The Labour Party’s “Two Chinas” policy

Remember the “Two Chinas” policy – no, not the one signed today between Beijing and Taipei re economic cooperation – but the historic one that purportedly simultaneously recognised both the Beijing and Taipei regimes as the legitimate Chinese government?

Well, it seems the New Zealand Labour Party has its own current version –  but with respect to Tibet.

Here’s Labour MP Raymond Huo:

The problem Dr Norman has – as argued by the Chinese community here in New Zealand – is that he wanted to teach the visiting Chinese leader a lesson but without understanding the history of the region.

Dr Norman may believe that his supporters don’t care about history. It is true that for too long many Kiwis were exposed to only one side of the story.

And sometimes it is painful to see that some of Dr Norman’s supporters have just enjoyed sticking to the one sided story and could not be bothered to look at the other side. Indeed it is sometimes difficult to even initiate a quality debate on sensitive issues such as that of Tibet.

But here’s his fellow Labour MP Phil Twyford:

Raymond, I don’t share your assumption that New Zealanders, and those who raise the issue of human rights in Tibet, are ignorant of Tibetan history. You seem intent on listing a litany of brutalities committed by the Tibetans prior to the Chinese takeover. Well mate, others can play that game. The Chinese human rights record will make a compelling list. And we could make a similar list for most countries if we go back over a century or so.

You may not like it but the Dalai Lama is as far as I can tell the legitimate and widely recognised leader of Tibetans both in China and outside. He has become a symbol of their aspirations to self-determination, and a lightning rod for international concern about breaches of human rights by the Chinese government.

I’m with Phil Twyford on this one.  Raymond Huo’s analysis is a bit like saying the apartheid regime imposed by the Boers in South Africa was justified on the basis of the past “lawlessness” and “inferiority” of the indigenous people.

Raymond, I acknowledge that things were not that flash for indigenous Tibetans before the Chinese occupation.

But times move on, and people, including the Dalai Lama, learn.  And indigenous people have a right to self-determination.

I seriously doubt that the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders would ever consider reverting to the pre-occupation practices you rightly despise, Raymond,  (which, actually, are little if any worse than the post-occupation practices of the Beijing regime).

Anyway, good that MPs of the same political party are prepared to debate issues they disagree on openly.  Well done Phil and Raymond.

137 thoughts on “The Labour Party’s “Two Chinas” policy

  1. It does seem to me that the concept of The State being something separate and apart from ‘the people’ is quite bizarre. It assumes that the Representatives we elect are uniquely competent to direct our society in a way we, the people, know not how to do.

  2. Re land, an explicit part of Russel’s argument is that foreign competition for NZ land drives prices up, making fewer and fewer residents able to consider owning a farm. How does replacing NZ based owners with those overseas benefit the public interest?

    The rhetoric is designed to create a perception of public ownership of the regime’s military forces,

    The idea is a simple one. That the NZ public bears some responsibility for what the govt it elects does in it’s name, unlike say, for some other country’s military forces. Should Kiwis not feel any responsibility for govt policy and actions overseas?

    and, arising therefrom, public acceptance of the aims and conduct of the Afghan war

    In fact, just the opposite, that it is wrong, we have responsibility, and should do something to end NZ involvement in the war.

  3. from www. republican. co. nz website

    “Our dairy farms”.

    Political rhetoric frequently employs the first person plural ( “we” and “our”) to imply a social, ethnic, local, or national community of interest. When Green Party politicians speak of “our national parks” they are implying that the people of New Zealand have the rights and responsibilities of ownership of parklands, including the right to use and enjoy, and the responsibility to protect and maintain. Strictly speaking the institution of the state holds title to the national parks, and the state exercises those responsibilities through its various agencies such as the Department of Conservation, but there is a common expectation that the state acts on behalf of the people, and cannot use, or dispose of the national parks in ways which conflict with the popular will.

    So far so good. But when Green Party leader Russel Norman uses the first person possessive in regards to “our dairy farms” he is misleading. Dairy farms are privately owned. Dairy farmers do not claim to own their lands on behalf of the public, and neither they nor the state recognise any public right to use and enjoyment. The public, for their part, do not lay claim to any such rights beyond the limited controls that are established in specific pieces of legislation such as the Resource Management Act.

    Norman uses the phrase “our dairy farms” in a context which is very different to that which pertains to “our national parks”. The public have no real or perceived rights and responsibilities with respect to dairy farms. So is he attempting to create a perception of public rights where none currently exist, as a prelude to establishing such rights in reality? Is he laying the groundwork for nationalisation of the dairy industry? Some might think so. To adherents of the extreme “free-market” ideology that has dominated New Zealand political discourse over the past three decades, any restriction upon private ownership rights amounts to “nationalisation”.

    That would be an unreasonable conclusion in this case There is no suggestion that Norman wants nationalisation of the dairy industry. He is advocating a specific and limited restriction upon the right of private owners to sell to foreign buyers which actually leads in the opposite direction to nationalisation. He intends the term “our dairy farms” to imply a community of interest between the public and dairy farm owners similar to the widely perceived community of interest between the state and the public that is implied in the phrase “our national parks”.

    The interests of the state and of the public are not always, or even fundamentally, identical as shown by the row over the state’s recent attempts to begin mining national parks. If the interests of the state and the public can be at cross purposes, the interests of dairy farmers and the public have even less in common. Dairy farming is a business, and dairy farmers do not subordinate their business interests to the public good. The New Zealand public have no rights of access to, or use, or enjoyment of dairy farms. They pay at, or above, international market rates for dairy products. They have no direct influence or control over the likes of Fonterra or Crafar Farms or any of the hundreds of other individual and corporate owners of dairy farms in this country.

    The actions that Norman is proposing, and the rhetoric that he is using, will help entrench New Zealand domiciled dairy farm owners as a class. Individual dairy farm owners, such as the Crafars, may be restricted in one set of circumstances (as prospective sellers), and benefit in another (as prospective buyers). But New Zealand farmers as a class will draw strength from restrictions upon the foreign competition for resources, and the identification of their interests with the interests of the New Zealand public, however misguided that may be.

    Norman’s rhetoric does not accord with the social, economic, or legal reality of farm ownership in New Zealand. Neither is it an indication that he wishes to effect a substantial change in the system of ownership and control of farmlands. He creates the illusion that the New Zealand public has a community of interest with institutions such as Fonterra and Crafar Farms, and that keeping ownership in their hands will benefit the public interest. He has failed to make the case that New Zealanders as a whole are better off with people like the Crafars than they would be with Chinese farm owners.

    A similar problem arises when the Green Party speaks of “our troops” in Afghanistan. The rhetoric is designed to create a perception of public ownership of the regime’s military forces, and, arising therefrom, public acceptance of the aims and conduct of the Afghan war. This rhetoric is not only at odds with the reality; it also conflicts with the long-term and moral interests of the New Zealand people. The moral of the tale? Beware of any politician who glibly invokes the first person plural. Be aware of where your material and moral interests really lie.

  4. I grow a little weary of this exchange and feel it has been given a thorough going over. I suppose that in reality my heart agrees with the thrust of your argument but my head is not persuaded.

    Does it all boil down to whether one believes that we humans can bend everything to our will, particularly endless expansion in a finite world, or can we limit our ambitions by encouraging and enabling co-operation, sharing, and fair play in all our dealings.

    In view of the current state of play, I think the jury is very definitely still out.

  5. Natural law in the sense that it is in man’s nature to own or have more or less complete control over the disposition of the piece of land he occupies.

    A foreign owner does not “occupy” the land as a general rule, and without residency or citizenship it isn’t actually legal for him to stay here. So “natural law” arguments would seem to be AGAINST foreign ownership being permitted.

    Who would decide on the norms and how would it be policed and administered. Furthermore it would tend to exclude new ideas and surely encourage fear of ‘the other’

    The inability to form a nation that excludes others would be fatal to any nation-state that appeared even slightly desirable to live in, given the global population and hunger for lebensraum. This is an argument that properly belongs to the 16th century, not the overpopulated 21st. You appear to fail on the test of self-protection, the principle reason for the existence/creation of a nation.

    As for Soviet practices – It could be argued that the absence of a property owning population, whether it was the result of or the precursor to a totalitarian centrally planned state apparatus did end with the systemic failure we saw.

    I don’t argue against ownership. I argue against FOREIGN ownership, and that is not at all the same as the communist denial of private property. The totalitarian state was a result of the complete failure of Marx as a student of human nature, rather than his failures as an economist or successes with revolutionary theory.

    Unfortunately the system seems to tend towards state control of everything

    It should not do so. It harks back to the situation when a nation had a treasury, a store of gold in its vaults and issued money that was redeemable. The implications of that arrangement did not require the state to control everything. It does imply at least some degree of state management of all transactions involving electrical energy. Someone who generates their own and uses it themselves is unaffected. Someone who sells a surplus onward may have the state as a customer. I tend to think that this will be a regulated price transaction. Anything else however, is simply the use of money much as it has always been properly used.

    The use in terms of foreign exchange has some additional features. It vastly increases the “friction” the money is subjected to at the borders between this country and all others. I reckon this is a good thing. Bankers hate it. They have near zero resistance, the velocity of money looks a lot like the speed of light, and the result is THEIR total control of everything. Choosing between unelected bankers and elected representatives is relatively easy for me… harder for libertarians.

    The OVERALL good that flows from my ownership of a foreign property is I think, quite debatable. It can be good-for-me, but it is almost certainly going to damage others. It may damage people yet unborn if I am a poor steward, and the strongest motive for people doing this is profit. An exception could be the efforts of conservation groups to buy up land to slow the rate of its destruction… but I doubt that they are making an actual gain in the long run.

    It also makes no sense when applied to corporate entities as it is then commonly linked to issues of National Security and becomes a part of the whole obfuscation and confusion regarding what may or not be ‘good for us’ in that sense.

    Is that the one I missed? I am a very busy person. Sorry. I swiped the low-hanging fruit.

    Corporate ownership of our land is not “confusing”. The corporation is allowed the legal fig-leaf that it is a person and given immense power in terms of protecting its officers from lawsuits. It must be a citizen of the country in order to own the property, or it must lease it from a citizen.

    Same rule works there. Makes the exploitation meme a bit less attractive.

    respectfully
    BJ

  6. I note that you have chosen to only comment on two elements of my previous post – possibly those that suit your line of argument.

    Natural law in the sense that it is in man’s nature to own or have more or less complete control over the disposition of the piece of land he occupies. It gives security, a sense of belonging, and encourages his integration into his community. This is surely the main argument when considering the rent/buy puzzle.

    An owner would normally be considered more desirable from the viewpoint of the current population as they would rightly be considered as having a stronger commitment to that area. Consider the situation where a family intends to move into a new area. Should they have to comply with the norms of that community beforehand and pass some sort of test to ensure this. (that of citizenship or residency, religion perhaps). Who would decide on the norms and how would it be policed and administered. Furthermore it would tend to exclude new ideas and surely encourage fear of ‘the other’. As I have previously suggested I believe that such restrictions tend to expand and come to include other requirements and lead to many unexpected consequences.

    As for Soviet practices – It could be argued that the absence of a property owning population, whether it was the result of or the precursor to a totalitarian centrally planned state apparatus did end with the systemic failure we saw.

    It does not follow that an individuals lack of a desire to own property or assets in another jurisdiction necessarily should be extended to all, or that this prohibition would be an overall good. Ref your statement that you would not desire to and can see no good that may flow from it.

    Believe me, I have no faith in the current system and can only foresee it’s collapse, but I have heard no argument that persuades me that any other approach would do better. I have been thinking hard about your suggestion of ‘energy credits’, and have been working through some of the implications. Unfortunately the system seems to tend towards state control of everything, but maybe I’m wrong. I would love to hear a full explanation.

  7. It is reminiscent of Soviet practices which spectacularly failed to achieve the results intended.

    Soviet practices? You mean where the state owned everything? Somehow I know that that was not anything I advocated. Please be more specific about how this prohibition resembles some distinctly failed policy. I do not think that there is enough such resemblance to be important, and would like to know why you do.

    respectfully
    BJ

  8. Contrary to natural law?

    By what measure? I would LOVE to see a justification for someone in New Mexico owning a section in Khandallah… in any time prior to the last century. This is ONLY a sensible possibility with Jet Airplanes and instant communications… or with the naval resources that allowed the projection of force across oceans that pertained in the century prior.

    Before that, it was flatly impossible.

    How then, can it be natural?

    Clearly there is some interpretation of those words that escapes me.

    🙂

    BJ

  9. I agree with BJ that the present system is not sustainable and must change. An economic system that depends on constant growth is eventually doomed in a world with finite resources. http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/destined-fail-magical-thinking-g20/41097 . An economic system that allows the following should fail. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-goldman-gambled-on-starvation-2016088.html .
    However if we did anything about it unilaterally I suspect we would be punished for not toeing the line. We would have a forced change of Government like Chile, Iran, Indonesia etc. Or be denied funding like India pre 1980. Life is being made very uncomfortable for Venezuela at the moment because they dared to elect a socialist government. We may get lucky and be left alone if not to much oil is discovered in our waters!
    The amount of assets owned offshore and the overseas control of our banking system already makes it difficult to change our own destiny.

  10. I was actually putting a question, rather than a point of view, and am still interested to hear what thoughts others may have.

  11. On this issue I agree completely with Geoff. Any system of control of ownership of property such as restricting ownership of NZ property to residents or citizens is economically damaging, contrary to ‘natural law’,discriminatory, would quickly become a bureaucratic nightmare, be open to extreme corruption, and may result in retaliation by other states. Other unexpected consequences would be sure to follow.

    It is reminiscent of Soviet practices which spectacularly failed to achieve the results intended. In all cases where it has become law it has led to some or all of the above mentioned. It is practised in such states as UAE, Saudi Arabia and the like, few of whose laws I would like to emulate.

    It also makes no sense when applied to corporate entities as it is then commonly linked to issues of National Security and becomes a part of the whole obfuscation and confusion regarding what may or not be ‘good for us’ in that sense. It also turns out in probably all cases that the ‘good’ obtained from foreign ownership of property and assets by locally owned companies or individuals equals or exceeds that obtained by foreign ownership in the balance of payments sense.

    As previously posted I also believe that it helps to integrate ‘foreigners’ into our community, and strengthens rather than weakens our ‘National Identity’, whatever that is.

  12. I don’t like to encourage people to make claims about what they would do if only their circumstances were different. Such talk ecompassses the full range of wishful thinking, mindless speculation, empty promises, political posturing and simple naivety. Matters of substance are limited to one’s actual capacity at the given moment.

    But since a lot of politics involves members of a political party saying what they would do if elected to government, I will follow the rules of the game to the extent of asking why the Green Party would choose to prohibit foreign ownership of land, instead of, say, imposing limits (or an outright ban) upon any corporate ownership of land, and limits upon the amount of land which can be held by any one individual.

