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How New Zealand should deal with China

with 4 comments

This post follows on from a comment made by my co-blogger, The Veteran, in his post on China:

Tom … cheap shot in the context of ACT’s penchant for unloading cheap shots on National. Guess that’s part of your strategy for growing the vote … might just backfire one day. But there’s nothing but nothing in all your writings to suggest a pathway forward in our dealings with China …waiting.

Fair enough, although my hands-off approach to commenting on New Zealand is one reason I’ve not done this before, and I doubt that the ACT Party will be much better than National or Labour on the China issues.

Also to be fair, it’s the Green Party that has been more prominent in speaking out on various China issues over the years, but by the same token I don’t expect anything concrete from them when they join Labour in government post 2023, given how they’ve caved to Labour on various matters in recent years.

So, to some ideas for how New Zealand can deal with China.

  1. Focus on slowly reducing our exposure to them in exports and imports. Sure, this is easier said than done but I think the focus must be on increasing our export/import trade with other nations, starting with getting that Free Trade agreement with a Britain newly liberated from the EU. Deliberately trying to shrink our trade with China is not likely to work so the emphasis has to go on building trade with other nations so that our proportion with China shrinks.
  2. Increase the frequency and volume of our diplomatic work with the nations facing China. The diplomatic side is symbolism but that’s damned important: make the Chinese observe that we’re getting on well with nations that they are attacking, like Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, and especially India. By the same token start restricting our meetings with the Chinese and make them as cold and technical as hell. No more warm fuzzies in public. There’s no need for bad-tempered, Trump-style attacks, just a cold shoulder combined with warmth towards nations they’re unhappy with.
  3. Increased defence associations with those same countries. If there’s a military exercise involving them, join it in every possible way: Army, Navy, Air Force. Again, this is not being militaristic (whoever would believe that about NZ nowadays), it’s a matter of making it crystal clear to the CCP that we’re not on their side.
  4. We often boast about our ability to work behind the scenes on big, global issues so let’s do that by trying to persuade the likes of the EU, Britain, the USA and other rich countries to start helping out those nations in Africa and elsewhere that have found themselves getting in coercive hock to the Chinese. We’ve long claimed that we can be seen as an “honest broker” with the smaller, less-developed nations of the world so we work on that side of the same solution to bring them to the table (a quiet backroom table away from the cameras) with the rich folk. It’s not as if those nations are still unaware of the infrastructure stunts China has pulled on them so they should be attentive as we try to build some speed bumps into the Belt and Road initiative.
  5. Criticise those US corporations and entities – especially the likes of Hollywood and the NBA – that are crawling on their bellies to the CCP for access to all those hundreds of millions of potential customers. New Zealanders love America-bashing so there’s little downside and in case you have not noticed, young people are not particularly impressed with Hollywood nowadays anyway.
  6. Put the squeeze on the New Zealand influencing operations of outfits like the Confucius Institutes. They’re nothing more than a CCP propaganda front in the education field.
  7. Clean up our laws on electoral donations to eliminate, or at least reduce, the possibility that CCP money is being laundered into the NZ political scene via Chinese businesses and their connections to NZ businesses. I’m sure this will give China apologist Michael Barnett (Executive Director of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce) a bad dose of the squirts but that’s just a plus in my view.

    The “Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry” may have sounded like a snickering insiders joke at first (wink, wink) but it’s not funny any longer.

Speaking of funny, if we did desire to be slightly more assholish to the CCP we could always trigger them by having this map displayed in a few key spots – Motorway billboards perhaps.

And with a great sense of timing here’s a Substack article that partially covers this, Why Republicans Must Rethink Antitrust:

In the early 1990s, we were reliably informed by neoliberal economists, including the Chicago School, that if China were allowed to engage in free trade and join multilateral organizations that the country would gradually democratize and embrace America as the world’s only superpower.

“We know now that this theory missed the mark by a wide margin. Instead of democratizing, China became a surveillance state (thanks in large part to the U.S. internet). Contrary to the Chicago School theory, China never engaged in free or fair trade. Three million jobs shipped from the U.S. to China over the past twenty years — and our children get defective toys and contaminated baby formula.

I once believed those things too. I no longer do. If the National Party wishes to continue living in 1980-2000 period then they face a Mitt Romney future.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 14, 2021 at 10:04 am

The Precious Midpoint

It’s a truism of politics that you win the centre to gain and hold political power.

But there’s a difference between acting on that and worshipping it as a religious principle that requires politicians to do nothing but sniff the winds and bend accordingly to what they detect.

Politicians and political parties that do that are doomed to accomplish nothing in power beyond managing the status quo until they tire and are voted out in favour of the next new, shiny thing. And if enough time goes by and the status quo breaks down, such a party will simply be left on the side of the road.

