What taxes? The National Party’s stunning hypocrisy – versus Labour’s learning curve?

How many New Zealanders are aware of one of the National Party’s most damaging impositions on the country  – that in these three years since the 2008 election, it has imposed, or increased, reportedly 15 taxes, without prior warning?

Bill English increased GST from 12.5% to 15%. Remember ? John Key promised this wouldn’t happen. Any surprises here?

So let’s look at this list  – while National tries its best distraction tactic – pointing the finger at the Opposition.

However, among the National Party’s legacy?

Taxes were raised on KiwiSaver

Charges were increased for Internal Affairs – Births, deaths & Marriages

Student loan repayments increased from 10% to 12 %. Overseas-based New  Zealanders are also being charged interest on their loans

The average fee for tertiary education has also increased.

Passport charges increased from $135.00 to $180.00

Civil Aviation Authority fees rose

Road user charges increased

National slapped on an additional 9 % fuel tax increase

What about the large, reportedly unnecessary ACC levy increase?

Prescription charges increased by 66%

New online company filing fees were imposed on businesses

Revising of the scope of Fringe Benefit Taxes

National tried to tax car parks and plainclothes police uniforms

A lowering of Working for Families abatement threshold and the abatement   rate – taking money out of the pockets of families.

Imposing an incredible $900 Family Court fee

Descending to squeeze even children’s earning, by imposing what many consider a contemptible tax on the small earnings of paper delivery boys and girls.

Yes, Labour’s over-confident proposals to impose taxes did not go down with the electorate – any more than Gareth Morgan’s ill-thought proposal to apparently punish people who own their own homes. On the basis that people who rent pay for renting, Morgan apparently thinks it would be a wonderful idea if people owning their houses should also pay rent. The arguably unjust, even bizarre idea that this multimillionaire has come up with, completely ignores the fact that the equivalent of paying rent by home-owners has been the many years of paying off a mortgage. And of course they already pay an additional rent in the form of local government rates on their housing and land. Morgan makes no acknowledgement of the fact that those renting properties make no contribution to rates.

Jacinda Ardern obviously still has a lot to learn – at least she seems to have taken this on board. Just as well. Her hint that Labour might not tax the family home – but could tax the land underneath it  – is also weasel territory. It overlooks the fact that this land is already taxed by the rates that local government demands – constantly upping them, and always above the rate of inflation.

Between the extortions of central and local government, New Zealanders have been having a very hard time – and this doesn’t even take into account the best of our farmland and scenic reserves now being snapped up, under National’s too comfortable accommodation with the mega-wealthy – including, worryingly, Communist Chinese – and being priced inevitably out of the reach of New Zealanders. We are losing our land – at the same time that we have been incrementally losing our freedoms,   and if there is any more money to be squeezed out of us, National will not hesitate to do so.  Already another fuel tax by National is mooted.

In the past  three years, since the 2008 election, what National has basically been doing is scraping the barrel. We already know that their boast of the surplus they have achieved has been based on squeezing tight every single important service they could get their hands on – the hospitals constantly ordered to return more to the government; mental health services in shocking disarray; youth help and drug rehabilitation under-funded – no tax too mean-minded not to be imposed. Yes, Labour is still an unknown risk  – but National’s avaricious grab for any possible tax, its utter arrogance and lack of consultation with the country. make it too undeserving and too big a risk to vote back in.

However, apparently the media never learn. A too–often soppy-sounding  Dompost columnist, who has apparently stayed close to the political scene for too long, has attacked Labour’s consideration of the capital gains tax… (but doesn’t mention any of National’s taxation impositions, during its recent three year term. ) She describes Labour’s  airing of a  possible capital gains tax  as “cavalier and uncaring about the uncertainty it created among people whose financial future was tied up in property.” What an extraordinary statement!  – given her failure to recognise that one of the reasons the capital gains tax has been so often kicked out of the arena is that most MPs own multiple properties – they themselves, while cavalier about inflicting taxes on others – are not quite so keen when it comes to their own pockets being raided.

It is not just as Tracey Watkins blandly reports,  that “a capital gains tax has always been fraught electorally because of the kiwi love affair with property.”  What about our MPs love affair with multiple properties?  And her what of her inability to stand off and analyse the issues – without over-praising the politicians with whom she is constantly in touch ?  E.g. No guesses about  “probably two of the nicest people you will meet in politics. They are both supersmart, genuinely care, and have empathy and emotional and  intelligence in spades.”

