WELL, THANK YOU, JACINDA! In just five years, you and your government have turned New Zealanders decisively against their country’s most important trading partner. According to research released today (22/6/22) by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, the number of Kiwis who view China as a “friend” has fallen from 62 percent in 2017, to just 13 percent today. Meanwhile, the number viewing the People’s Republic as a “threat” has risen from 18 to 58 percent, over the same period.
That dramatic rise (40 percentage points!) in the “threat” perception, is the entirely predictable result of a relentless, American-led, campaign to demonise, isolate and “contain” China. New Zealand’s “Five Eyes” partners, heedless of the economic consequences for New Zealand, have cajoled and bullied its political class into becoming Sinophobes. They simply do not care that close to 40 percent of this country’s trade is with China. None of them are willing to make good its loss by opening their markets to New Zealand exports. As far as Washington, London, Ottawa and Canberra are concerned, Wellington is simply paying the price of putting all its milk powder in one basket.
It is difficult to grasp the precise cause of the West’s falling-out of love with China. Since the late-1970s, the leading industrial powers have been falling over themselves to invest in the Chinese economic miracle. Without compunction, or compassion, they relocated Western industrial production to an authoritarian state where labour costs were low and unions docile, eliminating in the process the factories that had kept millions of their own workers gainfully employed. There were no complaints then about China’s lack of democracy, indeed, its absence was pretty much the whole point!
Ask them, today, what they were thinking, and they’ll spin you the usual yarn about how certain they were that this new, mutually beneficial, economic relationship would lead to the gradual liberalisation of the Chinese regime. Just as it had in the Soviet Union, democracy was coming to the PRC. You are invited to imagine their surprise and horror when Beijing opted, instead, to combine the Chinese people’s economic prowess with the Communist Party of China’s authoritarian political impulses. Western investment hadn’t created a friend, it had produced a monster!
To which we are all entitled to call “Bullshit!”.
Let’s just consider the counterfactual that China had, indeed, embraced democracy, or something approaching it – a la Singapore. According to the West’s own theories, the country would have become even more powerful, economically and culturally. It’s people, freed from the tutelage of the Communist Party, would have grown even more confident and productive. In other words, China’s inexorable rise to global economic dominance would have happened faster under democracy than it did under authoritarianism.
It is simply implausible to argue that the United States would have behaved any differently when faced with a democratic Chinese hegemon than it has in relation to the real-world’s authoritarian China. What can be asserted, however, is that if China had adopted democracy, then the United States would have found it a great deal easier to destabilise and dominate.
That’s the great attraction of democratic political systems to powers like the United States, they are just so pathetically easy to subvert. Pick a colour – any colour – and Uncle Sam will organise a “revolution” in no time. Don’t believe me? Go ask Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine. Or, dig out Time of 15 July 1996, and read the Cover Story: “Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win.”
There are, of course, many ways to destabilise and break-up a rival nation. If its authoritarian political system makes the organisation of a “colour revolution” impossible, then a global superpower can always stir up ethnic and religious communities in border regions with sympathetic neighbours. Arms can be smuggled across mountain and desert frontiers. Jihadists can be schooled in terror. Bombs can go off in crowded marketplaces. Innocent people can die. The Chinese have watched and learned, and in Xinjiang they have applied the lessons.
Once again it helps to examine the counterfactual. Imagine a China whose leaders were unwilling to take the measures necessary to suppress an Islamist insurgency. Very quickly, Xinjiang would have come to resemble Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Terrorist atrocities would have become commonplace. Beijing would have been forced to field substantial military and intelligence resources to its autonomous region. Communal hatreds would have grown and spread. Hundreds-of-thousands of the native Uighur population would have fled, or been interned. How different, in terms of repression, suffering and death, would it be from the present situation?
Not that these sort of questions are ever posed by the political classes of the Five Eyes powers and their Asian allies. Roughly six years ago, America’s strategic thinkers finally abandoned their dream of a democratic China that the USA could control, and began to intensify its parallel policy of containment. An important part of that effort was the co-ordination of elite opinion across the Indo-Pacific.
It is necessary, now, for earlier narratives of co-operation and friendship with the Chinese – of which New Zealand was a leading exponent – to be abandoned in favour of Washington’s new narrative of a dangerous and expansionist China, hellbent on establishing, first, regional hegemony, and then, full global dominance.