Strangely this seems to be the fate of the old socialist parties of France and Germany, which are facing extinction as major players, and the British Labour Party seems to be intent on joining them, as noted in this article, The Road to Hartlepool Pier:

But worst of all is that this transmogrified middle-class party views its old working-class constituency not simply with incomprehension but with contempt. “Yep”, Liddle quotes a “Starmer superfan” as tweeting about the result, “as expected the working class love a bit of nationalism and racism. Well done Hartlepool, you turkeys. I’ve never been and I never will”.

“The Labour Party we knew is gone,” Liddle concludes, “gone for good. Those votes are not coming back”. Stirring stuff and written from the depths of a Social Democrat’s soul.

But the article points out that this is nothing new for British Labour or British Socialism, as implied with the title of the article, cribbing from one of Orwell’s famous books:

“The truth is,” Orwell concludes, “that to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which ‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders.”

That was written in 1937.

Here in New Zealand I have to wonder if the same thing is true of the National Party? Certainly Chris Trotter notes the problems that Centre-Left parties are having overseas but is cocksure that the same won’t happen to NZ Labour, with his “Four Houses” analogy:

Far from losing touch with its brown working-class base, New Zealand Labour’s liberal, university-educated middle class: the house members of Working With My Brain and Taking Care of Others; are doing everything they can to empower Maori and Pasefika New Zealanders. They are doing this by strengthening their unions; by increasing their benefits; by more appropriately tailoring health and educational services to their needs; and, most significantly, by reconfiguring New Zealand’s constitutional structures to ensure their voices are heard and their cultural needs recognised.

Ironically, this leaves New Zealand’s National Party where British Labour now appears to be standing: with insufficient allies to win a nationwide election. Of New Zealand’s four houses, only Taking Care of Business (especially rural business) is overwhelmingly loyal to National. Increasingly, the house members of Working With My Brain, once more-or-less evenly split between National and Labour, are clustering around like-minded “progressives”.

And here also:

The only real questions, after Thursday’s Budget, is how long will it take National to realise how profoundly the political game has been – and is being – transformed by Covid and Climate Change? Will it be two, three, or four terms? And, how many leaders will the party have to elect, and discard, before it finally masters the new language of electoral victory?

While that’s amusing and something to think about, it must be said that poor old Chris has a long, repeated habit of swinging from orgasmic joy at Labour electoral victories followed by dark mood swings as they flail around and fail to recreate the wonders of Micky Savage’s First Labour Government. That second article might as well have been titled the same as the famous cover of Newsweek in 2008, heralding the arrival of Saint Obama and following the spending spree of the Bush Administration as they effectively nationalised a stack of financial firms.

Things turned out differently of course.

However, the reason for my post’s title was the thought that National may actually be thinking the same as Chris, and it’s been foremost with ex-Cabinet Minister Wayne Mapp, commenting on a number of blogs, including Trotter’s. Here on No Minister he has of course regularly lambasted me as being to the Right of 90% of New Zealanders and I have acknowledged as much.

But over on Kiwiblog this comment from Wayne in a DPF post on electric cars, made it clear that it’s not just me he’s concerned about:

Fourteen out of twenty four comments criticising DPF, either directly or indirectly, for choosing an EV. It does show how far Kiwiblog commenters are from the midpoint of NZ voters.

Given that the vast majority of those comments were not knee-jerk reactions but accurate observations about the cost, range, life-span and capabilities of EV’s, and given that many of those people are or have been National voters, I thought that was a foolish and reactionary comment itself.

But it does show the thinking that’s evolving here, at least with one ex-National MP, and it’s thinking that fits perfectly with Trotter’s about what’s wrong with National and where they have to go to regain power – which is basically to just cede all these fundamental arguments to the Left, roll over and awaken when the electorate eventually tires of Jacindamania.

Given that Labour and its policies were floating around the low twenty percent mark in mid-2017 before the Hail Mary pass to Jacinda yielded a massive increase in Labour’s vote share, even as the policies remained the same, I think that simply following them in those basic policies, if not in detail, is stupid beyond belief.

Having talked to countless Jacinda worshippers and having always asked them the key question, “Would you vote for Labour policies if Jacinda vanished today?”, I’ve not been surprised to find them answering that they’re not actually aware of Labour policies and a hesitant answer that they might still vote for them. In other words, at rock bottom, the popularity of Labour is still in the pre-Jacinda range of early 2017.

As the threat of Chinese Sinus AIDS retreats and the costs of being a NoRightTurn extremist on AGW mount up, especially for that “brown working-class base”, I don’t think even the magic pixie dust of Jacinda will be enough.

Instead of aping the strategic goals of Labour and sneering at their own voters, what National should be thinking about is what the votes for Brexit and Trump in 2016 and for the British Conservatives in 2020 meant, and what the changing politics of things like the recent Hartlepool election meant – rather than imagining that the forces driving them can be wiped away by defeating Trump-like politicians.