Grief…what about a lot more  objectivity, Tracey – instead of what sounds like a failure to remain emotionally detached? Why fall for the smarm and charm offensive that is so crucial for politicians to dish out – around election time?  It doesn’t help if  female reporters gush like this – Watkins  apparently needs to toughen up. And she is still finding excuses to praise the evasive and slippery John Key – “ One of National’s most successful Prime Ministers, because he never let ideology  get too far ahead of pubic opinion.” Sheer nonsense, Tracey –  he had the gift of the gab, and is regarded as having had far too close an attraction to the Communist Chinese super-wealthy, who were keen to support  him  to get rid of the Union Jack  from our flag. They are still massively contributing to the National Party’s fund-raising efforts.  Is it really too much to wonder why?

Key opened the floodgates to unmanageable immigration, was basically responsible for all the sneaky tax increases National introduced this last term  – and he took no notice of the country when he wanted his way – the TPPA was a very good example of this… Many will argue he got out  – seeing the writing on the wall.

Let’s hope it’s also on the way for this damaging government – and that New Zealand First, the one party which has a chance of reining in the excesses that the two major parties consistently indulge in – is able to make its presence a formidable reality in the new period of government ahead.

 

© Amy Brooke Help us fight for the 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement!

© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.

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More pie in the sky from National and Labour. Winston’s last chance?

To many New Zealanders this election has become a farce, an American-style leaders’ standoff between a complacent, smug-looking Bill English and a young, unproven new Labour leader with the gift of the gab so necessary for a politician trading on charisma. This, eventually, as we have learned to our cost, is so often very damaging. The two major parties are vying to outdo each other with the pots of gold they are promising. But it is we New Zealanders who will have to face the consequences. And the realisation of the basic corruption of this process has increased the contempt with which many New Zealanders now regard politicians. Moreover, there’s widespread concern that the control of this country is passing out of our hands.

For example: The recent fundraising event at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel attracted hundreds of very wealthy, financially supportive Chinese, more than keen to see the National Party returned to power. We should be asking ourselves why? And  Ron Asher’s “In the Jaws of the Dragon”, produced by Tross  Publishing, is a must-read for New Zealanders concerned (and all New Zealanders should be very concerned) about how New Zealand’s  National government is bending over backwards “to accommodate the interests of Communist China at the expense of the prospects and interests of ordinary New Zealanders” .  There is little doubt that China’s ruthless and repressive government is intent on economically colonising and dominating our economy and key resources –  parallelling its build-up of armaments and  the intimidation of its neighbours.

Many worrying about voting carefully – and walking past the usual fringe candidates – will be thinking that although their civic responsibility requires them to take an interest, and indeed a real part, in the democratic process, this does not mean that they have to actually vote for any electorate candidate. Always compromising, by attempting to support the lesser of two evils, isn’t necessarily required of us – and is certainly not the best way to aim for what has now become essential. This is the reform of our institutions –  first of all of politics, including the hasty passing of inadequately thought-through laws and regulations  endlessly inflicted on the country –  with highly damaging consequences. 

Jacinda Ardern’s proposed new water tax is a very good example of just this – feel-good legislation which will hit dairy farmers, wine-growers, and those commercially growing vegetables and other foods for New Zealanders’ tables. Even more ominously, to allow the government to tax such water usage (overseas companies are another issue that urgently needs addressing)  will be, as far as our own people are concerned, wedging open the door of the vitally important understanding that water and air are not taxable  commodities for a government to pounce on, to take advantage of its people. Given the incremental creep of the State – with the knowledge that yet another tax lies within reach – the likelihood of this water tax eventually being extended to households is a very strong one.

Other aspects of Labour’s grab for power are equally dismaying.

How many are aware that its deputy leader, Kelvin Davis, has promised a most destructive piece of legislation with regard to an issue which the country has had enough of?  Winston Peter’s pledge to abolish the Maori seats has been met with relief nationwide – relief, because of the already damaging consequences of so much of the ongoing divisive and costly provisions which have too long haemorrhaged taxpayer funding away from much needed areas of real need.