    Would not ownership controls (as distinct from “foreign ownership controls”) provide a better means to whatever ends the Green Party has in mind? Does the Green Party really want corporate farms and corporate forests run by salaried managers and wage labourers? If not, then why not impose ownership controls which would solve the problems of foreign control and at the same time provide for fairer, more efficient and sustainable ownership of the means of production?

  13. you mean that the act of becoming a resident somehow wipes out their previous status

    Well no…. it simply means that they have acquired a new and additional “status” and taken on a new commitment to this country… but yeah… that’s the misunderstanding I was suspecting 🙂

    As to how it COULD work, the answer is that it would be very like replacing the current NZ dollars with “energy credits” and associated nationalization of a variety of energy resources. The backing for our dollars being the energy we control, that would be a necessity. It IS complicated. More detail is being generated in the Green Party internal forum. I am hoping to make it a more fully detailed plan than what the Democrats have in terms of “social credit”. The difficulty of that being time.

    Think “Lifeboat ethics”. Mine isn’t nationalism in the usual sense.

    Not understanding why you want to allow visitors a “right” to have firearms permits here, but sure… it isn’t as important (realistically). We already have a reasonable set of firearms laws and the fact that there is no “right” associated is moot as the privilege is restricted in detail.

    Geoff – I am not so consistent. The titular “head of state” could be a Martian given her actual importance to how our government actually fails to work for us citizens. It is not important to me. Sorry.

    respectfully
    BJ

  14. To explain: you can’t have a citizenship requirement for public office in New Zealand because the head of state would fail to qualify.

    Well we have one, at least for Parliament. So either the head of state is considered a citizen by default, or is exempted. I don’t know which.

  15. I do agree that residency should be a requirement to vote in elections. The misunderstanding may have come about because I interpreted your statement re your desire not to be ruled by people from China America etc. as meaning whether they had become resident or not. I now see that you mean that the act of becoming a resident somehow wipes out their previous status. Your interpretation would still enable citizens of any country to be MP’s, but they first must qualify as resident in NZ.

    This raises the possibility in my mind that it may be good if this was a requirement – that they had had experience of other jurisdictions – as part of their qualification to being an MP.

    I am very suspicious of Nationalism so abolition of borders or distinctions re nationality may well be a good move. One world govt. anyone ? (only joking).

    Re other points raised, guns etc. agree to disagree ?

    Your ideas re wealth accumulation as theft from the future do ring bells with me but where is the alternative. I have read your views about going it alone etc., disentangling the NZ dollar from the world system and so on, but fail to see how this could be achieved or that it would be possible at all, let alone how the alternative could work to our benefit.

  16. To explain: you can’t have a citizenship requirement for public office in New Zealand because the head of state would fail to qualify.

  17. Why should people not be allowed to choose their own leaders? Why place restrictions upon their choice? Every state I know of does just that. In New Zealand there is a requirement of an oath of allegiance to the crown, which effectively explains why there is no citizenship requirement. But I fail to see why people should not be allowed to exercise a completely free choice in the matter. Perhaps bj chip could explain.

  18. Photon

    The first is simply true. I don’t invest often. I do so when I have a few bucks and I invest in companies that make something or things that I know will hold value. Each investment I have made has doubled in 18 months.

    The other investment I made was in myself. Which has paid off nicely thank you. I remain employed. Productive and employable at a high rate of pay. Have been for a long time. Expect to be for a few more years.

    ++++++++++++++++

    Fraud isn’t the same as theft. If may entail theft, but it is more often done legally at the level I am describing, and since you are willfully ignoring the standards set by the banking and investment sector in the USA, in Iceland and elsewhere, you will not reckon the costs to the society properly. Nor the inevitable collapse… or do you think that this is all going to end well for the countries and new generations that the bankers are raping and claiming it all on THEIR bottom line?

    “There are many good and bad people through all levels of society”

    That is true.

    I know however, how hard it is to EARN money. People who get very wealthy aren’t in general, earning most of it. Which means that the redistribution of wealth that is happening to favor them, and which may be LEGAL, is still a form of fraud. Advantages often come from systemic dishonesty, not their own. That does not change my regarding the advantage as dishonest or fraudulent. The people taking advantage of these situations are lying to themselves however, or simply innocent of understanding the impossibility, that they can “earn” such wealth without others taking a beating as a result.

    BJ

  19. bjchip says “I don’t count stolen goods as profit. I earn my wages and my investments, such as they have been, have always doubled within years.”

    With all due respect this is utter nonsense, as is the following. Not everybody, or even most people who have money have stolen it.

    “The fraud that the current moneyed class indulges in to steal from the future doesn’t impress me in the least. ”

    There are many good and bad people thought all levels of society.

  20. I do better Photonz. I don’t start with anything, but I do better.

    I don’t count stolen goods as profit. I earn my wages and my investments, such as they have been, have always doubled within years.

    The position of a person on the “Rich Lists” is not usually a recommendation of honesty. The fraud that the current moneyed class indulges in to steal from the future doesn’t impress me in the least.

    As for the failures of previous government, I don’t doubt that they imagined that they had control.

    You might point me at whatever history you know of that pertains to their failure so I might explain better just how and where they were not actually in control. No nation I know of has actually had such control for several centuries now. Certainly since before NZ came into being.

    Remember this?

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

    – Jefferson

    It has to end Photon, it can’t be sustained and it WILL end.

    BJ

  21. Your statement that you do not want to be represented by a person from named countries is surely a desperate appeal to extreme Nationalism and would put the kybosh on your ambition to be an MP as you would still be an American but merely described differently.

    Sorry, one of us must be making a hash of this. I cannot possibly understand you correctly. If I am to be represented by random people from around the globe rather than citizens of this country, then surely, since we are outnumbered a thousand to one by those people around the world, we are ENTIRELY owned by whoever has, for whatever reason, placed the most members in our parliament. I cannot believe that you place no restriction whatsoever, not even residence, on an MP. How can Joe Bloggs out of Boston who has never set foot in our country, have any right, interest, knowledge or responsibility for us? How is refusing him the right to take such a position in our country… extreme?

    I fail to understand this usage when there is no country on the planet that willingly permits citizens of OTHER countries to control it. Yup, the Chinese have a right to run Tibet, and Guatamala if they are so inclined. ???? Even if they have never set foot in the country ????

    The condition of citizenship or residency is a minimum in any country on the planet, for participation in that country’s democracy (where democracy exists). In other countries it is less important except in determining who owns you. I fail to see this as being an extreme position.

    First: We cannot allow people to just show up here if they feel like coming. The country could not survive such an immigration policy.

    Second: We cannot allow people to just vote in our elections, even though they have not demonstrated the commitment to become legal residents or citizens here.

    Third: We certainly cannot allow people to represent us in Parliament if they have not demonstrated the commitment to become legal residents or citizens here.

    You seem to be arguing against the existence of separate nations BBK. I cannot otherwise fathom the depth of misunderstanding that clearly exists here.

    Except that you claim that becoming a citizen of NZ somehow transforms that persons outlook and makes them able to judge more perfectly what is good for this country and it’s citizens. Surely it is the knowledge that may be brought with that person, not forgetting the capital they may bring, that enables them to contribute more.

    That person who is so selfless as to wish to govern some other nation’s affairs, and takes so deep an interest that their knowledge exceeds those of the inhabitants of that other nation… perhaps we have a word for that person? Colonialist? Perhaps?

    Except that that word has been debased somewhat in usage because it has in practice never been anything but selfish exploitation of others.

    BBK, it isn’t magical and there will be some who fail their promise, but I do trust that our citizens and residents are more interested in the well being of New Zealand, than random foreigners…. many of whom could not find us on a globe. This is scarcely “extreme nationalism” given that it is universally accepted usage anywhere on this planet.

    I persist in thinking that you and I are misunderstanding each other in some strange manner. Using the same words to mean something very different somehow. I cannot imagine what boundaries you’d set on becoming an MP or being permitted to vote here. None seem to exist.

    BJ

  22. bj – last time we were controlling our currency the country ended up just days away from bankruptcy.

    Interesting that you say you do better than professional investors. Many wise investment experts with sage advice are well up or at the top of the countries and worlds rich lists – and you claim to be doing better?????

  23. you might find that non-NZ citizens can vote, because Parliament believed that any British person should have that right. Much later parliament parliament decided it could no longer justify discriminating in favour of Brits, so the privilege was extended to all residents. Not a mistake, just another interesting relict of colonialism.

  24. Whilst you haven’t answered my points fully, let me answer those you’ve made.

    Surely one of the requirements of participation (learning who we are and we them) is the ability to be fully involved in all the machinations of that society including being able to select those who represent us in Parliament and thus to influence how we are governed, perhaps by introducing new ideas as I’ve suggested.

    On the contrary I would have felt it extremely unfair if I had not been allowed to vote in NZ elections, citizen, resident or not, but allowed because of my being a participant/member of that community and therefore with the right to decide how it was to be regulated. Part of the conditionality of the acceptance of my presence is the responsibility to fully participate and to be allowed to, thus encouraging more full integration.

    I would have thought that having purchased land here would encourage a person to be here more often than not.

    Your statement that you do not want to be represented by a person from named countries is surely a desperate appeal to extreme Nationalism and would put the kybosh on your ambition to be an MP as you would still be an American but merely described differently.

    Except that you claim that becoming a citizen of NZ somehow transforms that persons outlook and makes them able to judge more perfectly what is good for this country and it’s citizens. Surely it is the knowledge that may be brought with that person, not forgetting the capital they may bring, that enables them to contribute more.

  25. Just like several finance companies fell due to circumstances outside their control, the NZ market has big fluctuations, often exagerated by currency fluctuations, that often have nothing to do with NZ and are totally outside our control.

    Actually, if we controlled our own currency properly these fluctuations would belong to the bad-old-days. I’ve already described the method here at least once or twice. We would have control.

    Moreover, you are quite correct that no professional investor would do as I do. I do better than they do with my money.

    BJ

  26. bjchips says “The question is simply this. Can we prosper on our own? I believe that we can”

    It depends what you mean by on our own. It’s pretty obvicous that we can’t survive without selling to the world = certainly not if we want the same lifestyle we have now, and have things like healthcare, benefits etc.

    On our own, most of our top industries would be all put wiped out – tourism, dairy, meat, wine, fruit, forestry etc.

    BJ – your belief in only investing in NZ is counter to what virtually every investment expert would advise.

    Putting all the countries investments in one small market is about as foolish as putting all your money in one small investment company.

    Just like several finance companies fell due to circumstances outside their control, the NZ market has big fluctuations, often exagerated by currency fluctuations, that often have nothing to do with NZ and are totally outside our control.

  27. BBK

    I probably should have made it clearer… I may want to have additional restrictions on firearms for other reasons. I was specifically addressing the issue of having foreigners here permitted the right to firearms. I don’t believe they do now in any case, but I was addressing “things that one should restrict to citizens and residents” only in the context of that THAT reason for the restriction. I by no means favor a universally armed population… heckfire, I came here partly to get away from that mistake.

    Not letting foreigners have guns reduces somewhat, the risk of foreigners with guns making trouble for the natives. Not that foreign armies are likely to abide by the law when constable bob meets them at the surfline and tells them off for carrying firearms, but it makes the risk of being overrun internally, less. May seem unimportant. Principle however, is IMO, important.

    🙂

    I fail to see that the right to own land, be armed with guns, or to seek election to Parliament as a Green MP strikes to the heart of our identity as a nation.

    I thought it was madness that I could vote in elections here as a resident. I would really REALLY rather not be represented by folks from Russia, China, the USA and Iran. Want to be an MP? You have to be a citizen. That’s a bottom line I can’t imagine anyone really arguing… I half suspect you left it in by mistake.

    The one about the land is the only one you can really make a case for… and I simply disagree.

    “In any case if part of that definition was ‘welcomes newcomers and encourages them to become property owners’, I would welcome it”

    As long as the newcomer makes the minimum commitment to become a resident or citizen here, fine. I want to see their warm-pink-bodies HERE a good part of the time. They have to learn who we are and we them. I’m not saying they can’t come. Net Migration is another issue entirely but it is important that they BE part of this country if they are going to own part of it.

    respectfully
    BJ

  28. BJ -thanks for taking the trouble to answer my query although I don’t find the answer satisfies my perhaps Libertarian attitudes. Apart from other objections I may have, particularly to your view on arming the populace, I have the distinct feeling that your scheme would only add to our troubles. It seems that it reverses the current situation where capital has virtually no boundaries but people have, and furthermore accentuates the divisions between us and strengthens the hirerarchical nature of society. It also smacks of the ‘some are more equal than others’ nature of our organising principals.

    In my view any prohibition brings with it more trouble than it eliminates, and has unintended consequences necessitating even more rules, but agree that long term benefit is what to aim at rather than immediate or knee jerk reaction to solve a temporary or specific political problem. (such as the fallout from dairy farms falling into foreign hands fiasco).

    I can think of many reasons why one would wish to import capital which carry with it new ideas and expertise – to avoid stagnation or so as not to encourage prejudice against outsiders who carry dangerous ideas or who somehow don’t subscribe to our idea of ‘Nationhood’, or who may be more able or have better technology they won’t share maybe because we don’t reach their standards, etc. etc.

    I fail to see that the right to own land, be armed with guns, or to seek election to Parliament as a Green MP strikes to the heart of our identity as a nation. Even the phrase ‘our identity as a nation’ defies definition because it means such different things to each of us. In any case if part of that definition was ‘welcomes newcomers and encourages them to become property owners’, I would welcome it.

    I submit that to protect oneself from exploitation one needs to first ensure that all who live under our law have the same rights and are considered equal from day one rather than having to reach some standard, the bar for which can be raised at any time, as is the case now (in an effort to prevent ‘our land’ from falling into the hands of foreign devils).

    The Gun Licence issue is one I struggle with. I think it fails your test of benefit to the country and it’s people in the long term. Where has this right made society safer or more secure. To me it seems to have had the opposite effect. I am not a prohibitionist but being armed with lethal weapons as a right seems one too far for me.

  29. Photon

    I never, ever, trust others as much as I trust myself.

    Given the way that foreign investments involve trust that foreign governments will not renege on their obligations or inflate their currencies beyond the normal levels of theft that they currently employ to render us slaves to the banks, I have no sympathy with investing outside our own realm.

    The question is simply this. Can we prosper on our own? I believe that we can… and honestly. You are telling me that we cannot and must rely on the dishonest to handle or BE our investments.

    Tsk.

    BJ

  30. bj chip could be right. The “distributed portfolio” theory under which New Zealand invests so much of its capital off-shore, is just that – a theory, and one which does not stand up well to critical scrutiny. It is not a law of nature, not even a law of economics. The consequences and risks of investing all, or the great majority, of New Zealand savings in New Zealand would need to be thought through carefully. There would be some added risks, and some added advantages. To get from here to there would, however, necessarily be a slow process. The New Zealand economy has become distorted and unstable as a result of its over-exposure to global capital flows. Putting that right would take time, and it might take say five years to redirect the bulk of “Cullen fund” investments back into the national economy. So long as the fund did not become a slush fund for special interst groups – in other words so long as New Zealand government had political integrity – there would be immense advantages to be gained.