National is not going to be rewarded by simply saying that it will do the same as Labour but with better management. In the face of failing public systems, especially education, that’s no longer good enough. The 2020 election told National that when voters are presented with such a choice they’ll just vote Labour.

And the lesson is not to be like the New Zealand equivalent of Mitt Romney, Theresa May or David Cameron – all squishes who either failed to get elected or if they were, failed to grasp the actual electoral environment they claimed their “moderate” noses could sniff out.

That approach just won’t cut it anymore with Centre-Right parties. Real, practical solutions based around giving incentives to individuals – in education, healthcare and other areas – are what is required. Certainly not something that “‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders“, from the hearts of wealthy suburbs sporting myriad electric cars.

The midpoint is there to be moved, not just accommodated with as others move it.

Just as important is that all this needs to be backed by a willingness to fight with the likes of Tova and John Campbell when they use their usual emotional bullshit arguments in opposition. That’s yet another lesson that Trump has taught at least the next generation of GOP politicians. I see Nikki Halley is already being talked up, but the future actually lies with the likes of Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo, and Kristi Noem.

Who National’s future lies with I have no idea.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 6, 2021 at 10:23 am

Your Government Approved Hug is here

In case you were wondering whether the response of governments around the world to the pandemic of Chinese Sinus AIDS has set us on new paths of authoritarian control into the future, the following news out of Britain should tell you that the answer is “YES”.

What will enable this is not just the never-ending lust of politicians to control every aspect of your life but the cultural changes enabled by the disease response, including the way academia and the media treat this news:

Oh joy! Thank you, thank you government.

On the non-government good news front there is this longer term trend.

The prime reasons for this are:

  • The death of Mao Tse Tung in 1976.
  • The collapse of the USSR and it’s Eastern Bloc of slave states.
  • The pushback against Democratic Socialism starting in the 1980’s with Reagan and Thatcher.
  • The rise of the Southeast Asian states as part of the Pacific Rim growth.
  • The collapse of the post-colonialist regimes across Africa in the last twenty years. Despite various awful events that continent is actually growing its GDP quite well and may be on the verge of a China-type period of economic expansion. Given its population growth rate they need to.

A reader has raised an interesting question as to the worth of that $700 in 1968 vs today. The answer is that it’s worth $US 5,327.99 in 2021.

Of course that begs the question of what is meant by “inflation”, and the following chart has a very interesting take on that. Of course it’s the USA and only since 2000, but still.

There is also this as food for thought on things getting better.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 12, 2021 at 2:11 pm

We shall defend our Island…

Not a headline I expected to see in the early 21st century.

Apparently it’s something to do with fishing vessels

A Franco-British feud over access to prime fishing waters escalated on Thursday as the two countries deployed patrol and navy ships near the Channel island of Jersey.

Access to Britain’s rich fishing waters was a major sticking point in post-Brexit talks. A transition period was agreed in which EU fishermen would give up 25 percent of their current quotas — the equivalent of 650 million euros per year — in 2026. The deal would then be renegotiated every year.

Until then, EU vessels have access to an area between six to 12 nautical miles from Britain’s coast, but they have to ask for new licenses.

This is where things got complicated.

The French side says London acted outside of the deal by tightening conditions for access to UK waters

Basically a repeat of the Great Cod War of the mid-1970’s then. Not until reading that Wiki did I realise that there had been similar stoushes in the early 1970’s and 1958-1961.

It seems the French are already turning to the comfort of land warfare, where they have a history of far more success against the British than at sea:

“We’re ready to resort to retaliatory measures” that are in the Brexit accord, Girardin told lawmakers in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“Concerning Jersey, I’ll remind you of the transport of electricity via submarine cables,” she added. “I would regret it if we have to do it, but we’ll do it if we have to.”

Anyway, I don’t think we should treat this as entirely funny because, as the great Edmund Blackadder once said:

Doesn’t anyone know? We hate the French! We fight wars against them!

Did all those men die in vain on the field at Agincourt?

Was the man who burned Joan of Arc simply wasting good matches?

Written by Tom Hunter

May 10, 2021 at 5:32 pm

INTERESTING HAPPENINGS IN THE UK

They’re counting the votes in the UK as I write this in elections to decide the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments; local government in England and the Hartlepool by-election … and there are surprises aplenty already.

In Hartlepool where Labour was defending a 3,500 majority, having held the seat since 1964, it appears that the Tories are in for a big win with Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary effectively conceding the seat … a seat that was widely viewed as a litmus test as to whether Sir Keir Starmer as the new Labour leader was cutting the mustard.

So if Boris is seen by some as a joke then perhaps the jokes on Sir Keir.