Under the National Party’s ongoing neglect of this important reality in recent years, it is no surprise that OECD data has established that on a per capita basis, New Zealand’s housing issue is one of the worst in the world.  Only recently, with an election in its sights, has National faced up to what John Key acknowledged in 2007 – but then kept blatantly denying until late in his term of office – that Auckland in particular has a housing crisis. Moreover, the ongoing granting of often highly challengeable “compensation” funding to manipulative iwi has very much contributed to the squeeze on vital health and social services in all other areas of the economy. The billions of dollars accumulatively handed out to ensure preferential rights and privileges for those with even a smidgen of Maori inheritance has been more than questionable.  Markedly undemocratic in conception – it has been given with extraordinary largesse – not on the basis of need – nor of equal rights for all – but as some sort of reward or compensation for a minority of New Zealanders whose part-ancestors arrived before the colonial settlement of this country.  An accumulation of evidence also now shows that they were by no means the first to arrive.

Meanwhile, in every walk of life, in the professions, the trades and industry, in the factories, in farming and forestry, New Zealanders of part-Maori descent perform as individuals, without claiming superior rights or entitlements. Only the (part)-Maori MPs and the big players, the now wealthy and corporative iwi, continually pushing for self-advantage and employing their well-funded lawyers to squeeze every last ounce and more “entitlement” from the now corrupt treaty industry,  will  be supportive of the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party’s intent to entrench the Maori seats in parliament.

If this isn’t a racist move, what is?  Part–Maori MPs have long won places for themselves in exactly the same way as other New Zealanders – and the country is fed up with the race-based politics that Labour is now endorsing further – let alone the National Party’s forcing of local bodies to take on board unrepresentative and unelected “Maori” advisers, whose apparently superior insights will guide us all.  Only Winston is challenging this corruption of the democratic process, overwhelmingly supported in this stance by the majority of New Zealanders. And that Peters has already promised to put directly to the public any new, New Zealand First’s legislative proposals, post-election, not already covered in New Zealand First’s manifesto, brings his party closest to the democratic principles so conveniently abandoned in the past by  Labour and National – to all our cost.

Many New Zealanders will be feeling caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, given Labour’s lack of any real costing of its reform proposals – and the realisation of what the present National Party leader’s much vaunted economic prowess has cost the country. Contrary to his assertions, it has not come as the result of increased productivity – but by prioritising unprecedented and highly problematic levels of immigration – replacing a much-needed emphasis on developing our own industries. It has very much contributed to the extraordinary and continual squeeze on the hospitals, mental health care, and other  essential services, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation. There has long been a shocking reduction in areas that New Zealanders were once far more able to access. But the waiting lists for much-needed hospital operations are very much still with us. Emergency services are barely coping, and New Zealanders can now find themselves in beds in corridors – with wards too full to admit them. Moreover, we are now being forced to carry the costs of foreigners who access our hospitals and health services – but abscond without paying. This shouldn’t be happening. No visa should be granted for entry into New Zealand for those who do not carry health insurance to cover such costs. Why haven’t our governments enforced this?

The level of poverty in this country today is such that the Salvation Army reports that they have never seen such a level of homelessness – while this National government, bragging about its economic achievements, has allowed housing affordability to be placed beyond the reach of so many New Zealanders. In three months of this year alone, the government spent a record $12.6 million paying for short-term, seven day hotel stays for those in desperate need. Many thousands are on a waiting list for social housing. Moreover, the new education reform package which Bill English is highlighting has almost nothing whatever to do with the real crisis of education in this country because of its dumping down these last five decades. Education has become a political tool in this country,  with recent both Labour and National Ministers of Education showing minimal comprehension of what has gone wrong and why…and performing poorly with regard to holding the ministry responsible. To call their handling of their portfolios clueless is no exaggeration. 

Given the lack of any great enthusiasm for any for either of the major two parties – apart from the media’s love affair with Jacinda Ardern, which will undoubtedly carry over to increased Labour votes, this country is in trouble. The question facing so many is why they should vote for an electorate candidate they can’t trust – or who will put his/her party before the wishes of the electorate? Or why give a party vote to any of the major parties, given these recent years of prioritising their own interests and the behind-the-scenes trade-offs, and cover ups.  What of the Todd Barclay affair?  What of the extraordinary number of texts (reportedly over 450!)  English sent to his former electorate staff in the months leading up to her resignation.

 Who was telling the truth? And what of the fact that an increasing number of government departments seem seriously dysfunctional – or are leaking like sieves?  Who leaked to National the information about Winston Peter’s superannuation repayment? We’ve been here before, when it was revealed security intelligence staff were supplying politically damaging information to political operatives in the then prime minister John Key’s office.