  31. bj – the most basic rule from investing 101 is don’t put all your eggs in a single (and very tiny) market (like NZ).

  32. Let me be clear. I do believe that John Key’s “Jewishness” has helped to shape him as a politician. Key is much more at ease on Maori issues than was Helen Clark, for example. That can be attributed to purely personal characteristics, but arguable it may also reflect his own self-identity as one of an ethnic minority. I also believe, and this is perhaps more debatable, that Key may be able to effect the new relationship with China more easily than previous Prime Ministers could have because as a Jewish New Zealander he will be less enthralled by the notion that Britain is “home” and that China is a “problem”.

    Now you can disagree with me, and I could even be persuaded that I am wrong, but I am unlikely to be persuaded by Greens who refuse to engage on the issues and instead claim that my opinions are “tainted” and “smell” and deliver a barrage of insinuations. If you are right and the atmosphere on kiwiblog is even more unedifying than frogblog, then I certainly would not want to go there.

  33. Exactly. If we applied a no foreign ownership to ourselves, it would destroy our superanuation fund (Cullen Fund), and many Kiwisaver schemes, as well aa the investments of thousands of mum and dad investors.

    Nope… it would put us in the position of having to invest in ourselves though, and the returns wouldn’t be that flash unless we actually invested in ourselves instead of lining the banker’s pockets.

    Don’t go on about what would happen to us if we were to suddenly change the rules Photon.

    Actual productive enterprises are a lot slower to generate profits and gains. A lot quicker to help the real economy than making bankers wealthy though.

  34. “Similar to the hypocrasy (sic) of wanting to stop deep see (sic) drilling while at the same time not wanting petrol prices to go too high when we fill up.”

    I want both. See, no hypocrasy 🙂

  35. Geoff – I hadn’t imagined that it was either of those things.
    I believe you are correct in saying that you don’t know much about Kiwiblog, judging by what you say of it.
    All hell does break loose. I’ve wryly observed the breaking and it was loose.
    You would be mistaken indeed to think that all blogs are the same. I can’t imagine why you would think that.
    I’m with Valis in wishing to be alerted should you wish to venture into Kiwiblog territory and start waving Key’s cultural background around.
    All the best.

  36. I don’t know much about kiwiblog, but I very much doubt that all hell broke loose there when John Key laid claim to being Jewish. Frogblog is a different case.

    What was objected to here wasn’t that Key is Jewish but that you suggested this fact had some bearing on his possible “historic re-alignment of New Zealand’s foreign relations”. Most people would see that as very close to the line, even if you didn’t mean to sound racist.

    It would be a mistake to suppose that the sort of nonsense seen on frogblog is replicated on every other website.

    Geoff, whatever you do, don’t go to Kiwiblog! I wouldn’t want your illusions to be shattered. On the other hand, if you do decide to comment there, please let us know so we can watch 🙂

  37. Robert Guyton: Being Jewish is neither illegal nor immoral. I don’t know much about kiwiblog, but I very much doubt that all hell broke loose there when John Key laid claim to being Jewish. Frogblog is a different case. It would be a mistake to suppose that the sort of nonsense seen on frogblog is replicated on every other website.

  38. Bigblukiwi says “Still no-one wants to answer the question as to whether New Zealand citizens would be allowed to own property or anything else in another country”

    Exactly. If we applied a no foreign ownership to ourselves, it would destroy our superanuation fund (Cullen Fund), and many Kiwisaver schemes, as well aa the investments of thousands of mum and dad investors.

    However I think they would only want to apply it to others. Similar to the hypocrasy of wanting to stop deep see drilling while at the same time not wanting petrol prices to go too high when we fill up.

  39. BBK

    If I omitted answering you it was inadvertent. Apologies.

    There are three “rights” which I regard as nationally important.

    The right to own land. A NZ Citizen living abroad can own land here. A citizen or permanent resident here can own land here. We can own land elsewhere if the other nation’s laws (mistakenly IMO) permit it.

    I don’t want to “own land” in other countries. It makes no sense, that ownership. It is IMHO. part of the absurdly relaxed commerce we have created to make monetary shenanigans easier. It does not *in the long run* benefit the country or its people. However, if some other country makes it legal for Kiwi’s to buy up its land and we somehow manage to acquire sufficient gelt to do it, no NZ law should prevent it. Their country. Their business. Their problem.

    That’s the first one. The second would probably not occur to Greens, such peaceful and innocent souls we are 🙂

    The second is gun ownership:
    A citizenship or permanent residence should be required for people to be legally permitted to own, buy, carry or use firearms, given the air-rifle murders, firearms being anything with a muzzle energy above X. I am not sure how these rules are framed, but I think that this already exists. One of the actual gun owners out there probably could clarify that.

    The third already exists for certain:
    As a permanent resident I am trying to muster the energy (money) to take citizenship because there is actually a third right that is denied to people who are not in that category. I can’t put my name forward as a Green Candidate. One cannot be an MP without that little detail covered off.

    I think these are critical because they strike to the heart of our identity as a nation.

    I have no knowledge of others BBK, but my logic is based on that. Our national identity. Which is important in that the nation is the protection of its citizens from the exploitation of the wider world.

    Hence the need to have for instance, a defense force and appropriate defense policies.

    respectfully
    BJ

  40. Still no-one wants to answer the question as to whether New Zealand citizens would be allowed to own property or anything else in another country or what other rights would be denied to non-natives (non-citizens and non-permanent residents) who live in New Zealand. I remain mystified as to the logic or natural justice supporting this policy.

    I can see however that it flows from what I would characterise as a blind devotion to localism and denies all the unintended consequences which would likely result.

  41. Geoff

    Until I encountered you it never occurred to me to wonder whether Key was anything at all.

    BJ

  42. bj, certainly Geoff’s comment about Key smells funny. I’d have let it go though, but for the fact that he accused the Green Party of having racist policy in the very same thread without good reason. On this and so many matters, he is happy to leap to unreasonable conclusions about others actions and motives, but screams blue murder if his are ever questioned. We shouldn’t let such go by without being challenged.

  43. bbk, Green policy is that only citizens and permanent residents should be able to purchase land. That should answer all your questions I think.

  44. It’ll shake down into a ‘partnership’ arrangement between ‘us’ and ‘China’.
    A commonsense, balanced result that will be good for the economy and good for the environment.
    John Key will broker this for all New Zealanders.
    We will be grateful.
    The threat of foreign ownership will seem to be but a mirage, a distant memory.
    Our Prime Minister will never panda to the Chinese, we will whisper, admiringly.

  45. The sale of the Crafer farm is going to be an interesting case: first the proposed sale to NZ Natural Dairy Products should be rejected by the Overseas Investment Office on grounds of making misleading statements to the New Zealand public.

    The very name is deceptive I have read that it is actually an engineering company registered in Hong Kong.

    It is neither natural nor New Zealand!!!

    If that farm is sold to Natural Dairy Products (NZ ? ), then we know that the National Party is prepared to sell us all down the river.

    I go along with BJ our land should not belong to foreigners, if overseas business people want to do business here; then for heavens sake lease the land then NZ gets trade + rent + tax!!!

    And the land is still NZ owned!!!! But the looters will always argue that the horse has already bolted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. BJ – I have asked this before of you and others on similar threads but never had an answer.

    If you would deny property rights to ‘foreigners’ who wish to purchase property in NZ, then what other rights, given to ‘natives’, would you deny them. How would you define who is a foreigner (you perhaps, born in NY)).

    Would you deny these rights to NZ citizens living abroard i.e. no NZer could own property abroard or have the rights you might define under ‘other’.

    I usually agree broadly with your opinions and find your analysis of situations useful, but this ??? Where is the logic or justice in this view.

  47. Key’s claim to be “New Zealand’s fourth Jewish Prime minister” needs to be seen in historical context. Key is in particular invoking the memory of Julius Vogel’s administration, and at the same time acknowledging the different perspective that his Jewish heritage brings to the job. If bjchip is uncomfortable with that, it may be a reflection on his own cultural background rather than anything to do with John Key. We are not afraid to discuss ethnicity and its role in our lives. At the same time we do not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity. The reverse applies in some parts of the world (NY perhaps?). But that is not our problem.

  48. Geoff

    I dunno where Valis is from, but I’m from NY and where I am from your statement has the taint. It isn’t perhaps technically, a racist comment. It hits the consciousness as though it is.

    So, for me it raises some alarms…

    Not sure why, just know that bells went off. Had I been opposite you I might have perceived it as “racism”. Not saying it is… but the perception is bad enough.

    So so so possibly it is cultural. I’ve no axe to grind but this is not an issue that is productive between you and Valis.

    Nor Valis, is it necessarily all good on your side either.

    I just reckon that this will wander quickly into completely unproductive rancor.

    Better not to go there.

    You can both say “Yes Mom” and be about your business now 🙂

    respectfully
    BJ

  49. Truth

    I don’t care how productive or not the land is, it doesn’t belong to foreigners. Should not be sold on to foreigners.

    The more productive the land is the more quickly the damage to the country occurs, but there is an amount that I reckon is appropriate to be sold.

    None.

    Not one single square millimeter.

    BJ

  50. “A statement about race” is not the same as “racist”. If Valis had merely accused me of making a statement about race I might have demurred on that, but I would not have regarded it as a slander. However unsubstantiated accusations of racism would be considered slanderous by most people.

    And I am not even sure that John Key considers himself Jewish by race, or by religion. As far as I can see his Jewishness is a matter of self-identity. That sense of Jewish self-identity arguably makes him less susceptible to the perceived need for show of loyalty to the “English speaking nations” i.e. Britain, the US or Australia. Not a problem to me, probably not a problem to most New Zealanders, and I am sorry if it is a problem to Valis.

  51. The reasonable expectation is that the Green Party would not force the sale of foreign owned asset to New Zealand nationals.

    Why is that reasonable? Given our position against foreign ownership, it is just as logical to argue that we would in fact seek to repatriate assets whether we said so or not. There are certainly more commenters on this blog that would argue it that way.

    If that is not the case, then let the party tell us what they would intend. Tell us your policy.

    As you’ve pointed out, there isn’t policy covering asset repatriation and I’ve already said I don’t know what it would be. There are options other than all or nothing, however, and not currently having a policy on something doesn’t mean one is safe to assume what it would be if one was developed.

    Of more immediate relevance is why you think the Green Party, or anyone else, shouldn’t bring attention to the fact that the govt is about to make it easier for additional assets to be obtained by non-residents.

    There is no “racist” comment in my last post.

    You said that “New Zealand’s “fourth Jewish Prime Minister” might not show the same self-sacrificing loyalty to the “English speaking nations” as his predecessors”, strongly implying that if he weren’t Jewish he might be more “loyal”. It is not slander to think that is a statement about race. Or do I not understand English? Feel free to translate.

    More slander from the person who tried to insinuate that that if I did certain things, then I would be a hypocrite.

    What tortured logic. Of course there are certain things that, if you did them, you would be a hypocrite. There’s nothing notable about that, it applies to everyone. I can’t insinuate it because it’s a fact.

    I asked if you voted, because I didn’t think you would vote for someone who would take the oath. It seems to me that it would be hypocritical to vote for someone who would take the oath if you believe taking the oath is so wrong. I didn’t accuse you, I actually assumed you weren’t acting hypocritically!

    I asked a reasonable question. Why don’t you just answer it rather than play these games? I certainly haven’t ruled out the possibility that there’s another explanation – I even offered one. If you don’t want to answer the question, that’s your right, but then don’t accuse me of something that you don’t want to provide any evidence for. You can’t have it both ways.

  52. The reasonable expectation is that the Green Party would not force the sale of foreign owned asset to New Zealand nationals. If that is not the case, then let the party tell us what they would intend. Tell us your policy.

    There is no “racist” comment in my last post. More slander from the person who tried to insinuate that that if I did certain things, then I would be a hypocrite. Not a good look for the Green Party.

  53. The Green Party is saying that highly productive land should not be sold to foreign buyers.

    True, to any foreign buyers.

    This policy is directed particularly at China, and in particular concerns ownership of dairy farms.

    You have no reason to make that assumption which is explicitly false. China and farms are just the current issue facing NZ, but the policy has nothing to do with China, per se. A few years ago it was Americans wanting to buy iconic landscapes.

    The question for the Green Party must be: “Why, if foreign ownership is a bad thing for New Zealand, would you want to leave the commanding heights of the economy in foreign hands?

    Again you only assume that’s what the Party would want. In fact, it would not be a trivial thing to achieve. I have no idea how far we would attempt to go.

    What use in bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted?”

    Not all NZ assets are in foreign hands at present. The horse is not entirely through the door. The Key govt is planning to make it easier for the horse to escape. I can’t see why we shouldn’t fight it.

    Perhaps we should have. If we had thought more deeply about matters, we might have realised that New Zealand’s “fourth Jewish Prime Minister” might not show the same self-sacrificing loyalty to the “English speaking nations” as his predecessors.

    And you accuse us of being racist!

    It is perhaps still a little early to say with certainty that John Key is in the process of pushing through a historic re-alignment of New Zealand’s foreign relations, but the signs are there. Despite, or perhaps because of that, John Key is now arguing, in unison with the Green Party, that dairy farms should be an exception to the rules governing foreign investment.

    That’s bull as described above re the Green Party. As for Key, he’s said that he is concerned about land sales, while his govt takes actions to make them easier. As you point out below, he may only be trying to buy time with his constituency. The Green Party is certainly not in unison with Key.

    There is no basis in principle for this particular stand, and one can surmise that it is dictated by political expediency.

    For Key only.

  54. The Green Party is saying that highly productive land should not be sold to foreign buyers. This policy is directed particularly at China, and in particular concerns ownership of dairy farms. It is probably fair to say that The Green Party is opposed to the sale of any New Zealand assets to foreign entities. However the party does not seem to have a policy of forced repatriation of foreign owned land and assets. If they were to form a government, they would, presumably, leave existing foreign assets undisturbed. That would leave almost all the mass media, retail chains and banks, a large part of the transport industry, and other major players like Comalco and New Zealand Steel, Australian-owned. It would also leave most of the forest industry, and a very large proportion of sheep, cattle and deer farms, residential and commercial property, foreign-owned.

    The question for the Green Party must be: “Why, if foreign ownership is a bad thing for New Zealand, would you want to leave the commanding heights of the economy in foreign hands? What use in bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted?”

    John Key is in an even more difficult, and even more interesting position. He approves of Chinese investment in New Zealand, as he must. His government depends on continued large scale foreign investment in the New Zealand economy, and right now he has no real alternatives to China. In the pragmatic tradition of New Zealand governments, it seems he is prepared to walk away from Australia, the US and Britain in order to pursue the emerging relationship with China. The significance of Key’s recent refusal to grant the Australian request for more New Zealand troops in Afghanistan will not be lost on Canberra or Washington. It was, perhaps lost on many of us, because few of us would have expected that now would be the time, or that John Key would be the man, to lead New Zealand out of the US/Australian orbit and into the Chinese sphere of influence. Perhaps we should have. If we had thought more deeply about matters, we might have realised that New Zealand’s “fourth Jewish Prime Minister” might not show the same self-sacrificing loyalty to the “English speaking nations” as his predecessors. It is perhaps still a little early to say with certainty that John Key is in the process of pushing through a historic re-alignment of New Zealand’s foreign relations, but the signs are there.

