Monday 22 August 2016

Of Chinese Hares And American Hounds

Conflicted Loyalties: Clearly, the New Zealand Government is of the view that it can run with the Chinese hares, hunt with the American hounds, and neither superpower will think anything of it. China will go on underwriting New Zealand’s economic well-being, and the USA will happily pledge her military might to the maintenance of New Zealand’s national security. Yeah, right.

WHERE DID WINSTON PETERS find him? A Chinese immigrant with years of experience in the Auckland real-estate market and willing to write (in faultless English) a no-holds-barred condemnation of the growing Chinese influence over his adopted country? The only detail lacking was the immigrant’s name.
Until I read the Chinese community’s response to his critique, the author’s decision to express his views anonymously struck me as unfortunate. The fiercely resentful character of his compatriots’ replies, however, provided ample justification for his reticence. (Always assuming he was the author – and a genuine Chinese immigrant!)
As the novelist Eleanor Catton can attest, we New Zealanders do not respond well to criticism – especially from one of our most successful children. The Chinese, it seems, are no different.
But then New Zealand is not a fast-rising global superpower. If we become aggrieved and stamp our diplomatic foot angrily upon the world stage, then most of the international community struggles to contain its mirth. When our oldest “friend” in the Pacific region, Australia, is able to imprison and mistreat New Zealanders with impunity, what further proof is required that Kiwi feelings can be happily ignored by just about everybody?
China, on the other hand, is a fast-rising global superpower, with fast-growing armed forces and an economy the rest of the world simply cannot do without. Had the Chinese government not authorised a truly gigantic domestic stimulus package to off-set the contractionary effects of the 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) then the global economy would almost certainly have ground to a shuddering halt. If we have forgotten, or, more likely, remained in complete ignorance of the crucial role China played, then the memory of the Chinese government is clear.
As clear as the ingratitude of China’s neighbours: Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia; who continue to assert their claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines government even had the temerity to seek an adjudication of its claim at the International Court.
The cold fury with which this decision was received in Beijing is difficult to overstate. The Chinese leaders understood that a third-rate power like the Philippines would never have dared to lodge such a claim without the backing of the United States. It was incontrovertible proof that the spots of the imperialist American leopard had not changed.
When the US economy was teetering on the brink of utter catastrophe, China had offered a steadying hand. But, China’s reaffirmation of its historic hegemony in the seas contiguous to its coasts, rather than eliciting Washington’s forbearance, was met with brute demonstrations of American naval power. In response, China stepped up the pace of its militarisation of strategic rocky outcroppings in the South China Sea. If the Americans mean to have a war – the Chinese were saying – let it begin here.

America was not the only nation the Chinese economy kept afloat during the GFC. Her vast markets absorbed New Zealand’s exports like a sponge, allowing its people to congratulate themselves on how well they, and their acutely vulnerable commodity-based economy, had performed.

The expectation in Beijing was that the quid pro quo for China’s economic support would be New Zealand’s diplomatic acquiescence. On the South China Sea, the very least we could do was keep our head down and our mouth shut. Beijing soon discovered that if the spots of the American leopard hadn’t changed, then neither had its cub’s.
Clearly, the New Zealand Government was of the view that it could run with the Chinese hares, hunt with the American hounds, and neither superpower would think anything of it. China would go on underwriting New Zealand’s economic well-being, and the USA would happily pledge her military might to the maintenance of New Zealand’s national security.
When the Philippines won its case in the International Court, the Chinese foreign ministry cocked its ear in the direction of Wellington. They did not like what they heard. Our Foreign Minister thought his carefully chosen words would appease both the Dragon and the Eagle. He was half right.
And now Winston Peters, a former New Zealand foreign minister, decides to pull an insultingly critical Chinese rabbit out of his “black op” hat. China could be forgiven for assuming New Zealand is relapsing into its traditional Sinophobia. China could be forgiven for bolting her doors until we learn better manners.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 19 August 2016.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

The South China Sea situation is outright dangerous. Particularly as the Chinese don't want to abide by court rulings. Probably not helped by the Americans poking at them, but I can see why they do it. If you are going to live in a community of nations, there needs to be a better way of settling disputes than sabre rattling and war. And if we have one – not that it's a brilliant one necessarily – we should all try as best as possible to abide by it. Otherwise we are doomed, the next wars will be about scarce resources – in fact we probably have had some already with the causes disguised. And as soon as China starts well – it's already started – abandoning a production economy and putting money into research and development, it will probably quite quickly become the technological equal of the USA. Then as the Kikuyu say "when elephants fight the reeds get hurt."