Given  the apparently inevitable fracturing of New Zealand First, with its also internal party squabbling, poor organisation and lacklustre List candidates with sharp elbows – (and the apparent cold-shouldering of potential  well-qualified candidates which might have posed a threat to its inertia  and complacence)  there’s a question  many will face. Should they refrain from voting for a local candidate more wedded to the party than to his/her electorate, and simply give New Zealand First their List vote – to allow Winston his last chance? Those questioning his inability to ensure New Zealand First’s largely invisible List candidates have performed well in public – raising the question of whether it is  simply that largely they have been  a lacklustre lot – or whether Peters prefers to centre-stage –  may well be wavering. However, given the fact that the political world has always attracted prima donnas, and that this does not negate a commitment to standing firm on actual principles, many will think there are stil very good reasons, at least at this particular election, for supporting him.

One is that although there is every possibility that New Zealand First will implode after this electoral term, once Winston has moved on, he has made one enormously important pledge. While Labour is promising to entrench racial preference in his country, Winston has staked his electorate commitment on the opposite. And it is Winston who represents the views of the backbone of this country – the real New Zealanders working on the land, in small factories, in the trades and industries and professions. Everywhere one turns, New Zealanders now overwhelmingly swamped by more and more unwieldy unrealistic, and even ominous, compliance issues, have had enough.

How many are aware, for example that depositing $10,000 in the bank brings you to the attention of the police? Under the guise of checking for money-laundering, this state-spying move targets New Zealanders going about their business… selling a car, or quite legitimately indulging in what should be private transactions. Even more ominously, and to the considerable disquiet now of family lawyers, anyone giving even $1000 to be invested by a family solicitor now  has to be reported. There are lawyers objecting – as they should –  and discussing refusing to abide by such a demand. But every law firm in future will have to have a virtual government spy  – that is some within the firm to see that this compliance issue is enforced   – or the inevitable consequences will follow.

What has happened to the country is that basically, we have been losing it. Many will regard National as accelerating this process – given its quite shocking record of prioritising the interests of foreign, including Communist Chinese investors and buyers, over those of New Zealanders. However,  Labour’s deputy leader shows no sign of understanding the essence of democracy – with his own intent to prioritise the interest of those wedded to divisiveness in this country, rather than social cohesion and stability.

 Many will think that Winston still represents the hope of all New Zealanders – not for the Trojan Horse of “diversity” – but for an ability to live as one in the sense of sharing the hope of a future devoid of the outpouring of racist policies and funding in which National have been even worse than Labour – and which Bill English is still indulging in.

We can actually fight to claim back our country reform, protesting the whittling away of our democratic rights and freedoms, by withholding our electorate vote – unless we have an outstanding candidate we can trust.  Yet when, in recent years, has any Labour or National candidate, with the exception of the principled Damien O’Connor,  stood up against his political colleagues to challenge polices the country does not support? O’Connor  also reminds us that National, including Bill English, have  long been determined to avoid a much- needed investigation into why the Pike River mine tragedy was so shocking handled – and to oppose the cover-up which still attempts to prevent families having answers they deserve – and access to recovering the bodies of those they loved and lost.

There has been too much of a whiff of corruption around National’s term in government for many New Zealanders to want to see it remain in power. And if enough New Zealanders were to deliberately withhold an electorate vote, it would force much–needed public debate about what has gone wrong with this country – and how it can be rectified  – in order to restore integrity to the political system. Which is where the 100 Days movement, so successful on doing just this for the most successful democracy in the world – comes into its own.

Isn’t it time we grew up as a country, to insist that it’s the people who should be in charge of the important decision-making – not an arguably venal political class? It can be done – it is a movement well under way. And looking at what these electoral bribes are going to have cost us all – by next time around – our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand initiative has a very good chance of more than making its presence felt.  We are under way – join us to support us.

Help us fight for the 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement!

© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.

It helps a lot to SHARE or LIKE us through the social media network!
Do help us to get our message further out by donating. See www.100days.co.nz!

 

 

 

 

 

Repression, arrest and death, today’s Communist China

Repression, arrest and death – today’s Communist Party’s China.

Well, John Key?

NEWSFLASH: The Chinese police arrested ten women in Beijing on March 8, the International Women’s Day. Their crime? Distributing anti-sexual harassment leaflets!

The Chinese Communist Party leadership has adopted an absolute “zero tolerance” policy on any public action.

This super police state, with its deep pocket of money, is now exerting a great deal of influence outside its boundaries. A million Chinese are reportedly now in Africa; Chinese interests have been buying up the Bordeaux vineyards. And closer to home, why is our Key-led government so determined to avert its eyes from what is happening – and why –   with the unprecedented largesse China is lavishing on our Pacific neighbours – and with the buy-up of New Zealand?