    Despite, or perhaps because of that, John Key is now arguing, in unison with the Green Party, that dairy farms should be an exception to the rules governing foreign investment. There is no basis in principle for this particular stand, and one can surmise that it is dictated by political expediency. New Zealanders have long been told that the dairy industry is one of the few in which they can be internationally competitive. It is also one of the few major industries largely remaining in New Zealand hands. Added to that, it is a Chinese bid for the Crafar dairy farms which has brought the issue to public attention. Over the past half-century, New Zealanders have been taught to distrust China, and while that perception can change, it will not change as quickly as John Key might hope. New Zealand in 2010 is not quite George Orwell’s “1984”. The public need time to learn that the evil empire which threatened their freedom and whose expansion must be contained at all costs, is now to be the saviour of their economy and way of life. So it would be politically convenient for John if the Chinese bid for the Crafar farms were to go away. The New Zealand public would find it hard to accept that what they have been taught to regard as “their” crown jewel was to be unceremoniously handed over to the nation that they have been taught to think of as the institutionalisation of evil and a threat to everything they hold dear. If Key can make the Natural Foods/Crafar deal go away, he will have bought time in which to shift public perceptions in favour of China and away from the idea that dairy farming can be the salvation of New Zealand. And he will also buy time in which to reconcile dairy farmers themselves to the reality that they are going to lose a large part of their industry to foreign buyers.

    Dairy farming has not been, and can not be, the salvation of New Zealand, despite the almost obsessive importance politicians and the media have attached to its role in the New Zealand economy. It is a “special case” only because it is the last major sector of the economy to be sold off-shore. Yet it will inevitably follow the way of forestry, manufacturing, banking and retail because it has followed the same path to this point. Dairy farmers have failed to provide the capital necessary for expansion of dairy processing capacity in New Zealand. Instead they have used their wealth to bid up the price of dairy land in New Zealand, and they have recklessly speculated in dairy farms off shore. To do this they have gone into hock to the banks, and now the banks are calling in the loans. There is a saying in New Zealand that they cannot uplift the land and take it off-shore, but that, figuratively speaking, is the only option left. The dairy farms must go into foreign ownership. They will go offshore. And the reason why is simple. Dairy farmers have been no smarter than the rest of us. They spent up large, they went into debt, and now the day of reckoning is upon them.

    Key has employed unremarkable political rhetoric – such as “New Zealanders should not be tenants in their own lands” in his statements of public opposition to the Crafar farms deal. Yet Key knows, as we all do, that the majority of New Zealanders are already tenants in their own land in one way or another. An increasing number of us are residential tenants, many are sharemilkers, or work for wages in factories, farms and forests owned by others. It is all rather redolent of the John Roughan’s infamous piece in the New Zealand Herald, in which he argued that his forefathers did not come to New Zealand to become “tenants” to Maori landlords. Quite. To be fair to them, they may have aspired to be nothing more nor less than freeholders. Yet many of Roughan’s ilk have ended up being landlords themselves, which seems to cause Roughan no great sense of unease. If the tenant/landlord relationship is an undesirable one (and I tend to agree that it is) then that should apply regardless of whether a “New Zealander” or a “foreigner” is the landlord, and regardless of whether a Pakeha or a Maori is the tenant. But John Key clearly does not intend us to go that far. His intention is to appease local sentiment, and to persuade people like the Crafars (though not the Crafars in particular) that their positions of wealth and privilege will not be abruptly handed over to “foreigners”. The ordinary farm workers, farm managers and sharemilkers are already “tenants” of a sort, and it makes no difference in principle to them whether their farms are owned by the likes of the Crafars or Natural Foods. In fact for many Chinese owners might be the prefered option.

    In the final act of this political farce, the Australian-owned mass media networks have weighed in, arguing, as they must, for no restrictions on foreign ownership at all. For the moment they can live with a Chinese presence, or even Chinese dominance, in the dairy industry. The important thing, from their point of view, is to uphold the principle of foreign ownership. They don’t want to go down a track which would force them to accept the legitimacy of Fiji’s laws against foreign control of the media. They probably believe that over the long run Australia will remain the dominant force in the New Zealand economy and the most important influence over New Zealand foreign policy. That may be where it ends. John Key’s concerns will be short lived. The Green Party policy will gain no traction in parliament, and little with the public. Foreign control will continue apace, and the tide will not turn until the regime faces a radical challenge to the rules of property established by the New Zealand Company and the colonial power from 1840 onwards. It will not be a case of preventing foreigners from owning New Zealand farms. It will be a case of preventing people like the Crafars from ever getting in the position where, driven by greed and enabled by the banks, they are able to acquire, and then lose, control over such vast tracts of New Zealand farmland.

  55. You wouldn’t call it a linear progression rather an upward leap under the switch to a market economy

    Quite untrue JH. Much of the improvements in life expectancy (doubled) and literacy came during the Mao period, not after.

  56. There are so many candidates for the award of top monster that we can’t decide between them. Whether it’s Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong or Iosif Stalin is, quite frankly, anybody’s guess.

    Mao Zedong, far from being a ‘monster’ is considered by most Chinese to be their greatest leader. In time he will go down as one of the greatest emancipators in human history.

  57. ”As for your argument about the Chinese government not showing aggression against other countries; I could cite the invasion of Tibet in 1959; the 500 missiles pointed at Taiwan; the conflicts with the Soviets in the late 1960s; the annexation of outer Mongolia; the support for the autocratic and repressive regimes of North Korea and Burma against their own people; the attacks on Vietnam in 1979; the rhetoric over the Spartly Islands; the 2 wars against India; the territorial claims against almost everyone of its neighbours…etc “
    None of these examples involved aggression on the part of the Chinese. Let’s go through them one by one.
    Tibet: Tibet has long been recognized as a part of China. China’s claim to Tibet is in fact much more legitimate than US rule over California, Texas, and New Mexico. In fact China’s claim is justified by events that happened way before even the first white man set foot in the Americas.
    This is not a party specific position. All Chinese leaders, communist and non-communist have held that Tibet is part of China, whether we are talking of Sun Yatsen, Chiang Kaishek, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Hu Jintao, or Ma Yingjeou.
    The United States in 1942, in a memorandum to the KMT government of the time (well before the so called ‘invasion’ of 1950) explicitly recognized China’s right to Tibet and that in fact is the position now of all nations in the world, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK included.
    Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: “Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China.”
    Because Tibet is a part of China, recognized as such by every nation in the world, China’s actions in Tibet cannot be viewed as country to country aggression, but simply as a re-establishment of central control.
    Taiwan: the Taiwanese situation is completely the internal affairs of China. All nations recognize that Taiwan is part of China, as does the Taiwanese government today. That is why the Taiwanese insist on calling themselves the ‘Republic of China’, and the flag they use was the pre-PRC flag of China. Taiwan is part of China in the same way that both East and West Germany were part of ‘Germany.’ When the time is right reunification will happen. However there are some subversive element s on Taiwan who are a minority of the population and want to stir up trouble saying that Taiwan is not part of China, but instead is just Taiwan and should be independent. This of course is not the view of the current Taiwanese government.
    So China has those missiles in place to dissuade this ‘independence’ movement from their dirty tricks. And China is entirely within their rights to do this, just as Lincoln was within his rights to go to war against the South to preserve the Union.
    Relations in recent years between the PRC and Taiwan have dramatically improved in recent years, and just a few weeks ago a major trade deal was signed. Eventually those weapons the US sells to Taiwan, could well be turned against the US, as the Taiwanese seeing things getting better and better, economically and politically, on the mainland, inevitably draw closer to their compatriots across the Taiwan strait.
    Conflicts with the Soviets in the late 1960s: those conflicts were over the lost territories in the North East, stolen from China in the 19th Century. Large parts of the Russian Far East were stolen from China under the terms of unequal Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Peking in 1860.
    The worst of these encounters was the battle over Zhenbao Island in 1969. China’s claim was just. So just in fact that in 1991, the two sides came to an agreement that Zhenbao Island was part of the territory of the PRC, and today Zhenbao Island is part of the PRC.
    Annexation of Outer Mongolia: huh?????????????????????? The PRC has conceded the loss of outer Mongolia – which happened well well before the establishment of the PRC. Interestingly, and perhaps rightly, the Taiwanese government has not, and claim not only Tibet as part of China, but also all of Outer Mongolia.
    The support for the autocratic and repressive regimes of North Korea and Burma: The situation is far more complex than a simpleton like you would be able to perceive, however even if China’s support for these regimes is wrong, China is no worse than the US who supported Saddam Hussein, apartheid South Africa, General Pinochet, and South Vietnam.
    The rhetoric over the Spartly Islands: this is a dispute. Many countries have a claim. And I suppose you could say all countries who claim are indulging in ‘rhetoric.’
    Sino-Indian War: over a two disputed areas along their common border. The border was a British construct (the McMahon Line) forced upon the Tibetan local authorties in 1914 by the British, without the Chinese government of the time (Republic of China) being a party to the treaty. As such the line should have no legal authority.
    There are two major disputed territories. China occupies one, India the other. The war between India and China in 1962 was really a minor border conflict – started when Indian troops cheekily pushed North of the McMahon line to test Chinese resolve. The Chinese responded by thrashing the Indians, and then unilaterally declared a ceasefire and withdrew from the disputed area.

  58. ”Furthermore, like a good many other recent Chinese immigrants to NZ you seem to conflate criticism of Chinese government policy with criticism of China itself or of the Chinese people.”
    First of all I am not a recent immigrant. My grandfather was here a over 70 years ago and experienced the Napier earthquake, and I was born here.
    The Chinese reaction to foreign criticism of their government is quite reasonable, and they are entirely correct to take it as an attack on China and the Chinese people – precisely because the attacks are it from without, not from within.
    If groups of people in China were running round protesting against New Zealand government policy on say, the seabed and foreshore, demanding reports from John Key on child abuse and crime in New Zealand – most New Zealanders, regardless of political proclivities, would be outraged and view this as an attack on New Zealand, not just the National Party.
    Furthermore the outrage would be even louder if the Chinese were found to be giving support to and meeting with leaders of Maori sovereignty groups like Tame Ite and co.
    And if the Chinese were demanding that New Zealand surrender ¼ of the North Island, say, to only people of indigenous descent, you would probably have Chinese in NZ being lynched.
    The fact is Western countries have no right to make demands of the Chinese in respect to China’s internal affairs, anymore than China has the right to make demands on New Zealanders in respect to the seabed and foreshore, or the supercity council or traffic congestion on the southern motorway.
    And given the sordid history of the West in China, the West would do well to shut the #$@# up, lest the Chinese come back at them with what would be well justified demands for compensation for 100 years of plunder and destruction.

  59. ”You cannot blame capitalism for the situation in India during that period, anymore than you celebrate communism for the ‘gaige’ reforms in China post-Mao.”
    But one can point out that the record of the communist party in ruling China from 1949 to the present is far superior to the record of the Indian so called ‘democracy.’
    India has been so called ‘democratic’ for 60 years. China has been ruled by the communist party for 60 years. Which of these two countries has seen the greatest improvement in the lives of their respective populations? The answer is quite obvious. China – very significantly. Note also that even at the time of Mao’s death, China’s life expectancy had doubled and was then in 1976 higher than what India’s is today. During Mao’s period literacy rates were also vastly improved, and were as high as 80% by the time of his death. Now China’s literacy rate is 90% compared with India’s 50 to 50%.
    http://tinyurl.com/2f9t2nz
    ”Your fundamental mistake as I see it that you fail to realise that the communist leadership of the PRC in 2010 are not the communist revolutionaries of 1949, and cannot claim credit for their successes; anymore than can the NZ National Party of 2010 claim any credit for the actions of the National government of 1951 for example.”
    It is not a ‘fundamental mistake’ at all. It entirely depends on one’s level of analysis. It is quite valid to evaluate the record of the communist party as a whole, just as it would be to evaluate the history and contributions to New Zealand of the National Party as a whole. The fact that individuals within the National party should not take credit for things done by other party individuals 50 years ago is another matter entirely, and is at a different level of analysis.
    On a higher level of analysis one could evaluate the success of the American democracy, or the New Zealand democracy, and on an even higher level, analyze and pass a verdict on say the communist movement as a whole, or the bourgeois democracy as a whole.
    If a football team plays with one set of tactics in the first half of the game, finds that they are not getting the results required, changes tactics at half time and then wins the game in the end, that team gets the credit for winning, regardless of the change in tactics.
    Obviously at a lower level of analysis, looking from a team managers point of view, he may well come to the conclusion that the first half performance was ppor, and the switch in tactics for the second half was the correct one. But the team as a whole is successful.

  60. “Oh, and BTW, a good many of the “wealthy landlords” and “capitalist roaders” were “physically” eliminated by the revolutionaries.”
    This occurred during the first three years of the establishment of the PRC, when much of the country was still not under the direct control of communist troops.
    It was never a policy to target counterrevolutionaries for extermination (unlike how the Nazis targeted Jews for extermination) but rather revolutionary terror was used against those elements who continued to resist and had incurred blood debts against the oppressed peasantry. All this took place of course against a backdrop of internal subversion, external wars (Korean war) which brought US troops right up to China’s border, and US sponsored attacks on the mainland from KMT commandos . At the time the communists had good reason to fear that their revolution would be rolled back and the US would restore Chiang Kaishek.
    As one prominent writer has said, the choice was not between revolutionary terror and no terror. The choice was between revolutionary terror and counter-revolutionary terror. And from the experience of the Russian Civil War, ‘white’ terror was even more atrocious, and especially non-discriminatory than ‘red ‘ terror (Marshal Kornilov of the white armies at the time was willing to kill ¾ of Russia’s population beat the Bolsheviks).
    If Chiang Kaishek’s reactionary elements had won, there would have been even worse massacres, the indiscriminate killings of men, women, and children (as had been the case when his forces had overrun communist bases in South China in the mid-1930s). At least the communist killings were targeted at people accused of actual crimes (although in many cases excesses did occur and the local populations took the law into their own hands), and never indulged in the wanton, indiscriminate, and gratuitous massacre of women and children.