Written by The Veteran

May 7, 2021 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Britain

Tagged with ,

THEY COULD ALMOST BE NORMAL,

How refreshing.

With the media obsession with the ex “Royal” Sussex odd couple The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have released video of their family at rest away from the Glare constantly accompanying their very different lives.

It was caught on Sky news Au this morning, What a contrast to the desperate attempt with Oprah Winfrey. by Harry Windsor as his Granddad was in terminal decline.

Written by Gravedodger

April 30, 2021 at 9:20 am

Posted in Britain

Beauty and Terror

Right now we’re in need of beauty more than ever, so here’s a couple of photos to feast your eyes on, starting with one that looks like it could be an oil painting by Edwin Landseer or perhaps Winslow Homer.

The second has a similar quality to it, in this case something that could come from a number of the artists from the famous Hudson River School in the USA.

Meantime, after almost two months of quiet, harvesting season is upon us and I’m about to re-enter the grind of six day weeks and 15 hour days. Fortunately I won’t be driving my rigs anywhere like this. Photos taken at Dingleburn Station in the South Island.

H/T to fellow blogger HomePaddock for pics one and three.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 16, 2021 at 10:15 am

Brexit Triumph For Boris…

…… and for common sense.

Does anyone remember that strange little fellow who used to hang aound here shouting about the end being nigh for Britain if Brxit went ahead? He lived in bombed out U Boat pen in La Rochelle.

I hope Kiwi and Aussie primary producers are able to grab this opportunity with both hands.

In passing, I didn’t come across this in the Australian media which is preoccupied publishing meaningless hourly updates on the number of Covid infections.

Written by adolffinkensen

January 2, 2021 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Britain, Europe

Tagged with ,

NATURE 1 VS TECHNOLOGY 0

Back in 1975 the British Forces Broadcasting Service Singapore was one of seventeen radio and TV stations worldwide providing entertainment for UK servicemen and their dependents. BFBS Singapore was somewhat unique as it catered for the Australian and New Zealand members of the ANZUK force as well. It operated out of a very modern studio building in Tanglin and was staffed by seven professional full-time staff as well as a small number of volunteers. I was ‘volunteered’ for the job by the Commander NZFORSEA and, after a period of training in the BBC tradition (stick rigidly to the script and be sensitive that you’re broadcasting in another sovereign country), every Thursday from 6.00 pm until midnight close-down our listening audience was subjected to my dulcet tones. My signature programme was ‘music to go to bed to’ … not sure how I ever got away with that name … I digress.

At nights we worked alone and in those days of steam radio many of our programmes were pre-recorded and programmed into what we called the carousel which occupied a wall at the back of the studio. It was a marvelous piece of engineering and did much of the work for you. You programmed it to let pre-recorded programmes go at a certain time; it could automatically switch over to the BBC Far Eastern Relay Service for the BBC news and then switch back again to the studio proper if you were going to go live. It did away with having to have an engineer on duty at night. It was the pride and joy of the station manager. Nothing could possibly go wrong …

So it came to pass that on one dark and stormy night I turned up at the studio to do my shift. There were bolts of lightning everywhere and the atmosphere was crackling with static electricity. About 45 minutes into my shift the huge bolt of lightning struck the transmitter tower on top of the building. Chaos ensued … the carousel literally went berserk … it activated programme after programme, sometimes two together, and absolutely refused to let me override it all the while jumping in and out of the BBC and finally, when I managed to gain a degree of control, the bloody thing unleashed music over my voice all the while emitting strange noises and even more worrying smells.

In the end I gave up and pulled the plug on the transmitter and laid back in my chair and thought of England and how I was going to enjoy my Thursday nights in the wake of my firing. God must have felt sorry for me because I wasn’t. The official explanation … twas but a quirk of nature. However the carousel underwent substantial modification.

It was about that time I became very suspicious of new technology and those singing its praises … my suspicion continues to this day.

p.s. The station still operates in Singapore on 88.9 FM but is a fully automated service relaying programes direct from the BBC World Service.

Written by The Veteran

September 14, 2020 at 5:34 pm

Agitprop for the Social Media Age

Many of our commentators continue to supply much Leftist boilerplate abuse and after these recent ones…

… bears similarities to your poster boy, Tommy Robertson.
….That’s the thing about fascists – believe what they say because they say what they want to impoose on the rest of us.
….I get that you don’t like ANTIFA as they are the bulwark standing against the neo-nazis you so admire and cheer on.
…The Reich Wing…

… I figured other people would get a laugh out of recent Jonathan Pie “doco”.

Naturally I’m not expecting the generators of comments like the above to get this at all. In fact I’m waiting to find out that both the character and the actor behind him, Tom Walker, are “reactionary fascists” or some such.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 22, 2020 at 11:15 pm