Among the immigrants to our country in the late 18th and early 19th century, none were more hard-working than those Chinese who came here, slaving away in horrendous conditions – in freezing cold and close to starvation – to mine the gold fields and send money back to their people in China. Their descendants, with the same unequalled work ethic today – (which puts to shame that of many iwi constantly claiming special importance and clamouring for special recognition – simply as a result of prior arrival) set up market gardens and shops, with parents, children, and grandparents all contributing. Their loyalty to family meant all worked towards helping any family member with the potential to become a doctor, a teacher, or any other professional – pooling their resources and financial contributions. Too often discriminated against at the time, they remain among the New Zealanders we can be most proud of.

They were followed by other immigrant Chinese, highly intelligent and equally hard-working. Some of these today are now very concerned at New Zealand’s over-close accommodation with the country from which they may have fled. There are publicised cases of individuals targeted for victimisation if they wish to return to this Communist Party-controlled country in order to visit aged parents or relatives. With considerable courage, and, in some cases, with name changes to protect a family, they very much keep in touch with what is happening in China.

It has been a privilege to know one very highly educated Chinese individual who protested as a young man at Tiananmen Square, before he worked at prestigious universities in England and the US, and settled in New Zealand.

We all know that the Key government has been making no effective public protest at all in recent years about the continuing abuse by the Communist Chinese Party of so-called ordinary Chinese who have had the courage to make a stand against oppression.   Ai Weiwei, China’s most renowned international artist, formerly imprisoned for his own criticism of the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression, states “Right now, in China, we are living in conditions that no other generation has ever experienced – of great economic growth and expansion, but also great oppression of freedom of speech and human rights.”

The current president Xi Jinping, with whom John Key apparently feels “comfortable”, is very much part of that oppression. According to The Guardian and other sources, China’s repression of political activists, writers, independent journalists, artists and religious groups who potentially challenge the party’s monopoly of power has intensified since Xi took office nearly two years ago. Moreover, the persecution of Christians is now well underway, with the CCP reportedly feeling unsettled by the fact that there are now more Christians in China than there are actual members of the party.

An article in the Australian News Weekly, RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION – Beijing fury as Christians outnumber communist in China – see http://www.newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id= 56808 – details how several Catholic bishops are under house arrest for rejecting the authority of the Chinese Patriotically Catholic Association (PCA), a front organisation set up by the Chinese Communist Party to monitor and control Catholics. These include the Bishop of Shanghai, the right Rev Thaddeus Ma, who has been under house arrest at the Shehan seminary for over two years. Bishop Ma used his ordination Mass to announce that he was resigning from the PCA. His announcement was greeted by the 1000 member congregation with thunderous applause, which is not surprising, given how much the Catholic faithful despise that organisation.

And this is all fine with Prime Minister John Key, and his National Party yes-men– and women?

However, mainstream New Zealanders want to know why we are making no protest at all about China’s repression of those who dissent from the ruling party line.

And why has there shamefully been no report in Western media of the recent death in prison of Shi En Xiang, a Vatican appointed Bishop who has died in prison at the age of 94. A report from a Chinese language website only reached me from the former protester at Tiananmen Square. Headed “The Death of a Martyr” if has reported that “Shi En Xiang, a Vatican-appointed bishop, died in prison at 94.”

 During his long life, he spent altogether 53 years in Communist China’s prison or a hard labour camp because of his Catholic faith.

He was arrested in 1954 as he refused to sever links with Vatican and join the Communist Party-sponsored “Patriotic Catholic Church”.

“Released in 1980, he was secretly appointed bishop of Yi Xian in Hebei Province in 1982. He was immediately harassed by the police, until Easter in 2001, when he was arrested and was never seen again.

“On 1 February his family was informed by the authorities of his death and told to get ready to collect his body. But nothing has happened after that.

“The following link is to Radio France International.  So far all the information has been in the Chinese language.”

https://zh-cn.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10155196050570273&id=155677885272

“Though an atheist”, says this brave, former protestor at Tiananmen Square, “I take off my hat to this great human being for his resistance to bowing to an evil power.”

He also recently wrote, with regard to my concerned comment on what is happening to this country, given Prime Minister John Key’s airy dismissal of the concern of New Zealanders – (now felt right thought this country) – about what is regarded as a sell-out of our birthright, our land and heritage, our housing, and much else.