  61. To jingyang:
    ”Be that as it may, like the Soviet revolution before it, it was soon betrayed by the top leadership…unless you think that having the “little prince” offspring of the 1949 revolutionaries in unelected and basically unassailable and above the law positions of power in 2010 means that China is “more free” now than September 1949?”
    Well certainly I would agree with some of what you say here. In fact the Cultural Revolution, in spite of its many excesses, was a bottom up movement encouraged by Mao to prevent exactly what has happened in China since his death – the restoration of capitalism, and the creation of a privileged, corrupt, and nepotistic bureaucratic class.
    Nevertheless in spite of the many bad things that resulted from China’s change in direction since Mao’s death, it is indisputable that China has done an incredible job, and indeed continues to do so today, in raising the living standards of hundreds of millions of people at a rate unprecedented in all of human history. Corruption, nepotism, and cronyism is something that is found in all developing countries (not just authoritarian ones like China), and while highly undesirable, cannot take away from the overall picture of an ascendant China on the world stage, and the accompanying betterment of a great many people in China.
    Encouragingly there is some movement to restore benefits which after Mao were done away with – one is a massive reform of the health care system which hopes to provide universal health care to all of China’s citizens by 2020.
    http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/aug2009/gb20090821_005732.htmm of the health-care sector
    A for your comparing China now with 1949 – that is utterly ludicrous. China before the establishment of the PRC was a medieval place in a state more or less similar to what we see in Somalia today. Foreign imperialists had the run of the place, and it was a cesspool of poverty, oppression, drug addiction, a life expectancy of just 32, and appallingly low levels of literacy. It was a basket case and going absolutely nowhere. The communists united the country, carried out land reform (which was the essential basis for modern industrial development), and now just 60 years later China is on the cusp of displacing the United States as the pre-eminent superpower in the world.
    If one had the choice of being born either in pre-revolutionary China, or China today, only a fool would choose pre-revolutionary China.
    ”There is still a parasticial class in the PRC – it is called the communist party.”
    There are many problems with corruption and cronyism, as I have mentioned above. But these problems are no more severe, in fact a good deal less so than countries like Russia, India, and Brazil (the other ‘BRIC’ countries – all of which are not ruled by a communist party and have elections to select the government). China is strengthening the rule of law daily and with these improvements, along with rising prosperity, and a bigger and bigger middle class China will overcome these problems.
    China has had only 30 years of capitalist development. When the US was at a similar stage of industrial and economic development (the so-called ‘Gilded age’ period in US history) the US had exactly the same sorts of problems that China has today ala the ‘robber barons’, the massive corruption of the Grant administration, and even of course widespread food adulteration, as uncovered by ‘muckraker’ writers such as Upton Sinclair.

  62. “Without the communists China would be like India – where life expectancy, literacy, infant malnutrition, access to technology, and on a whole host of other social indices, India lags significantly behind China. On economic indicators China also vastly outperforms India – in the case of per capital GDP, India with just $1016 compared to $6,100 for China.”

    You wouldn’t call it a linear progression rather an upward leap under the switch to a market economy.

  63. Question: Who was the Bloodiest Tyrant of the 20th Century?
    Answer: We don’t know.

    That’s probably the saddest fact of the Twentieth Century. There are so many candidates for the award of top monster that we can’t decide between them. Whether it’s Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong or Iosif Stalin is, quite frankly, anybody’s guess.
    http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/tyrants.htm

  64. The key thing from my point of view – what I would have thought is an undeniable reality – is that China’s record is no worse than that of the UK, the US, or New Zealand for that matter.

    That was never in question as far as I’m concerned.

    Let New Zealand do away with its imperial associations (and please no more pleading that these associations should be allowable on the grounds that they are “part of our history”). Then anyone who has a mind to can start pointing the finger at the PRC.

    Why not talk about the Parliamentary oath when that’s what you mean? It would be stupid not to engage with any international issues until we got rid of that. We can work on both at the same time.

    As a parliamentarian Russel presumably has the opportunity to work towards putting an end to the crimes committed by New Zealand forces against the rights and freedom of other peoples. I suggest that is where his efforts should be concentrated.

    He, and the Green Party more generally, does this all the time. You just like to ignore it.

  65. The people in this case being New Zealanders. And a constitution is not a panacea, as the experience of the US shows.

  66. A republic will have a constitution, which will enshrine the rights of the people. Having said that, in the final analysis the only guarantee of freedom and justice is in the spirit and courage of the people.

  67. While I personally do not sympathize with the leadership of the PRC, I believe that Zhumao has brought some balance to the discussion here, and, more importantly, some historical perspective.

    The key thing from my point of view – what I would have thought is an undeniable reality – is that China’s record is no worse than that of the UK, the US, or New Zealand for that matter. Let New Zealand do away with its imperial associations (and please no more pleading that these associations should be allowable on the grounds that they are “part of our history”). Then anyone who has a mind to can start pointing the finger at the PRC.

    As a parliamentarian Russel presumably has the opportunity to work towards putting an end to the crimes committed by New Zealand forces against the rights and freedom of other peoples. I suggest that is where his efforts should be concentrated.

  68. I am not hugely concerned about foreign ownership, because I believe that in the fullness of time it will help to bring about the downfall of the colonial regime.

    We’ll just as likely be a republic before that happens.

    But the colonial regime is a problem.

    Of course becoming a republic won’t change any of the things you describe, which would have ocured anyway.

    So I do not see all foreigners as a threat, and I am not persuaded that we can safely leave power in the hands of those who choose to call themselves “New Zealanders”

    If not NZers then who?

  69. Gosh zhumao, you criticise some posters here for their understanding of Chinese history, at the same time as you regurgitate the pro-Communist rhetoric you have no doubt imbibbed since kindergarten. Where shall I begin:
    “The Chinese revolution was a true peoples revolution – possibly the most popularly supported in history.” Be that as it may, like the Soviet revolution before it, it was soon betrayed by the top leadership…unless you think that having the “little prince” offspring of the 1949 revolutionaries in unelected and basically unassailable and above the law positions of power in 2010 means that China is “more free” now than September 1949?

    “Land reform, wealth redistribution, the elimination of a parasitical class (not physically, but as a class)?” See above: the Communist revolution has run its course. There is still a parasticial class in the PRC – it is called the communist party. China has merely replaced one form of oligarchy (empire) with another (communism). Oh, and BTW, a good many of the “wealthy landlords” and “capitalist roaders” were “physically” eliminated by the revolutionaries.

    “Without the communists China would be like India” – you show a lack of understanding of both Indian and Chinese history here. Post-independence India until the mid 1980s was largely socialist and non-aligned. You cannot blame capitalism for the situation in India during that period, anymore than you celebrate communism for the ‘gaige’ reforms in China post-Mao. The simple fact is, that Communists cannot claim that communism produced the wealth that China now has in 2010 after 30 years of largely capitalist informed reforms.

    Your fundamental mistake as I see it that you fail to realise that the communist leadership of the PRC in 2010 are not the communist revolutionaries of 1949, and cannot claim credit for their successes; anymore than can the NZ National Party of 2010 claim any credit for the actions of the National government of 1951 for example.

    The “glorious communist revolutionaries” of 1921-1949 (or at a stretch 1966) have given way to the autocratic intolerant nationalistic fat cats of 2010.

    Furthermore, like a good many other recent Chinese immigrants to NZ you seem to conflate criticism of Chinese government policy with criticism of China itself or of the Chinese people. This is naturally the kind of thinking that the communist government likes because it precludes people from actually carefully evaluating criticism of the party.

    Unless of course I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you wish to be able to return to China so are therefore avoiding open criticsm of the Chinese government. Afterall, that is the reason that I post here anonymously. Got to be careful of those Chinese government informers on campus don’t we?

    As for your argument about the Chinese government not showing aggression against other countries; I could cite the invasion of Tibet in 1959; the 500 missiles pointed at Taiwan; the conflicts with the Soviets in the late 1960s; the annexation of outer Mongolia; the support for the autocratic and repressive regimes of North Korea and Burma against their own people; the attacks on Vietnam in 1979; the rhetoric over the Spartly Islands; the 2 wars against India; the territorial claims against almost everyone of its neighbours…etc etc.

  70. It was believed that they used dirty tricks to foment revolt amongst poor peasants and for the rest you just have to look at that communist museum piece (North Korea) today.

    The Chinese revolution was a true peoples revolution – possibly the most popularly supported in history. These ‘dirty tricks’ you refer to? What are they? Land reform, wealth redistribution, the elimination of a parasitical class (not physically, but as a class)? All these measures were necessary to lay the foundations of the rise of China from a complete basketcase in 1949(like Somalia today), to the burgeoning superpower that we see today – in just 60 years!

    Without the communists China would be like India – where life expectancy, literacy, infant malnutrition, access to technology, and on a whole host of other social indices, India lags significantly behind China. On economic indicators China also vastly outperforms India – in the case of per capital GDP, India with just $1016 compared to $6,100 for China.

  71. There is a difference between a human engineered famine (as we saw in the Ukraine in 1932 and in the People’s Republic in 1958-60) and a decrease in live expectancy…….

    So Mao deliberately ‘engineered’ a famine. What a load of bollocks. The GLF famine was a result of natural disasters (massive flooding), an international embargo of China, and economic mismanagement.

    Mao wanted the GLF to succeed (obviously) not fail as it did. Even his worst detractors do not accuse him of deliberately causing the deaths.

  72. “the West aided the Republic of China against the Japanese Empire during the Second World War.”

    Yeah …so I suppose the Chinese who were openly invaded in 1931, and made the greatest sacrifices in the struggle against the Japanese did not contribute to this struggle???? Why is it that the West is considered to ‘aid’ China in this struggle, but not the Chinese ‘aiding’ the West?

    And as I pointed out above, the West was complicit in much of the earlier Japanese aggression against China.

  73. “In terms of Western aggression, that well and truly ended with the end of the Chinese Empire – I am not aware of any aggression from the nations of the West after the establishment of the Republic of China”

    Well if maintaining colonial control over a place is not an act of ‘aggression’ I don’t know what is.

    At Versaille the British and Americans decided to hand over German owned parts of China in Shandong to the Japanese as war booty. That to my mind is a major act of ‘aggression’ even if not through direct military invasion. This of course incensed the Chinese so much that they developed a rightful contempt for bourgeois ‘democracy’ and instead turned to the Soviet Union for inspiration.

    The British had extraterritoriality in China for up to a century. This means they were not subject to Chinese laws when in China, and that they could basically kill Chinese with impunity (right up until 1943). And this happened during the Wahnsien incident (1926) when her ships shelled a Chinese town killing three thousand Chinese (more than Sep 11). The British newspapers in Shanghai cheered the massacre.

    In Shanghai parks the British had signs – “No Dogs or Chinese allowed”

    British police in Shanghai opened fire on demonstrators (1925), killing 12 and wounding many more. A few weeks later, Anglo-French military forces shot and killed anti-British 52 protestors in Shanghai.

    Extraterritoriality – the right of Westerners to be completely immune from Chinese laws was not abolished until 1943.

    Britain had complete control of the Chinese customs service up until 1943.

    British gunboats, under the terms included in various unequal treaties, patrolled the Yangtze right up until 1949. The last British gunboat in Chinese waters (at least without the permission of the Chinese people), was HMS Amethyst – sent packing home by the Peoples Liberation Army.

    Foreign troops of course would regularly shoot up Chinese civilians – here is just a couple of incidents:

    Western colonial control over China only ended with the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.

    The wealth of the West was built on the bones of Chinese, Indians, and Africans. For over a hundred years, the wealth of China was drained from her by the British, Americans, French, and other Western powers.

    Before the West apologises for these atrocities (in the way the Germans have to the Jewish people), and before compensation is made to China by Britain, France, and others for the wealth stolen from her, no Western country has any moral right whatsoever to speak of ‘human rights’ or ‘democracy.’

    The above just a small subset of the humiliations Britain inflicted on China between 1911 and 1949.

  74. I was around at that time and I can remember the thinking and tactics used by communists to take control. It was believed that they used dirty tricks to foment revolt amongst poor peasants and for the rest you just have to look at that communist museum piece (North Korea) today.

  75. I am not hugely concerned about foreign ownership, because I believe that in the fullness of time it will help to bring about the downfall of the colonial regime.

    In the meantime foreign owners are not a particular problem for us. As a rule (there are exceptions) they allow us the right to cross their land, and in some cases they actively assist us along our way.

    But the colonial regime is a problem. I own half an acre of land at Te Ngae. Last year the regime, in the guise of the Rotorua Regional Airport Limited, claimed the right to remove without compensation trees which had been on my land since long before the building of the airport. They made the same attempt against Ngati Uenukukopako at the northern end of the runway. We resisted, successfully, and our property rights were eventually upheld in a decision of the regime’s own Courts.

    The people who tried to do deprive us of our property were not “foreigners” by the normal definition. They were New Zealand citizens, born and bred. Russel Norman and Catherine Delahunty did not offer us any kind of support or encouragement. Many so-called “foreigners” did. So I do not see all foreigners as a threat, and I am not persuaded that we can safely leave power in the hands of those who choose to call themselves “New Zealanders”

  76. “In terms of Vietnam, while the Americans were the instigators, they were there for good reason.”

    Perhaps ‘good reasons’ as far as the Americans were concerned – if for ‘good reasons’ we read ‘American self-interests.’

    The Americans in the late 1950s seeing that the planned nationwide elections (covering both North and South Vietnam) would have seen Ho Chiminh swept in with an overwhelming majority and the place united under him, cancelled the elections and the North Vietnamese were left with no choice but the armed struggle in order to unite their nation – something that they had fought for non-stop for decades.
    As a sidebar it was the communist Vietminh who staunchly resisted the Japanese invaders. At the cessation of hostilities in WWII, British troops in parts of Vietnam rearmed Japanese prisoners and used them to suppress Vietminh units at the behest of the French – who wanted to restore imperial rule.

    The US was guilty of major war crimes in Vietnam – indiscriminate bombing caused the deaths of abotu 2 million Vietnamese civilians, and the effects of Agent Orange are well known to all here. There are of course the numerous civilian massacres carried out by US troops, the infamous My Lai massacre just the tip of the iceberg.

  77. “Zhumao, the Korean War was instigated by the Communist North Koreans, almost certainly under pressure from Stalin. South Korea was almost annihilated in the opening months of the war, and basically the Americans and the United Nations intervened to protect South Korea.”

    You should note that China only intervened in the conflict well after Western troops had already retaken South Korean and were almost up to the Yalu River which separates North Korea from China.
    China intervened only after numerous warnings to the US to halt their advance through North Korea. China had no choice to intervene because there was no way she would have US troops right up against her border threatening the survival of the Chinese revolution.

    In a broader sense, North Korea cannot really ‘invade’ South Korea. Both states are part of Korea and as such the conflict between the two Koreas should be seen as a civil war. So really, regardless of your feelings about the North Korean regime, they were not guilty of military aggression anymore than Union troops were guilty of aggression towards the so-called ‘confederate states of america’ during the civil war.

    “Zhumao, you have evidently not heard about the Boxer Rebellion where the Chinese Empire acted aggressively against the nations of the West.”

    Your moral perspective is seriously warped. You might as well say the French Resistance behaved ‘aggressively’ towards the Germans, as did the Soviet Red Army –I suppose they should have just laid down and surrendered to foreign invasion eh? And those Czech resistance fighters who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich were terrorists right?

