“Stupid is as stupid does”

“I think the Chinese communists have basically no understanding of human rights, but for sure they understand the language of economics.”   —   Swedish MP Cecilia Wigstrom.

It’s worrying that so much sheer ignorance and glib clichés like racist and xenophobic are a substitute by the media for a much-needed intelligent analysis of the issue of Chinese companies attempting to buy up our resources and our land. It is almost incredible that comments, even from the usual accredited commentators,  can so triumphantly and ignorantly denounce  those looking with concern at what actually is involved in the Crafar dairy farm controversy by saying “they can’t take the land away, can they?”

Professor Li Dong, a former protester at Tiananmen Square, ex-Oxford ex-Harvard,  and recently retired as a lecturer in Chinese studies at the University of the Waikato,  is almost incredulous at the degree of naiveté, if not insouciance with which too many commentators are pronouncing on this issue. His concerns were echoed by a recent guest at the University of Otago. Professor David Shambaugh “internationally recognised as an authority on contemporary Chinese affairs and the international politics and security of the Asia-Pacific region, ” according to a recent Christchurch Press report ( 3/7/10),  speaking at the annual Otago University Foreign Policy School,  says that after 72 hours in the country he was astonished by New Zealand’s naiveté about its relationship with China. “He was particularly amazed by comment from foreign affairs Minister Murray McCully that most countries would give their right arms to enjoy the relationship we have with China.”  He warned that New Zealand is walking into its relationship with China with its eyes shut.

Professor Shambaugh is not alone in believing that certain strategic assets should be off-limits to foreign ownership, and warns that New Zealand ought to consider the possibility of China demanding access to extract mineral,  if land ownership is granted  – and that  “New Zealand has not properly considered that China might ask to formally call on Kiwi ports with its naval ships”. We have already, in fact, had an armed Chinese warship visit our ports, and I recall with some incredulity higher-ranking Communist Chinese government military personnel being shown around our military bases on a number of occasions while Helen Clark was Prime Minister – this while America, which saved this region Pacific region for democracy in World War II, was still being given the cold shoulder by Clark’s socialist government.

New Zealanders are worryingly naive about China’s aggressive push into this part of the world. The Australians, far more aware, fear that China is going to be a military threat within the next 10 to 20 years. And yet, John Key, with what is increasingly being perceived as his once-over-lightly thinking, advises that ” the Overseas Investment Act won’t stop individual farms being sold,  but it can provide some support around very large tracts of land” . Key is also invoking the concept of xenophobia in a thoroughly superficial fashion. The equally dismissive Tim Groser says that ” New Zealanders have to get it (sic) because governments can’t control these things’.

Really? On the contrary, New Zealanders expect governments to be able to control these things. The defence of the realm is one of three main duties of government. And the ridiculous “they can’t take the land away” completely overlooks the fact that if Chinese companies buy up New Zealand farmland they will then actually own New Zealand territory – which can  serve as a future base and foothold for the Communist Chinese government.

Professor Li Dong and others have been pointing out that this is by no means a question of ostensibly private, Hong Kong-fronted Chinese companies attempting to buy New Zealand land. What it is vitally important to remember is that there isn’t one Chinese-owned company investing overseas that does so without the permission, and very possibly even the financial involvement, of the CCP, the Communist Chinese Party which constitutes the Communist Chinese government.

Not only is Communist China now attempting to buy up, monopolize and stockpile as much of the world’s resources as it can gain, but it is aggressively establishing bases throughout the Pacific, in competition with American interests. Its  activities within Australia are proving controversial and problematic and Australians, far more awake to disturbing developments in the Pacific area with the largest  Muslim populated country in the world on their northern doorstep, think that China is going to be a military threat to them within the next 10 to 20 years.

Moreover, China, which at the moment has no excuse for any territorial claim to the Antarctic, is highly anxious to gain a foothold there. Arguably, as its oppressive totalitarian government ,controlled by the Communist Chinese Party, is quite capable of taking over at any time an apparently privately-owned Chinese company, and if it was a farmland purchase in this country that it appropriated, i.e. if it then owned a slice of New Zealand territory, the Chinese Government itself could arguably then claim (no matter how spurious in reality) a “legitimate” right, on the basis of New Zealand land ownership, to a “legitimate” interest in Antarctica.

China’s historic pattern of following up an economic interest in a country with political interference (we have already seen a taste of this with its bullying over the Falun Gong) and then a military presence – with the excuse of protecting the interests of citizens –  should make us very aware that the smile on the face of the tiger – its charm offensive lavished on New Zealanders and our apparently gullible government at the political level – is merely a mask for the tiger still there.

Warnings on China’s directions  are already expressed in such outstanding books as The China Threat by Bill Gertz and China – the Gathering Threat by Constantine C. Menges, Ph.D.  See, too, from the excellent Australian News Weekly:

http://www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2010sep18_t.html

http://www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2010aug21_c.html

It is almost incredible that our politicians can be so utterly naive and under-educated historically as to ignore the reality that “the Western elites persist in taking such a naive and over-optimistic view of the CCP leadership”.  As the Dominion Post recently reported 2/10/10),  “the World Bank, usually considered a bastion of right-wing thinking, produced a report this month urging governments to protect local land rights.” The bank points out that “even apparently economically viable and sustainable projects may have undesirable social consequences”…. “May have” is the understatement of the year

The Labour Party, together with the Greens,  is now far more on the ball eyeing foreign land ownership as a red-hot political issue. The National government’s naiveté concerning this and other vitally important issues such as the neo-tribal grab for exclusionary control of foreshore and seabed territory makes it plain that it is has lost touch with the concerns of heartland New Zealanders.

These are huge issues. There is no doubt that New Zealanders will be increasingly priced off their own land, and the family farm will disappear, swallowed up in corporate agribusinesses,  if the whole question of the downsides of foreign investment is not  properly taken on board. It is not up to any political oligarchy to inflict its own ill-researched choices on the country.  As Chesterton said ” we are the people of England and we haven’t spoken yet…”  so too, we are the people of New Zealand and these are our decisions to make.

We can as individuals, nationwide, make decisions to speak out to insist on a genuine democracy being established in this country – and to pass on this information well before the next election. There is no doubt this is a movement whose time has come.  But timing is  important – so stay watching this space – and importantly,  please let others  know about it.

Amy Brooke