do about getting the Chinese outta here, surely you should give it a go. Or are you some lazy keyboard warrior sitting on your ass in your mamas basement?

    • Go fuck yourself ,shit for brains.

      Enjoy that liver transplant you got from china , kid? Ever wake up in the night with nightmares and cold sweats about the victim who gave you life, jerk?

      Yeah – ” How is not giving a toss about falun Gong ”

      That’s you all over shithead.

      Go back to your nightmare world, fucker.

      What you need is freedom of speech in your shit country of china and a dose of this you little toady ,- but instead of it being directed towards the Queen if England- needs to be redirected to the evil shit head fuckers in the chinese peoples republics govt , – which you obviously support you tapeworm.

      FUCK YOU.

      You evil little worm.

      Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK – YouTube

      [lprent: Over the top. Pull it in before I ensure that you do. ]

  17. China is definitely a different kettle of fish in the Pacific, I am not sure who is the most trust worthy these days, the Americans or the Chinese ?

    The Chinese have become very expansionist in recent years in the Pacific and have developed strong political and financial ties with the likes of Tonga, Fiji, Samoa & the Cook Islands.

    They need to secure food supply for their people and need new ports in the Pacific to support their fishing fleets, plans are a foot in a number of Pacific Nations for building new port facilities.

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