    The Boxer Rebellion was of course a just response to 60 years of foreign invasions by Western powers, Britain at the head of the pack.

    There were of course excesses, but really any Westerner in China at the time, as representatives of their respective hostile occupying powers were fair game, as far as I’m concerned.

  78. A travesty of democracy?

    Those “like” and “don’t like” icons attached to every comment on frogblog seem harmless enough. They provide a means for people to express their approval without resorting to an inane message of the sort that says “I absolutely agree with this comment”, or to make their disapproval felt without resorting to gratuitous abuse along the lines of “This is absolute rubbish!”.

    They also serve as a kind of “secret ballot” according to which the anonymous masses can express their verdicts on the strength of which the writers and polemicists can either take courage, or alter their approach to find greater public favour.

    On the face of it then, these little emoticons are the very model of a modern democracy. They are an adaptation of the “democratic” methods employed by newspapers, radio and television stations to represent “the voice of the people” – for example “man in the street” interviews (where the subjects are selected precisely because they are assumed not to be expert in the top of discussion), and “listener polls” where subjects select themselves to pass judgement on a matter in which they may, or may not, have knowledge and understanding.

    There are two problems with this kind of “democracy in action”. One is that voting does nothing to advance our understanding of any issue. It normally represents the point at which there is a consensus of opinion that further debate and discussion is unnecessary. Another is that voting encourages people to commit to a preconceived opinion, and then, hopefully, to prevail over the opposition by sheer force of numbers. And yet a third is that it is so easily manipulated. “Man in the street” interviews are not even what they purport to be – an objective representation of public opinion. They are the result of a process of selection which is non-random, followed by editorial cutting which is anything but random. “Listener polls” which draw from a particular audience, and which often involve a charge for the right to vote, are notoriously biassed. Vested interest groups usually have no difficulty in rallying their numbers to determine the outcome of such polls, which makes them worthless as a test of public opinion, and dangerous as a way of shaping that opinion.

    So what about frogblog emoticons? Do they have a constructive role? Or are they just a way of exerting pressure upon commentators to conform? In my opinion, very much the latter. Conformity is not a bad thing if it means conformity to standards of reason, courtesy, and clarity of expression. But because the system is anonymous, it is particularly subject to abuse. A moderator, or censor, can be called to account for his or her decisions according to some explicit and accepted standards. The “emoticons”, on the other hand, enable faceless individuals to act collectively to influence, control and effectively censor the contributions of others without being called to account in any way. That I see as a dangerous travesty of democracy.

    I note that someone has been assiduously giving the “thumbs down” to Zhumao. If “frogblog” runs true to form, this voter will be joined by a couple of mates who routinely give the “thumbs down” to Zhumao. Easier than listening to what he has to say, and then countering his arguments with reason. But we can be encouraged that there appear to be only a handful of frogblog readers who are into this silliness.

  79. In fact the West has little right to be suspicious of China. China’s wars in Korea and Vietnam were just wars (especially the latter case), with the US aggressor being right on China’s doorstep.

    Zhumao, the Korean War was instigated by the Communist North Koreans, almost certainly under pressure from Stalin. South Korea was almost annihilated in the opening months of the war, and basically the Americans and the United Nations intervened to protect South Korea.

    In terms of Vietnam, while the Americans were the instigators, they were there for good reason.

    We have plenty of right to be suspicious of the People’s Republic – they have not fully renounced Communism, and to make matters worse, some of the worst regimes of the world today are only in power because of the People’s Republic (do you really think that Burma and North Korea would be hell-holes if it wasn’t for the People’s Republic?)

    China has never behaved aggressively towards any Western nation. But rather China was the victim of 100 years of Western aggression from 1840 to 1949.

    Zhumao, you have evidently not heard about the Boxer Rebellion where the Chinese Empire acted aggressively against the nations of the West. A rebellion that saw the massacre of hundreds of foreign civilians, including children might I add. In terms of Western aggression, that well and truly ended with the end of the Chinese Empire – I am not aware of any aggression from the nations of the West after the establishment of the Republic of China and indeed, the West aided the Republic of China against the Japanese Empire during the Second World War.

    Given the history between the West and China, the West has absolutely no moral authority to demand that China renounce ‘communism’ or demand from China anything in terms of ‘human rights’ or ‘tibet’ etc.

    We have a lot of moral authority to demand the renouncement of Communism – Communism goes against the principles of freedom that not only we in the West hold dear, but also many millions all throughout the world. Communism is still a threat, we cannot forget that for nearly fifty years, the Soviets and the Americans were facing off against each other, ready to blow the other nation to kingdom come. We cannot forget Lenin’s infamous comment that the last capitalist would sell the noose that he is to be hanged with. We cannot forget that Communists have killed people, in some instances, for merely wearing glasses or having one chicken more than their neighbour.

    The years of the Great Leap Forward 1959-61 were tragic years where this progress was stalled and death rates slipped back to pre-revolutionary levels. But the numbers of excess deaths of this period are nowhere near the numbers bandied about by Jung Chang, Jasper Becker and others of their ilk.

    And what about the millions who died during the Cultural Revolution? Even the official death toll of the “Great Leap Forward” is an eye watering fourteen million, and I suspect that is a gross underestimation of the real death toll.

    There were no mass murders by Mao. Excess deaths because of mistaken policies are not the moral equivalent of genocide, where people are deliberately targeted for slaughter. If that was the case, one could say that Yeltsin is also a genocidal monster because of the dramatic increase in death rates, and precipitous drop in life expectancy Russia experienced in the decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Zhumao, we include the millions of famine deaths in the Ukraine when we discuss the murders committed by Stalin, and similarly, we need to include the famine deaths when we discuss the murders committed by Mao. There is a difference between a human engineered famine (as we saw in the Ukraine in 1932 and in the People’s Republic in 1958-60) and a decrease in live expectancy brought about by a skyrocketing crime rate and alcoholism (as we have seen in Russia).

  80. “John Key cannot send China a different message to that which he is sending to other friends and allies.”

    Why not? Not that I’m in favour of selling off land to the Australians, Americans, Brits or whoever, but at least these countries have some semblance of a free press and sort of democratic governments. Chinese ownership means we will not only lose control of assets, but also lose the ability to be informed of the activities of those who own our assets.

    “The mere suggestion will be offensive to China, and indeed to those of us who believe that we should not discriminate on the basis of race.”

    Don’t be daft, there’s no suggestion of discrimination on the basis of race – there’s discrimination on the basis of citizenship or nationality perhaps, which applies to many government policies.

  81. In fact Raymond’s position that Tibet is a wholly legitimate part of China is hardly a radical notion. Afterall it is the position of the New Zealand government, the Labour Party, the Australian and US governments and in fact all nations of the world, Western ones included.

    All Western countries agree with China that Tibet is a wholly legitimate part of China.

    Former UK Foreign Secretary David Milliband: “Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China.”

  82. “if Raymond showed the same commitment to the interests of the Peoples Republic as his colleagues do to the United Kingdom, then he would be pilloried by the likes of Phil Twyford.”

    You are spot on here. In fact Raymond, to my mind, did absolutely nothing wrong.

    Raymond, as a Chinese from mainland China has a unique perspective (at least probably among most of his parliamentary colleagues) on the Tibetan situation. The Tibetan situation has been in the news recently. This was not the result of Raymond bringing this issue up.

    It was Mr Norman who caused the spotlight to fall on this issue. Just as any other MP Raymond has the right, indeed has a duty, to speak up on what he knows to be the truth.

    Especially when what has been reported in the news media is so one sided in support of the Norman position.

    If Norman’s idiocy had not brought the issue to the forefront, I very much doubt if Raymond would have even raised the Tibet issue.

    In any case, the status of Tibet is not one that directly impacts on New Zealand’s interests. So saying Tibet is legitimately a part of China does not demonstrate hostility or disloyalty towards New Zealand, anymore than, say, supporting the Netherlands over Spain in the World Cup final on Monday morning would.

  83. “The thing that the Chinese really need to understand is that we in the West are still highly suspicious of them – they have not fully renounced Communism, and the memories of the battles that were fought against Communists in Korea, Vietnam and countless other places are still fresh in the minds of many.”

    In fact the West has little right to be suspicious of China. China’s wars in Korea and Vietnam were just wars (especially the latter case), with the US aggressor being right on China’s doorstep.

    Given the one hundred years of humiliation China endured at the hands of the West, under which China was essentially pauperized through a vile narcotics trade forced on her at gunpoint by Britain and other Western powers, China has every reason to fear the West.

    It was not until 1949 that the last British gunboat (the ‘Amethyst’) was sent packing with its tail between its legs from the Yangtze river.

    China has never behaved aggressively towards any Western nation. But rather China was the victim of 100 years of Western aggression from 1840 to 1949.

    Given the history between the West and China, the West has absolutely no moral authority to demand that China renounce ‘communism’ or demand from China anything in terms of ‘human rights’ or ‘tibet’ etc.

    “We cannot forget also that the worst mass murderer in history came from the People’s Republic of China”

    After 1949 the life expectancy of the Chinese people dramatically increased. The years of the Great Leap Forward 1959-61 were tragic years where this progress was stalled and death rates slipped back to pre-revolutionary levels. But the numbers of excess deaths of this period are nowhere near the numbers bandied about by Jung Chang, Jasper Becker and others of their ilk.

    But by the time of Mao’s death in 1976, the life expectancy of the Chinese people was already 65 – almost a doubling of life expectancy during Mao’s time in power (it was 33 in 1949).

    In fact at the time of Mao’s death in 1976, China’s life expectancy of 65 already exceeded that of India’s today (63).

    There were no mass murders by Mao. Excess deaths because of mistaken policies are not the moral equivalent of genocide, where people are deliberately targeted for slaughter. If that was the case, one could say that Yeltsin is also a genocidal monster because of the dramatic increase in death rates, and precipitous drop in life expectancy Russia experienced in the decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  84. First, we need to acknowledge that John Key is not going to tell the Chinese to take their money somewhere else.

    No one thinks he will. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call for it. At this very moment, English is planing how he will water down the Overseas Investment Act even more than it already is. His advisory group includes a corporate lawyer who works for the Hong Kong company that wants to buy the Crafar farms. This is bad on so many levels and needs to be challenged. It is corrupt and would be no matter what country was involved. The sad thing is that Russel is one of the few people speaking out.

    Second, I don’t want to be nit-picking, but Russel’s approach is not “even handed” even though it has some appearance of being such…

    Well at least you’ve dropped the crap about Russel being racist. Would be rude to complain of nitpicking I think given how far you’ve transformed your arguments over just a few days. Well done for that.

    The Chinese are late comers looking for a piece of the action. In these circumstances, the message that Russel sends to China is “We don’t want China to take advantage of our laws to acquire New Zealand assets, as have the US, the UK and Australia before them.”

    Are you seriously saying we can’t object across the board to any country buying NZ assets, but instead should let China catch up with other countries so we appear to be even-handed? That’s what it sounds like and if so it’s pretty bizarre.

    The Chinese response would be “What is different about us? If you don’t like foreign ownership, why not pass laws against all foreign ownership?”

    Yes, any law should apply to all and Russel has not said otherwise. That it may not apply retrospectively to the last 150 years of foreign investment is no reason not to make a positive change now.

    John Key will not be sending a message to Washington or Canberra saying “We don’t want your people to own any part of New Zealand, and by the way the same applies to China” Yet that is what he would have to do if he was to take Russel’s advice, and at the same time be even-handed.

    That’s obvious, but it’s about Key and not Russel. No point in only demanding from Key what you know he will do. Nothing will ever change if we confine ourselves to that.

    We need to look to the fundamental causes of New Zealand’s economic and social problems, and foreign ownership is not one of them.

    That’s very debatable. Is there no limit to the amount of land and other assets you’d be happy to see owned overseas?

  85. First, we need to acknowledge that John Key is not going to tell the Chinese to take their money somewhere else. Nor will any other New Zealand Prime Minister. New Zealand is mainlining on foreign capital – as it has done for nearly two centuries – and with Europe and the US in crisis, China is now the regime’s best hope, perhaps its only hope for survival. Like most New Zealand Prime Ministers before him, Key is a pragmatist. He will appease Chinese sensitivities for exactly the same reason that Russel Norman pledges allegiance to the British monarch – because, in the circumstances it seems the only rational thing to do, the only course of action which allows some hope of political success, or indeed political survival.

    I happen to believe that Key is mistaken, and that China will not be the economic saviour of New Zealand, any more than the UK, the US or Australia can be. But I also acknowledge that nothing I, or Russel Norman, or anyone else can say or do will persuade the regime that it is following a wrong path. Russel’s appeal to Key over foreign ownership is, first and foremost, a waste of time. The regime can survive without Britain, or Australia, or the United States, but it cannot survive without some source of foreign capital. It is this chronic dependence on foreign capital which has maintained and entrenched New Zealand’s colonial status since 1840. If the regime does not receive a ready supply of capital from its traditional friends and allies, it will turn to China. New Zealand governments established under the colonial regime are nothing if not pragmatic. They can transfer their loyalties from Britain, to Australia, the United States or China. But they are intrinsically incapable of charting a course to national independence.

    Second, I don’t want to be nit-picking, but Russel’s approach is not “even handed” even though it has some appearance of being such. New Zealand has laws which allow virtually unrestricted foreign investment and acquisition of productive assets. Australian companies have taken advantage of the absence of restrictions to dominate the banking and retail sectors of the New Zealand economy, plus a large swathe of secondary industry while United States investors have acquired a dominant position in production forestry and vast tracts of high country farms.

    The Chinese are late comers looking for a piece of the action. In these circumstances, the message that Russel sends to China is “We don’t want China to take advantage of our laws to acquire New Zealand assets, as have the US, the UK and Australia before them.” The Chinese response would be “What is different about us? If you don’t like foreign ownership, why not pass laws against all foreign ownership?”

    John Key will not be sending a message to Washington or Canberra saying “We don’t want your people to own any part of New Zealand, and by the way the same applies to China” Yet that is what he would have to do if he was to take Russel’s advice, and at the same time be even-handed.

    Those who have acquired landed wealth in New Zealand over the past centuries – both the state and private individuals – have largely squandered that wealth due to a mixture of greed, incompetence, stupidity,recklessness and laziness. The Crafars are not exceptional – they are an illustration of the rule. Foreign control is a consequence of all that greed and stupidity, and not the cause. We need to look to the fundamental causes of New Zealand’s economic and social problems, and foreign ownership is not one of them.

  86. If Russel asked John Key to tell “the US, UK, Australia and China that our productive land is not for sale” John Key presumably would not oblige, but Russel would at least appear unbiassed and even-handed.

    In the same press release that Geoff quotes from, Russel says:

    New Zealand should not be selling off our best assets to Chinese, American or Australian investors.

    We should in fact take a tip from the Chinese Government itself regarding foreign ownership of land.

    In China foreign companies can only get land use rights not ownership of land as we know it in New Zealand.