“I agree with your sobering assessment. As a footnote to what you’ve said, the Pope may have decided to keep mum over Shi’s death. The death may come at an inconvenient moment for the Vatican as it’s engaged in “negotiation” with Beijing. Alas! ”

I am by no means the only New Zealander shocked at the Key government’s amoral kowtowing to such a brutal régime. Its culpable silence lets down the “ordinary” Chinese people, and those brave souls who stand up to oppose it – who are then bulldozed by the brutality of the CCP.

Extracts from the following exchange between this former youthful protestor and a friend of his in the US (names withheld from concern for their and their family’s safety) cast light on the plight of the Chinese people as a whole. It is not they, but the immensely wealthy “princes” of the CCP – or those connected with it – who are buying up our country – while the Key government decides to look the other way.

“I totally blame our naive leaders in my country – Kissinger, Nixon, Clinton, etc.  The list is long.”

“You know why? Mainly because you Americans allowed China so much in the way of trade surpluses for decades, turning a blind eye to its unashamed, mercantile export-led trade policy. Have the grand men who promoted Globalization as a holy article of faith foreseen such a day?

Let’s see if the Pope takes note of his death.  His life and death are just one example of a human being standing up to the CCP. There are many more like him, and I count you among those who have sacrificed much.

“I am always trying to figure out what might make the CCP really change track, but it seems little does.  Millions of people have died at its hands. and yet it still stands strong.  I feel the CCP is now at the point of no return, and that there is nothing that can stop them.  There is actually nothing to stop them.  The only thing that could stop them is the people of China themselves, if ever they all rise up together, but again, the CCP has put all the stopgaps in place to prevent such an incident.

”The US alone cannot do anything to the CCP, and anything it does would hurt the average Chinese person.   I don’t see any big changes except for the Chinese model gaining more ground – since it is frankly easier for governments to operate that way than democratically – UNLESS the world unites against the CCP after Russia and Iran come to their senses, and the pressure builds within China for change.

“That is the only hope. Stephen Hawking maintained recently that aggression is the world’s worst enemy and I see how the CCP is the kingpin of our demise.”

The question now facing New Zealanders is whether or not, in the face of government indifference, the CCP, underpinning supposedly private Chinese investment on this country, and gathering more and more momentum, is also going to be the kingpin of our demise.

 © Amy Brooke. Convener – the 100 Days – Claiming back New Zealand – www.100days.co.nz   Join us to help win back this country…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China the fox?New Zealanders chickens?A haunting photo,Mike Hosking

As for Xi’s much-ballyhooed anti-corruption campaign inside China, it offends me that international media depict it as a good-governance effort…” Anne Stevenson-Yang

It’s the face of a good man, looking down very sadly, as if he has suffered a body blow – which indeed he has. And there’s a very real question of whether our government-led snuggling up to an utterly repressive, brutal and corrupt Communist Chinese régime is not only totally unethical – but also very, very foolish.

What about bringing reality on board in these matters? The sad photograph referred to is that of Illham Tohti, an economics professor and peaceful advocate for human rights who founded a website which published articles on social issues. Three days ago, seven of his students were also jailed after disappearing into police custody for 10 months. Mr Tohti is regarded as more deserving of the Nobel Prize than the shockingly unjust sentence inflicted on him.

Well, in China, you can forget about human rights. Needless to say the website was closed down, accused of forging links to extremists in the Uyghur Diaspora. Among his other “crimes” Tohti called for a stricter interpretation of China’s 1984 Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law. His wife, who had not seen her husband for eight months, wept when he was led away. She worries about his health, given that during his imprisonment, food and warm clothing were reportedly intermittently withheld from him. All his assets have been confiscated – although she has two young sons to support. The PEN American Center, which campaigns for freedom of expression and gave Mr. Tohti an award in March 2014, three months after he had been detained, released a statement saying: ,“His conviction makes a mockery of China’s professed commitment to social harmony by silencing one of the country’s unifying voices and, with it, fellow Uyghur writers who are now unlikely to dare speak out.”

What about the number of journalists imprisoned for writing articles critical of the current Communist government? What about the many dissidents locked away, reporting verified incidences of brutality and torture while in prison? What about all the victims of what is basically a tyrannical régime – for all its clever cultivation of countries like New Zealand which it wants to use for “strategic alliances”. What sort of strategic alliances… with a country whose buying up of influence right throughout the Pacific to gain possible military bases is raising considerable concern – a thoroughly undemocratic country which has, extraordinarily enough, even suggested possible, utterly inappropriate military alliances with this country? And how far can we trust our government?