Joonda said...

Surely the countries you mentioned have a right to SOME of the south China sea. If not, what are you basing that on?

Nick J said...

GS the Chinese dont stick by court rulings true. But when the court is run by your opponents why would you? Perhaps its a show of strength to test the limits.

Dennis Frank said...

Anyone who thinks Chinese foreign policy has even a shred of credibility probably hasn't studied the history of Tibetan sovereignty. China & the USA are competing in recycling imperialism in the new millennium because they both have an established tradition of imperialistic foreign policy: it's merely inertia.

If the UN were not toothless, perhaps we'd have intelligent collaboration instead, but I suppose the good news is that Russia is trending toward resuming that imperialist style of geopolitics. A tripolar power-play is somewhat of an advance on the Cold War bipolarity.

As for the Nats' foreign policy, looks like pragmatism devoid of principle - but why would we expect anything different? If, say, we weren't a nation of retards, and gave ourselves a leader who provided wise guidance based on personal attunement to the current zeitgeist, what would we expect?

Answer: a foreign policy based on the principle of decentralisation (devolution). We would explain to the governments of China, the USA & Russia, that statism is a dying ideology. Remind them that empires died in WW1, and their attempt to reinvent them via stealth is too nostalgic to deserve respect: "Britain is showing you the way; watch and learn!" Not to mention Texas...

Joe-90 said...

Many chickens are coming home to roost. If the consequences weren't so serious, there would be much to relish, to be honest. We thought we could have trade with China AND a military and intelligence relationship with the US. Note, not a trade relationship with US - they won't let our dairy in beyond what we'd sell to a country a tenth their size. We thought we could have our cake and eat it too. We thought China was a free lunch. But increasingly, we see, with their purchasing of property, and pricing out of our young, their skewing of the political economy (who is the PM now if not an apologist for anything China?), the dumping of steel and the jerking of the leash with kiwifruit (we may not see it in other sectors - we will self censor, we've got the idea of what's in store if we don't) - increasingly, we understand that there is a cost, a very high cost, and that cost is our sovereignty and way of life. And that's without considering the environmental cost (now, even our drinking water - we'd given up on swimming) from all the dairy cows needed to produce for China, or the number of Chinese tourists etc.
We're just a reed in the wind now, with a few benefiting from all this at the top.

jh said...

Wasn't it in China's interests to have a stimulus when it'd trading partners needed it?

jh said...

Wasn't it in China's interest to have a stimulus when the trading partners needed it?

Our entanglement with immigration (pet project of the science and humanities department) is looking naked in the real world where the big people live. "More than 94 per cent of Chinese permanent residents and more than half of those with NZ citizenship told University of Auckland researchers that they felt a greater sense of belonging and identified more with their country of origin than New Zealand." "The study also found that Chinese migrants aged 15 to 44 felt significantly more attached to their homeland identity than those aged 45 and over." But people like Professor Spoonley think that they are running the Show (xenophobia/sinophobia and all that).
How are we going to respond as a nation when our interests are threatened? Just under 92% of Chinese are Han (the European percentage is so tiny you'll never find it).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh well jh, if there's ever a threat to our national interests we can always put them in concentration camps like the Americans did with the Japanese.

John Laurie said...

I don't think the internment option is possible with the numbers we already have. It's a worry if such a large section of our population have their first allegiance to a foreign power.

greywarbler said...

I think people are forgetting that the USA has grandiose ambitions. It wants to rule the world and for the energy to do so it will feed its own people into the fire. Over there the people feel the heat but can't trace the hot spots, and hope that Trump will advise.