    Russel isn’t the one who need worry about not appearing “unbiased and even-handed”.

  87. My sympathies were with Russel when he was attacked by Chinese security in Parliament grounds (see my first post on this topic, in a different thread). But I am concerned that Russel is turning to an anti-Chinese crusade. This is understandable – his feelings and his dignity were injured in the incident at parliament.

    His latest request to John Key to “tell China that our productive land is not for sale” shows him going down a wrong path. The fact is that “our productive land” is for sale to Australians, Americans, British, Japanese and indeed, to this point, to the Chinese. John Key cannot send China a different message to that which he is sending to other friends and allies. The mere suggestion will be offensive to China, and indeed to those of us who believe that we should not discriminate on the basis of race.

    If Russel asked John Key to tell “the US, UK, Australia and China that our productive land is not for sale” John Key presumably would not oblige, but Russel would at least appear unbiassed and even-handed.

    And please don’t tell me that somewhere in the policy platform is a plank which urges a total ban on all foreign sales of productive land. People listen to political rhetoric. They don’t read the fine print in party documents. Politicians know that, and they know the impression they will be creating in the minds of their supporters and their opponents. Russel, in this case, knows that people will get the message “I don’t like or trust China. I don’t want China to have economic control influence in New Zealand”.

    Personally, I do not believe that Russel will be able to maintain his anti-China position for the long term. The Key government, and the New Zealand political establishment generally, are seeking economic salvation from China. I suspect that Russel will eventually be forced to “tone down” his anti-China rhetoric, not by the Chinese government but by pressure from the major parties in the New Zealand Parliament.

    We do not need anti-China rhetoric any more than we need pro-China rhetoric. We need an alternative to the cargo-cult mentality which sees New Zealand’s economic salvation as being dependent upon the grace and favour of highly developed industrial economies across the seas. That is where the Greens should concentrate their efforts.

  88. Others had argued that New Zealand’s historical association with the British crown explains and justifies the Green Party’s approach to the issue of the monarchy.

    Remember, we’re talking here of the decision to take an archaic oath and become an MP, instead of folding up tents as a Parliamentary party. Geoff conflates this into our “approach to the issue of the monarchy” as though there is little more to it.

    I believe one has to be discriminating about which elements of one’s history one adheres to.

    Oh my, we do agree on that!

  89. StephenR:
    I mentioned Russel’s historical association with the white Australia policy in the context of saying that historical associations are no grounds on which to base present policies. Others had argued that New Zealand’s historical association with the British crown explains and justifies the Green Party’s approach to the issue of the monarchy. I believe one has to be discriminating about which elements of one’s history one adheres to.

  90. I’m sure when Dear Leader is hosted by the NZ govt, the Green Party will have something to say about it.

    Valis, Dear Leader is only in power because of the People’s Republic – if it wasn’t for the People’s Republic, something would have happened to Dear Leader a long time ago (likely a US engineered takeover).

  91. I was approached at a social function in April by New Zealanders of Chinese descent who suggested that the Green Party’s opposition to sale of the Crafar farms to Chinese interests might be racially motivated. Why they asked, is there so much concern about the Crafar sale when Australian investors have been able to acquire the majority of New Zealand banks, grocery, hardware and electronics retail chains and New Zealand Steel to name but a few, and American investors have been able to buy huge tracts of the South Island high country and most of New Zealand’s production forests?

    As has been pointed out, the Green Party has been very active regarding foreign ownership of NZ assets. If the US or Oz was buying up farmland, I’m sure the outcry would be just as loud.

    Now we have the Tibet issue again, and the questions are. “Why does the Green Party criticise Chinese presence in Tibet, when New Zealand is implicated in the Anglo-American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan where truly heinous crimes have been committed at Abu Ghraib and Fallujah and all across Afghanistan?

    Again, all things we’ve criticised loudly.

    Why doesn’t Russel Norman set out to embarrass the Prime Minister of New Zealand? Why didn’t he set out to embarrass the President of the United States while on his State Department-funded visit to the US? Why doesn’t he set out to embarrass the Queen of England?”

    Russel tries to embarrass Key every day!. As for the others, when they come up the steps of Parliament, we’ll see what happens.

    These are all valid questions. The Chinese vice-president’s anonymous goons attack Russel Norman because he threatens to embarrass the-leader-who-must-be-shielded-from-the-sight-of-protest.

    Then Russel’s anonymous goons on frogblog attack those who question the actions of the-leader-who-must-be-shielded-from-any-word-of-criticism.

    It is absurd to come on the Green Party blog – that’s the one Greens hang out on in some numbers – and expect to be able to make any absurd claim you want without challenge. Proverbs about heat and kitchens come to mind. People have robust debate here all the time. You have to be able to deal with a counter argument that challenges your logic. This is not the first thread where it has been lacking. I can provide links if needed.

    The irony will not be lost on some of us. A politician is a politician is a politician – regardless of whether he represents the Communist Party of the Peoples Republic of China, or the Green Party of New Zealand. And until Russel gives satisfactory answers to these questions, I will have to agree with some of my Chinese whanau that he is indeed a “white Australia” closet racist.

    You’re welcome to agree with what every you want, but you need some good arguments to convince people Russel=Chinese politician. All you’re doing at present is jumping up and down and shouting it louder each time. No wonder you’re frustrated.

    The fact is that there is a perception within the Chinese community in New Zealand that the Green Party is anti-China and even anti-Chinese.

    I hope jh is listening, he thinks we’re pro-Chinese. But that is a mere assertion on your part anyway. And even if it were the case, that would not make it true. It is no more true than those that say we’re anti-American because we abhor their terrible foreign policy.

    Obviously an anti-China bias is not written up as official party policy. But it is impressed upon the public consciousness by anti-China political rhetoric. The Green Party is seen as being soft on British and US imperialism, and tough on China.

    This just doesn’t fit with reality, Geoff. Not in the least.

    I have made some suggestions as to what the Greens might do to appear more even-handed, and less racially biassed, and I have received abuse for my troubles.

    You call us “goons”, while claiming to be abused. That sums up well why your arguments are ineffective.

  92. I’m sure when Dear Leader is hosted by the NZ govt, the Green Party will have something to say about it. Until then, even if we did shout, it wouldn’t even be covered and you wouldn’t know it was happening. That doesn’t mean we support NK, it means we try not to waste our time yelling into a vacuum.

  93. The one thing all agree on is that NK is hopeless.

    So? Given that North Korea is probably the worst abuser of human rights in the world, it might pay to criticise them from time to time. Instead of yelling out “Freedom for the people of Tibet”, it might pay to yell out “Freedom for the people of North Korea” from time to time. After all, the only reason why North Korea is allowed to get away with what it does is because the People’s Republic back them.

  94. The one thing all agree on is that NK is hopeless. There’s no reason for the Green Party to proactively comment further. I agree re the US though. They’re the ones with troops everywhere after all – their foreign policy is so easy to criticise. China’s buying the world instead of conquering it is a newer threat that people are only starting to come to grips with.

  95. Geoff, if you bothered to look back through http://www.greens.org.nz/foreignaffairs you would find the Greens have been very vocal on those issues too.

    And what about North Korea? I haven’t heard so much as a peep from the Greens on North Korea.

    The Green Party is seen as being soft on British and US imperialism, and tough on China.

    Not really; the average individual would probably think of the Greens as being anti-American as much as they are anti-Chinese, if not more so. The thing that the Chinese really need to understand is that we in the West are still highly suspicious of them – they have not fully renounced Communism, and the memories of the battles that were fought against Communists in Korea, Vietnam and countless other places are still fresh in the minds of many. We cannot forget also that the worst mass murderer in history came from the People’s Republic of China, with the second worst mass murderer in history also coming from a Communist state.

  96. anyone purchasing goods from Taiwan is supporting a two China policy – this includes most of the world – ergo – there is China, Taiwan and Tibet!

  97. The fact is that there is a perception within the Chinese community in New Zealand that the Green Party is anti-China and even anti-Chinese. Obviously an anti-China bias is not written up as official party policy. But it is impressed upon the public consciousness by anti-China political rhetoric. The Green Party is seen as being soft on British and US imperialism, and tough on China.

    I can see how that perception has arisen, and I can see the inconsistency in the ways that the Green Party approaches the issues of Anglo-American imperialism and Chinese imperialism. I have made some suggestions as to what the Greens might do to appear more even-handed, and less racially biassed, and I have received abuse for my troubles. The ball is now in the Green Party court.

  98. I didn’t think this would end up being more than a slightly interesting bit of blog-commenting-exercise and I was right. Geoff seems to be drawing many long bows here and I think in summation i’ll (somewhat lazily) agree with BJ’s first paragraph above.

    As an Australian Russel Norman has a historical association with the anti-Chinese “white Australia” policy.

    Wee!

  99. …when New Zealand is implicated in the Anglo-American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan where truly heinous crimes have been committed at Abu Ghraib and Fallujah and all across Afghanistan?

    Geoff, if you bothered to look back through http://www.greens.org.nz/foreignaffairs you would find the Greens have been very vocal on those issues too.

  100. I was approached at a social function in April by New Zealanders of Chinese descent who suggested that the Green Party’s opposition to sale of the Crafar farms to Chinese interests might be racially motivated. Why they asked, is there so much concern about the Crafar sale when Australian investors have been able to acquire the majority of New Zealand banks, grocery, hardware and electronics retail chains and New Zealand Steel to name but a few, and American investors have been able to buy huge tracts of the South Island high country and most of New Zealand’s production forests?

    Now we have the Tibet issue again, and the questions are. “Why does the Green Party criticise Chinese presence in Tibet, when New Zealand is implicated in the Anglo-American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan where truly heinous crimes have been committed at Abu Ghraib and Fallujah and all across Afghanistan? Why doesn’t Russel Norman set out to embarrass the Prime Minister of New Zealand? Why didn’t he set out to embarrass the President of the United States while on his State Department-funded visit to the US? Why doesn’t he set out to embarrass the Queen of England?”

    These are all valid questions. The Chinese vice-president’s anonymous goons attack Russel Norman because he threatens to embarrass the-leader-who-must-be-shielded-from-the-sight-of-protest.

    Then Russel’s anonymous goons on frogblog attack those who question the actions of the-leader-who-must-be-shielded-from-any-word-of-criticism.

    The irony will not be lost on some of us. A politician is a politician is a politician – regardless of whether he represents the Communist Party of the Peoples Republic of China, or the Green Party of New Zealand. And until Russel gives satisfactory answers to these questions, I will have to agree with some of my Chinese whanau that he is indeed a “white Australia” closet racist.

  101. Geoff thinks that because HE finds this particular issue intriguing and important, that the rest of the world even notices it as an issue.

    Erudite, but entirely without a lick of common sense on this issue and all debate with him is steered in the same direction.

    What exactly we are “collaborating with” and how it affects our judgment about international policy or national policy (beyond the nature of that oath), is quite difficult to see, and is not in evidence in this thread or in the Green Party.

    BJ

  102. Blogs are public forums of course. You don’t get to choose who engages with you. All you can do is not engage with them – that choice is yours.

    I’m happy for my comments to be compared with yours and people can judge whether either of us is abusive. Our several exchanges are easily searched for. I only comment when I think you’re being outlandish and the Green Party Co-leaders play no part in what I say.

    I haven’t accused you of hypocrisy, because I don’t know if you vote. I asked the question as it seemed logical given where your arguments seem to me to lead. Given that you’ve said such things as…

    I want leaders whose every word can be trusted. Implicitly. Unfortunately I don’t see such any people in the New Zealand parliament.

    and

    I object to the false declaration of allegiance by so-called republican parliamentarians because it is dishonest, cowardly, self-interested and unbecoming to the only sort of republic which would be worthy of our people.

    …concluding you might not vote is not unreasonable. Another possibility is that you only vote for people you trust will then refuse to take the oath and become an MP.

    I think StephenR would see the stupidity of the argument that history provides a justification for the inconsistency between the Green Party attitude to Chinese and British imperialism. As an Australian Russel Norman has a historical association with the anti-Chinese “white Australia” policy. Similar policies were also followed in New Zealand. But “Our history” – which is a racist history – does not provide an excuse for ignoring racial biases in the present. Rather, “our history” makes it all the more important that we address these issues honestly.

    As far as I can tell, Russel rejects both historically racist associations, Australia’s and New Zealand’s. Your argument hinges on whether taking the oath amounts to evidence that he is being insincere about all his other statements rather than that one when he became an MP. I’ve said above why I think it obviously not the case. Some will disagree, of course, but you haven’t given a compelling reason why anyone should, instead choosing to play the man. The ball awaits your attention – if you choose to engage.

    Now what New Zealand’s Chinese citizens see is a Green Party which criticizes Chinese imperialism, but collaborates with British imperialism on the ground that it is “part of our history”.

    Some Chinese citizens may believe this, but I expect most appreciate the subtlety of the situation and aren’t so black and white as you. Just a guess on my part.

    Anyway, I’d like to hear from the person who goes under the pseudonym of “StephenR” too. Hopefully we’ll hear what more he thinks of your arguments soon.

  103. I would really like to hear from StephenR, not from the person who goes under the pseudonym of “Valis”.

    The modus operandi of “Valis” is to abuse anyone who asks pointed questions of the Green Party hierarchy. He thinks that accusing me of hypocrisy might fit the bill. But he has no grounds on which to allege hypocrisy. So he resorts to saying that if I was to vote, then I would be a hypocrite. This may be perceived as ridiculous, amusing, or just plain sad, but Russel and Metiria should pull “Valis” into line, or at least withdraw the cloak of anonymity behind which they have been sheltering him.

    I think StephenR would see the stupidity of the argument that history provides a justification for the inconsistency between the Green Party attitude to Chinese and British imperialism. As an Australian Russel Norman has a historical association with the anti-Chinese “white Australia” policy. Similar policies were also followed in New Zealand. But “Our history” – which is a racist history – does not provide an excuse for ignoring racial biases in the present. Rather, “our history” makes it all the more important that we address these issues honestly.

    Now what New Zealand’s Chinese citizens see is a Green Party which criticizes Chinese imperialism, but collaborates with British imperialism on the ground that it is “part of our history”. In other words they see a racist Green Party applying a double standard to Chinese and British imperialism – a “two imperialisms” policy if I may paraphrase the title of this thread.

    I know that many Chinese regard Russel Norman as a racist. People like Valis help to confirm them in that opinion with his nonsensical talk of historical justifications. Now there is a need for Russel to front up himself and explain the disjunction in his approaches to British and Chinese imperialism.

  104. You’re exaggerating again, Geoff. Our future demographic isn’t the issue. Our history is the only reason we face this situation. The only way the two situations could be compared is if the President of the PRC was historically our head of state due to some previous Chinese colonisation, and further that the President was now just a figurehead serving at our pleasure until we decided otherwise. If that were the case, then yes, the same logic would apply.

  105. Coming back to StephenR’s comment

    “This is really a very symbolic and mostly hollow gesture though wouldn’t you say?”