How easily that change of narrative was achieved by Washington should prompt New Zealanders to query the robustness of their own democratic institutions. That there has been no significant divergence of opinion concerning New Zealand’s pivot away from its largest trading partner – with all that entails for the health of New Zealand’s economy and society – should, surely, give us pause. This country’s much vaunted “independent foreign policy” stands revealed as rhetoric – not reality.
Uncle Sam has informed us that New Zealand is at war with Eurasia: that New Zealand has always been at war with Eurasia. Dutifully, our politicians, academics and journalists all contribute lustily to the compulsory “Five Minute Hate” against the People’s Republic. The “friend” that made us rich, has become a “threat” to be contained.
When the export orders dry up – and they will if China decides we’ve become her enemy – then we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves. Oh, and our “very, very, very good friends” – the Americans.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 23rd June 2022.
The idea for curing oneself of minor illnesses used to be measures of castor oil. The treatment for major ones might be regular bleeding, apparently to rid oneself of the poisons in the blood. Amputation or other harsher treatments were last measures.
Which level are we on at present under these Labour changelings who have two heads, which are only both visible to clear-eyed, guileless neurotics?
The ongoing escalation of tension with China is extremely dangerous with clear parallels to Ukraine.
After China’s Communist Revolution in 1949 the deposed government retreated to the Island of Taiwan and retained its international recognition as the actual government of China for 30 years. Taiwan’s constitution today is still the “Constitution of the Republic of China” which maintains it’s territorial authority over the entirety of China at its unified 1947 borders. This standoff between Beijing and Taipei has been uneasy for decades but the US is actively fanning the flames of this tension. An endless media saturation of China as a “bully” without counter-narratives cloud easily lead the way to a nuclear exchange.
International moves to recognise Taiwan as a nation separate to China can only be perceived by Beijing as a direct attack on its territory.
Last week, the “Taiwan Policy Act” was introduced to the US Senate which designates Taiwan the status of a “major non-NATO ally” which will authorise the US in training, arming and transferring US weapons stockpiles to Taiwan. This includes missiles that can strike Beijing! There is no way China will accept a “Cuban Missile Crisis” of Washington’s design.
The US actively called for greater involvement of Taiwan at the UN last year. In February and April, the US sent the destroyers USS Ralph Johnson and USS Sampson through the Taiwan Strait in followed by the guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal in May while lecturing China that sea between Taiwan and mainland China is “international” waters which implies the acceptance of Taiwan as a foreign nation. For some reason Jacinda Adern felt New Zealand’s assertion of the “freedom of navigation” in the Taiwan Strait was worthy of issuing a joint statement with Joe Biden over last month.
In unbelievable stupidity, Biden last month committed to sending US military assistance to Taiwan should military conflict erupt with China. I can’t imagine China simply watching on as the US Pacific Fleet spends two weeks travelling from Honolulu to “assist” Taiwan and God help us all if China was to sink a carrier group enroute to its coastline.
This bravado and escalation of provocation is not in anyone’s interests. The clear absence of counter-narrative in our media portrayal of China and our willingness to get involved is extremely dangerous when we should be trying to dampen down the rhetoric and reduce tensions.
I was pleased to hear Kim Hill during her interview with a China expert last Saturday start referring to demonising China. Yes, after a decade of being brainwashed into demonising Russia we are now to begin demonising China. Alienating China is a big price to pay for being a US playground buddy.
'When the export orders dry up – and they will if China decides we’ve become her enemy ' strange how suddenly money becomes more important than morals. The hated concept of capitalism is now to be adored. Perhaps because to do otherwise would involved a personal loss. All good for others to suffer, but hard to accept when it is yourself that would suffer.
NZ is just the Albania of this century and many seem to be happy to sleep walk into the future.
So how else to explain China's recent expansionist-influencer and strategic positioning in the Pacific? A clear expression of intent ... with hostile significance ?
Its always refreshing to read a thoughtful piece taking on the counterfactuals.
Hey Changeling ... What on earth does this mean?
Quote: "Which level are we on at present under these Labour changelings who have two heads, which are only both visible to clear-eyed, guileless neurotics?".
To elicit meaningful assessment-responses to your posts we ... at the very least, need them to be intelligible
A bit contradictory to your Ukraine story which established the Washington Empires MO for its planned war with China. Bait China in the same way they baited the Russians over NATO expabsion into Ukraine. Hopefully, Xi Jin Ping is smarter than Putin.
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