As recently as early this month, President Xi Jinping, with whom our Prime Minister appears to have an extremely comfortable relationship, reportedly “intensified his ideological onslaught on China’s creative industries with a plan to send artists, filmmakers and television producers to rural villages and mining towns ‘to form a correct view of art’. This scheme, according to the state news agency, will be extended to script writers, directors, broadcasters and television anchors, all of whom will be obliged to spend one month “in ethnic minority and border areas”.

It is not surprising that a parallel with the attack on the tall poppies in the infamous Cultural Revolution springs to mind. China’s philosophy of keeping its friends close, but its enemies closer, should make us very circumspect in our relationship with a country whose practices of brutality towards its own people have been compared to those of Nazi Germany.

President Xi Jinping is now regarded as China’s most powerful and oppressive leader since Mao Tse Tung. “The smile on the face of the tiger” is a not inaccurate summing up of the public persona of this President presiding over “a major crackdown on government opponents that has seen academics, activists and human rights lawyers jailed.”

It is an exceptionally brave and principled individual who will now stand up to the downright bullying of this oppressive Communist régime. Internet and press censorship have deteriorated rapidly under Xi – a fact which our National-led government apparently has no problem with. We make no official public protest ever – against the well-known brutality of China’s government. Not ever. But according to the evasive John Key, possibly wearing one of his interchangeable hats, our concerns are voiced – it’s just that this is always done behind the scenes.

Really? A shame, then that we have no evidence whatsoever of this. And if in fact it is done. It is no doubt regarded on both sides as a mere routine gesture, with no genuine interest whatsoever on the part of New Zealand to shame China into treating its people as individual human beings, with very real rights, including that of freedom from oppression, freedom to speak to the truth of issues – and freedom from excessive bullying from their government.

New Zealand is now apparently being requested to support China’s hunt for supposedly corrupt officials and fraudsters who have fled China’s control to escape to countries, very possibly including New Zealand, with huge sums of public money.

Should we be thinking more deeply about this? Where are our standards? Should economic considerations alone concern us in our dealings with a country whose Communist government exercises a vice-like control over its people, abuses its citizens, even to a denial of basic human rights?

Granted that we have a charismatic New Zealand Prime Minister whose love affair with the media is only now beginning to look tacky — but who up till very recently has more or less got his own way with regard to the issues of the day. And has there historically been a more damaging attribute in a leader then the very dangerous gift of charisma? Nor is John Key regarded as overly given to landing fairly and squarely onto the truth of issues – but rather as imaginatively skirting around them. The selection of hats he wears to approach people in apparently differing capacities appears to be changed according to convenience.

But what when he is speaking for New Zealanders, and considering undertaking commitments about which the country has not been consulted?

According to the National Business Review, China needs help, not hindrance, in its new fox-hunting campaign. But what kind of government are we dealing with is the first question we should be asking ourselves, when considering any sort of cooperation beyond basic trade issues (now problematic enough) with a régime which hunts down its own dissidents and gives the lie to its apparent endorsement of democratic freedoms. China is of course, like any supposedly “Communist country”, much more like a kleptocracy – defined as “ a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class, at the expense of the wider population, often with pretence of honest service.”

So how should we respond when we have a call from the highest-ranking representatives of this government to facilitate the return of hugely wealthy Chinese immigrants arriving with money that the present Chinese leader (according to Prime Minister Key) claims is not theirs, and results from corrupt activities?

This begs very relevant questions. If this is so, who let these people into the country? Why has New Zealand been giving immigration preference to the super-rich – and therefore making it easier for corrupt money to enter the country? And what sort of values is our government showing to the world by making considerable wealth the prime requisite for entry? Moreover, what about the fact about which the government is in denial that – that our Mums and Dads and young, first-time homeowners are being forced out of the housing market by a now considerable imbalance – in particular the flood of homes being sold to Chinese buyers?

The warning signs are there, as in blogger Bernard Hickey’s drawing attention to the fact that a website that markets over 8500 New Zealand homes to Chinese buyers is just the beginning. The flood of Chinese investment is expected to rise 15 to 20% in 2015 and 2016…Yet John Key’s government has to be dragged towards looking at what Australia is doing to protect Australian families. While Key continues an obfuscation and rejection of information he would rather not have – his usual flippant denials (in this case the dismissive “all anecdotal’) – he is completely wrong. And this does raise the question – not for the first time – of where Key’s loyalties really lie?