    What would Stephen say if people of Raymond Huo’s ethnicity were a majority, rather than a minority, in the House of Representatives? What if that majority then demanded an oath of allegiance to the President of the Peoples Republic of China from all members of the House?

    Would StephenR and the Green Party MPs take the prescribed oath? Would they plead in justification that it was “a very symbolic and mostly hollow gesture”?

    This is of course a hypothetical question, but it is not an unfair one. The Green Party MPs are saying that they have given allegiance to the British monarch because it is “required” and is essentially meaningless. So would they have any difficulty giving allegiance to a Chinese ruler if there was a substantial change in the New Zealand demographic?

  106. The argument that the monarchy will only be abolished after the republican parliamentarians have formally pledged allegiance to the monarch is a weak one.

    Which is why I didn’t make that argument. Watch those straw men, Geoff.

    I suppose you don’t vote, Geoff? It would be hypocritical for you to do so, given the importance you put on the oath. This again would only make the ultimate change to a republic take longer if everyone were suddenly to follow your lead.

    But retaining the monarchy necessarily means retaining the colonial attitudes and imperial associations which have dominated New Zealand politics for the past hundred and seventy years.

    This is hyperbole. You make it sound like we can make no progress from colonialism without taking this one step. In fact it’s the other way around. We’ve come most of the way and that is what will enable us to finally throw off the monarchy.

    I object to the false declaration of allegiance by so-called republican parliamentarians because it is dishonest, cowardly, self-interested and unbecoming to the only sort of republic which would be worthy of our people.

    I personally don’t see it as dishonest when a person states that they take the oath only due to a technicality which would unfairly exclude them from taking up their seat in the House. It is a minor thing, not even treasonous any longer. The monarchy says they serve at our pleasure and the change when it comes will be bloodless. There are so many bigger issues we need to address. I’m not prepared to put them aside until the matter of this archaic oath gets dealt with.

  107. The argument that the monarchy will only be abolished after the republican parliamentarians have formally pledged allegiance to the monarch is a weak one. The American Negro did not obtain his civil rights by continuing to sit down the back of the bus. And New Zealanders will not gain their dignity and independence as a nation by pledging allegiance to a British monarch. We can only change the status quo by taking a stand and challenging it.

    In another respect, however, Valis is quite right. Having a New Zealand citizen elected as Head of State would not in itself solve New Zealand’s problems. The political establishment in New Zealand could quite conceivably continue to be a client state of Britain, the US, Australia, or, for that matter, China after the abolition of the British monarchy and the establishment of a republic. But retaining the monarchy necessarily means retaining the colonial attitudes and imperial associations which have dominated New Zealand politics for the past hundred and seventy years. Therefore the monarchy has to go.

    I object to the false declaration of allegiance by so-called republican
    parliamentarians because it is dishonest, cowardly, self-interested and unbecoming to the only sort of republic which would be worthy of our people. The spineless attitude of the political establishment (I am speaking in particular of the left-wing) means that the move to a republic in New Zealand will have to come from the grass roots, which means that it will represent a radical departure from the status quo, and a rejection of the colonial system in its entirety. So we are very unlikely to end up with the kind of republic which the politicians would give us, subject to the hegemony of the United States or some other world power. I fully expect that Valis will get what he says he wants from a Republic of Aotearoa – an end to one hundred and seventy years of slavery and slavishness.

  108. Stephen, Geoff is an idealist. That’s not bad, we need more. But if all republicans refused to enter Parliament because of that oath, there would only be royalists in Parliament and change would take much longer. As it is, we probably have a majority of republicans there now, but not a critical mass in the two main parties, particularly National. It won’t be that much longer and I’d hate to go backwards now by holding all MPs to an otherwise meaningless oath.

    And it’s not like changing our head of state will be a silver bullet anyway. The far bigger problem than our link to the monarchy is our slavishness to US hegemony and that won’t change when we become a republic.

    As for taking people at face value, Geoff should at least base this on all that they say rather than only part. Every Green MP but one has explicitly stated they support a republic and that they only took the oath for the reasons given above. Geoff knows this as he criticised Gareth for it a few months ago. The one MP who hasn’t, Catherine, wants the monarchy no more than the others, but feels strongly that such a decision needs to be made in genuine consultation with the Treaty partner (actually the others agree, it’s just a matter of where each puts the greater emphasis).

    Along with this, we have Russel following through on oft stated Green Party policy re Tibet. It is just not credible to say there is no way to tell which of these two things he is sincere about.

  109. StephenR: Swearing on the Bible in a court of law is not a comparable situation to swearing allegiance to the monarch. Witnesses are not required to swear on the Bible. Secularists, atheists and others can affirm. Their affirmation, or oath as the case may be, is an undertaking to tell the truth. I do not know of anyone who has a conscientous objection to telling the truth.

    The oath of allegiance to the Queen is very different. The British monarchy is an obnoxious institution. And the oath of allegiance which is imposed upon members of the New Zealand parliament is clearly designed to compromise them politically. The end result is that the institution of parliament is discredited. That is not a particular worry to me, but it should be a concern to those who look to parliament for political leadership.

  110. I think Stephen is telling me that it is a hollow gesture from Russel when he pledges allegiance to the British Queen, and yet evidence of heart felt conviction when he waves a Tibetan flag in front of the cameras.

    Well fair to say I strongly suspect the above, without being bothered to find quotes. Probably some quote re: the Queen from Hone Harawira somewhere though!

    Both are requirements for something. You can’t pick and choose, telling me that one is a hollow gesture and the other is evidence of profound political principles.

    Hmm I would venture that plenty of atheists have sworn on a bible in court, there being a parallel with MPs in parliament i suspect – not worth the trouble of figuring out a compromise, if one is available, and the consequences of this little charade are essentially nil.

  111. StephenR said “Well now this all depends on whether it’s a requirement to pledge loyalty – which i assumed was the case but could be wrong, if so then we’ll have to start from scratch! Rusell went out of his way to fly that flag, which is a bit different from a routine requirement to pledge loyalty.”

    I think Stephen is telling me that it is a hollow gesture from Russel when he pledges allegiance to the British Queen, and yet evidence of heart felt conviction when he waves a Tibetan flag in front of the cameras.

    The first is a requirement for obtaining a seat in parliament. The second, for all I know, may be a requirement for picking up the anti-Chinese vote in the next election.

    Both are requirements for something. You can’t pick and choose, telling me that one is a hollow gesture and the other is evidence of profound political principles.

    I don’t want to have to figure out whether the politician I voted for is being honest, or is making a “hollow gesture” at any particular moment. I want leaders whose every word can be trusted. Implicitly. Unfortunately I don’t see such any people in the New Zealand parliament.

  112. Geoff,

    Well now this all depends on whether it’s a requirement to pledge loyalty – which i assumed was the case but could be wrong, if so then we’ll have to start from scratch! Rusell went out of his way to fly that flag, which is a bit different from a routine requirement to pledge loyalty.

  113. “This is really a very symbolic and mostly hollow gesture though wouldn’t you say?” (StephenR)

    I wouldn’t know. If that is the case, then waving a Tibetan flag could also be a “very symbolic and mostly hollow gesture”. I tend to take people at face value, and I don’t hear many parliamentarians declaring that their solemn oath of allegiance is a “hollow gesture”. If Stephen cares to name those MPs who will admit to making hollow gestures then I will accept his argument.

    “And none of what you’ve said means our MPs are “loyal” to Britain – like I said, certainly the case 40+ years ago, but not now IMHO.” (StephenR)

    Seventy years ago a few New Zealand MPs were quite literally willing to die in a ditch for Britain. These days they are only willing to send others to die in a ditch in pursuit of Britain’s futile efforts to subjugate the people of Afghanistan. So I accept that the current Parliament is probably not deserving of the appellation “loyal”. Perhaps “servile” might be more appropriate.

  114. Well, no, Members of Parliament still pledge allegiance to the British monarch and require poor old Raymond Huo to do the same.

    This is really a very symbolic and mostly hollow gesture though wouldn’t you say? Plenty of Republicans in that parliament. And none of what you’ve said means our MPs are “loyal” to Britain – like I said, certainly the case 40+ years ago, but not now IMHO.

  115. Xinjiang, with it’s ethnic Uigher population, was invaded and occupied by China after a couple of years of formal independence as East Turkestan. Before that Chinese control of the region was theoretical rather than real.

    Then you also had Tannu Tuva, which gained independence from the Republic of China in 1912, had its independence recognised by the Soviet Union and Mongolia, and then was taken over by the Soviets in 1944.

  116. “Are”? Or “were”? I would guess that in the terms you’re speaking of “were” is the operative word.. (StephenR)

    Well, no, Members of Parliament still pledge allegiance to the British monarch and require poor old Raymond Huo to do the same.

    I understand quite a few Members of Parliament retain joint British nationality, there is a constant traffic of members to Westminster, British legislation is uncritically replicated here, and British foreign policy initiatives are supported unquestioningly … if Raymond showed the same commitment to the interests of the Peoples Republic as his colleagues do to the United Kingdom, then he would be pilloried by the likes of Phil Twyford.

  117. “The other regions seemed to have simply (or maybe i’m a bit simple) developed into disgruntled regions.”

    Xinjiang, with it’s ethnic Uigher population, was invaded and occupied by China after a couple of years of formal independence as East Turkestan. Before that Chinese control of the region was theoretical rather than real.

    “…the Dalai Lama is as far as I can tell the legitimate and widely recognised leader of Tibetans both in China and outside. He has become a symbol of their aspirations to self-determination, and a lightning rod for international concern about breaches of human rights by the Chinese government.”

    Nice rhetoric, but for the Labour Party, the Free Trade Agreement trumps all other considerations, so this is just hot air really.

  118. Just as parliamentarians of British descent are loyal to Britain

    “Are”? Or “were”? I would guess that in the terms you’re speaking of “were” is the operative word, and this was in the context of having existing formal ties with Britain – starting with the more obvious ones of being a colony (though did we even have parliamentarians?) and then having Dominion status.

  119. Just as parliamentarians of British descent are loyal to Britain, so Raymond Huo remains loyal to China. Tibet is the proxy issue for a tribal contest between pro-British and pro-China factions in the New Zealand Parliament.

    One could even say that if there was no Tibet, then the New Zealand parliament would have to invent one.

    But for how long will New Zealanders continue to tolerate a political institution whose loyalties lie with Britain, China, Holland, India, Australia, the United States, or any state on this earth but our own?

  120. The Dalai Lama was 15 at the time of China’s invasion and occupation. So how is he “at least in part responsible”?

    In 1951, when the Seventeen Point Agreement was signed, he could have taken that as an opportunity to see all the serfs freed (and I don’t think that the People’s Republic would have objected) – instead, it wasn’t until 1959 when the Chinese took full control that the serfs were finally freed.

    The present Dalai Lama had also taken temporal control of Tibet prior to the invasion of Tibet, and could have quite easily issued a proclamation of something freeing the serfs. Instead, it took the invasion of the People’s Republic of China and the beginning of their repression in 1959 that saw the serfs finally get freed.

    Reincarnation.

    As I understand it, the formal status of the current Dalai Lama stems from his identity as a reincarnation of all previous Dalai Lamas. Therefore he should apologise to the people of Tibet for his actions in his previous lives.

    Well, it was the idea of reincarnation that gave backing to the oppression of the serfs – the prevailing thought was that they must have done something bad in a past life, hence they came back as serfs. It was even viewed that it was the nobles duty to oppress their serfs, lest the serfs come back as something worse.

    So you can have what you call “reasonably fixed” borders, but it all depends on what date you want to choose.

    And to add to the confusion, you had the fact that Tibet was only free in the 1912-1950 period due to the internal troubles in the Republic of China. Would the borders have been different if their independence had been fully recognised by the Republic of China (which it hasn’t done to this day either).

  121. Thanks – more to it than meets the eye, as i perhaps implied. Maybe it’d be better to say that ‘might makes right’ was no longer a truism by the 1950s, as opposed to say, maruaders like Genghis Khan and the like. Historical disputes are a bit easier to ignore!

  122. StephenR says “Tibet was forcibly occupied during a time when we thought country borders were reasonably fixed.”

    Which borders to you mean?

    – The part of Tibet which is under Indian control but claimed by China.
    – The autonomous region of China
    – regions of historical Tibet outside the austonomous area
    – the part claimed by Tibetans in exile
    – the part that India claims but is under Chinese control
    – parts of Nepal that were historically part of Tibet
    – parts of Bhutan that were historically part of Tibet
    – Tibet in as it was for over three centuries under Mongol rule (thirtenth century)
    – various borders in the following three centuries under Chinese rule, and some Mongol rule, and partly automomous rule.

    So you can have what you call “reasonably fixed” borders, but it all depends on what date you want to choose.

  123. Toad wrote: “The Dalai Lama was 15 at the time of China’s invasion and occupation. So how is he “at least in part responsible”?”

    Reincarnation.

    As I understand it, the formal status of the current Dalai Lama stems from his identity as a reincarnation of all previous Dalai Lamas. Therefore he should apologise to the people of Tibet for his actions in his previous lives.

  124. @john-ston

    The Dalai Lama was 15 at the time of China’s invasion and occupation. So how is he “at least in part responsible”?

    What’s more, he has been strongly critical of the pre-occupation feudalism that existed in Tibet.

  125. Why not the others?

    Tibet was forcibly occupied during a time when we thought country borders were reasonably fixed. The other regions seemed to have simply (or maybe i’m a bit simple) developed into disgruntled regions.

    Anyhoo this really is a bit eerie from Raymond.

  126. But times move on, and people, including the Dalai Lama, learn.

    If he has learnt, then when are we going to hear an apology from him? Because unlike apologies that we have heard from Rudd and others, he was at least in part responsible for the oppression of the people of Tibet.

    The other question of course is whether or not the real issue is one of politics – would the people of Tibet be clamouring for independence as much if the People’s Republic were a democracy? That is something that I actually wonder about.

  127. I imagine that Raymond Huo, like many people who grow up in China, has a limited knowledge of the history of China’s actions in Tibet. Sometimes it is easier to learn of countries’ conflicts when you are living in a neutral place like New Zealand. Phil probably has the advantage of contact with people who know ethnic Tibetans as their stories. i doubt that Raymond has had this experience, although he is very knowledgeable about China itself. http://labour.org.nz/mps/raymond-huo

  128. With a quarter of the worlds population, China is just like a Soviet Union, with huge potential to break into many parts.

    Or worse – a Yugoslavia.

    Tibet is just one of many regions that want independence, but we haven’t heard Russel protest about any other region – just the one.

    Why not the others?

    China has a tight control on Tibet, but they probably need to to stop the country splitting up, potentially very violently. Look at the recent “cleansing” of ethnic Chinese by Tibetans – hundreds attacked and dozens killed simply for being Chinese in Lhasa, and $32m damage by rioting Tibetans in another town.

    You say the current situation for Tibetans is no worse than in the past, when 95% of the population lived as slaves for the rich? You comment proves Raymond Huo’s comments in his third paragraph

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