Naturally China does not want to be vulnerable to the array of countries the USA has gathered, and wants to set up off-shore defence posts just as the USA has, Hawaii, Guam and so on in oceans each side of its vast land. One of the first things they negotiated off Britain in early WW2 was a Brit island post swopped for an old destroyer or the like.

The National Party deliberately chose Key, a fast-footer from the USA and feel clever that no-one has managed to get a photo of our country without its clothes on and put it up on the web. Key fudges and fast talks and sounds like Mr-Common-Sense and fools the mindless on the media, and few spend even 10 minutes a day after the news thinking and realising the implications. The truth, our future, who cares.

We don't even care about Australia and its insults and withdrawal of human rights to our citizens. They demand that we be allies with them to the USA and would probably institute sanctions if they could, or hold more
joint defence maneouvres. We already had some, quite recently in Timaru, last year I think.

We are allowing our country to be wrecked, our resources to be drained, but there are houses in the USA, or indeed Australia, that will be pleasant retirement mansions with a more glittering society to mix with, if we become the new Syria with fierce dogs fighting over our bones.
I think of our government as the new Vichy, which is a word redolent of conniving with the invaders, in WW2 France.

China is formidable and frightening, making eugenic moves, denying trade in human parts from Falun Gong (think treatment of Jews, Gypsies and dissidents of Nazi Germany). Between them and the USA, which would be preferable to do trade with? But there is nothing that will touch the comfortable woolly onesie that the National Party and Labour hangers on don everyday. Winston speaking up against the Chinese, against our present best interests, is just part of his gamesmanship, the wild card that he plays that draws attention to him but ultimately makes him too unreliable to respect, take seriously or rely on for statesmanship.

jh said...

Oh well jh, if there's ever a threat to our national interests we can always put them in concentration camps like the Americans did with the Japanese.
Except that they aren't an insignificant minority thanks to successive governments promotion of "diversity".
"For the millions of Australians who have no other nation to fall back upon, multiculturalism is almost an insult. It is divisive. It threatens social cohesion. It could, in the long-term, also endanger Australia's military security because it sets up enclaves which in a crisis could appeal to their own homelands for help."
Geoffrey Blainey

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Geoffrey Blainey. You do have a penchant for picking extreme right-wing academics, considering you are supposed to be some sort of socialist? Or at least working class hero.

Charles E said...

It's a major error to confuse trade with politics. Of course we can continue to trade more with China than the US but be firmly in the club with the US indefinitely. Long may it continue. After all we have a similar relationship with many countries. We sell food to those god awful regimes that have enslaved women in Iran & Saudi Arabia yet if they ceased to exist tomorrow we would cheer and look for new markets. Same goes for China. Nobody except Chinese likes much about the place and never will I expect but we are all happy to trade with it.
It is the way of the world and it is a good thing, given the alternative which is poverty and war. So in a sense a trade war is a good thing, a safety valve.

But in politics, by which I mean, who we are culturally in bed with, who we think more like and who we share our view of the world with, the US and Europe or if you like The West, there is no contest. Even China wants to be like us, like the US. Go to Tibet for example, and you will see Chinese tourists wearing cowboy hats and behaving like they have just conquered the wild west from those poor backward natives, who are now liberated by our superior civilisation. And they have, at least to themselves. They are no different in Russia btw, desperately trying to have their own version of the American Dream. They are even going to church a lot these days.

Have you not travelled in SE Asia in recent times? Same story. Even in Vietnam people I talked to said the only country they have no time for is China. I asked what about the US? No problem, we are friends now. French? Same. Wow. I saw US military aircraft at Da Nang airport where only a few decades ago B52 bombers were probably taking off to carpet bomb just over the DMC a few miles north. So the US may have lost that war but really it was just a battle they lost. They won the war and communism lost. But more than that the soft war has been won by the West and China becoming rich will not have much effect on that, as they will just become more Western. As will the immigrants coming here. They are welcome. Chinese are good immigrants, and will integrate given a chance, unlike some others. Given a chance of course, which racists like Peters will not give them. Hope we are rid of his like soon.