While an Australian parliamentary enquiry has called for a foreign buyers’ register – and our government remains determinedly antipathetic to the notion – in Australia, non-resident buyers are not allowed to buy existing homes, only new ones… on the basis, the thinking goes, at least this way they are not competing with first home owners for existing properties. This still raises the fundamental question of whether the increasing Chinese buy-up of our farmland, our companies, and our valuable strategic assets is really in the best interest of New Zealanders?

Do we need a long spoon indeed, dining so cosily with this economic powerhouse increasing its military spending to a staggering extent, and harbouring a world-view which should make us very wary?

What about others who have been targeted by this thoroughly brutalised regime? Ask the Falun Gong forcibly detained in prison camps, their live organs removed for transplants, as verified in an independent reputable Canadian investigation. Ask Dr David Goodman of St Vincent’s hospital, Melbourne, who as recently as 2013 told a reporter from Fairfax media that there is a bank of live, involuntary donors in China whose organs are earmarked for harvesting, and that the number vastly exceeds that of those Chinese convicted of capital crimes and awaiting execution.

The reporter from Fairfax Media asked Dr. Goodman about organ tourism, if he “had ever had dialysis patients disappear, only to reappear two weeks later with a scar on their torsos.” “Multiple times,” Dr. Goodman replied.” About five years ago a whole cluster of them went off to China together and returned with transplanted kidneys. The donors were convicts about to be executed and the blood and tissue types had already been matched.”

Australia’s News Weekly on May 11, 2013, published an article written by Jeffry Babb, a Melbourne-based writer recently returned from a tour of South East Asia, on May 11, 2013. The title of the article – “Human Rights: China’s grisly organ theft: the crime our shame:” stated that “No-one one leaves this butcher’s shop alive; that one talks about it. Nobody know how many of China’s Falun Gong practitioners have been subject to “involuntary organ harvesting”… which can only be supplied if donors are ‘slaughtered to order’ and their organs removed while they are still alive.”

Where did these large numbers of organs come from? Reportedly, Australian patients never realized they had been customers of the “killing on demand” of prisoners for their organs. “The Chinese régime executes 2000 to 3000 prisoners on death row each year. Their published data show that in 2005, there were 20,000 organ transplants; in 2008, there were 86,800 kidney transplants, 14,643 liver transplants, far more than the number of death row inmates.”

Babb noted that the Chinese people themselves have a very well-developed sense of justice and fair play, that for very many years “members of China’s Mandarin class of ruling bureaucrats were selected through competitive examinations open to any talented candidate in China. The sole criterion was merit.

“Today, China is governed by a venal and self-perpetuating élite called the Chinese Communist Party. Eventually, one of the tens of thousands of “mass incidents” that occur in China every year will spark a conflagration, and this evil empire will topple….”

Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, Professor of Medicine, Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Sydney and a contributor to State Organs:Transplant Abuse in China, said, “Killing someone to sell their organs for transplantation… is a violation of the most basic human right – the right to life itself.” And on December 2, 2013, many doctors and attendees of the 12th Congress of the International Society of Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP) signed the petition to help stop forced organ harvesting in China.

The word “evil” no doubt makes liberal theorists uneasy. Yet the evidence is as great as ever that it is as much a reality in human affairs as it has ever been. Mr Hosking, who apparently likes to throw around the word xenophobic, directing it at those asking very real concerns about whether we are being virtually colonised by Communist China, needs to think more deeply about these issues. ..”

Moreover, in http://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/features/why-beijings-troubles-could-get-lot-worse, a prominent Chinese scholar, Anne Stevenson-Yang, expresses her exasperation with the lazy analysis by Western media (we can include New Zealand journalists here) in relation to the real situation in China. “As for Xi’s much-ballyhooed anti-corruption campaign inside China, it offends me that international media depict it as a good-governance effort. What’s really going on is an old-style Party purge reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s with quota-driven arrests, summary trials, mysterious disappearances, and suicides, which has already entrapped, by our calculations, 100,000 Party operatives and others. The intent is not moral purification by the Xi administration but instead the elimination of political enemies and other claimants to the economy’s spoils.”

What is our democracy worth if the toughest questions in politics are thought best avoided – while we cuddle up closer to this thoroughly undemocratic country whose government’s values are the antithesis to those held by New Zealanders?

I’m reminded of Dante’s “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

Should John Key’s government be showing all the signs of moral neutrality towards Communist China, and sheer indifference to what is happening to brave and good people there?

© Amy Brooke – join us to help support our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand campaign. www.100days.co.nz and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/100daystodemocracy