people notice

April 16th, 2012

So I may have ranted too soon. Hardly a surprise. The NZ Herald and Stuff have published an opinion piece by Jia Qinglin on his visit to NZ. I’ve only glanced at what Stuff published, but it looks identical to what’s in the Herald.

It’s funny, cos the first half of what I read seemed to be almost verbatim translated quotations from Chinese-language articles I read yesterday. The rest is pretty standard Chinese political speech, so far as I can tell.

But then I saw Russel Norman fly off the handle. And that’s really annoying because there is a lot of Green policy I really like, but as soon as talk turns to China, I find myself wondering which of several possible alternative realities the Green MPs and their staffers are living in. The prime example in this case:

Mr Jia, who will be at the Beehive this afternoon, called for New Zealand to provide a policy environment to make Chinese investment in New Zealand easier.

Mr Jia did not specifically mention the bid by Shanghai Pengxin for 16 Crafar farms in receivership, which is awaiting another ministerial decision, having been approved by ministers and then knocked back by the High Court.

But he said: “China also encourages capable and credible Chinese companies to invest in New Zealand.

“We hope New Zealand will provide them with an enabling policy environment and facilitate Chinese investment so as to scale up two-way investment and achieve all-round and balanced growth in our business ties.”

Which Norman characterises as:

a clear challenge to the sovereignty of the New Zealand Government, no less than the United States challenge over nuclear weapons in the 1980s

ummmm… what?

The issue with the US was US opposition to an enactment of a law forbidding nuclear weapons and nuclear powered naval vessels from New Zealand territory, even though that law was passed by a democratically elected government with the support of a majority of the New Zealand people, and a law which every other nuclear power has managed to respect while still sending naval vessels on official visits to New Zealand. What Jia Qinglin wrote under the title The Free Trade Agreement was:

New Zealand leads the developed countries in growing business ties with China. It is the “first” or the “only” country in many ways in doing business with China. New Zealand was the first Western developed country to conclude bilateral negotiation with China on China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, the first to recognize China’s full Market Economy Status and the first to sign and implement a bilateral free trade agreement with China.

It was also the first country to sign and implement a free trade arrangement with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China. This makes New Zealand the only country with free trade arrangements with both the mainland and Hong Kong of China.
Economic cooperation and trade has become the propeller and ballast of China-New Zealand relations.

The signing of the China-New Zealand FTA in 2008 brought about greater opportunities for growing our business ties. Thanks to the smooth implementation of the FTA, our bilateral trade has grown steadily despite continued uncertainties in the global economy. It has driven friendly exchanges and practical co-operation in various areas between the two countries and played an important role in facilitating economic and social progress and bringing benefits to people in our respective countries. Last year, the two-way trade reached $US8.723 billion, 970 times the figure at the time of the establishment of diplomatic relations 40 years ago.

China has become New Zealand’s second largest trading partner and export market and biggest source of imports. China is also New Zealand’s biggest export market of dairy products and logs.

In April last year, the two sides signed a bilateral local currency swap agreement, which has further facilitated two-way investment and trade.

Given the two countries’ industrial structure, resource endowment and market demand, China and New Zealand have a lot to offer each other and enjoy huge potential for co-operation.

The two sides need to continue to make good use of the FTA, the currency swap agreement and other co-operation documents and seek to meet ahead of schedule the trade target of $NZ20 billion by 2015 set by the leaders of the two countries.

While deepening co-operation in such traditional fields as agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry, we should actively explore new areas of mutually beneficial co-operation and expand co-operation in food safety, clean energy and infrastructure development.

China welcomes New Zealand companies to invest in China and will continue to provide them with a sound investment environment.

China also encourages capable and credible Chinese companies to invest in New Zealand.

We hope New Zealand will provide them with an enabling policy environment and facilitate Chinese investment so as to scale up two-way investment and achieve all-round and balanced growth in our business ties.

It’s amazing what happens when you put things in context, isn’t it? It’s not China demanding easy and open access to New Zealand. There’s no erosion of New Zealand sovereignty. This is not even remotely comparable with the US demanding that a democratically elected NZ government rescind a law supported by the NZ people. No. There’s an awful lot in there praising NZ engagement with China and encouraging NZ investment in China and further cooperation in both traditional and new fields.

Now, question all you want Jia’s honesty and sincerity. He is a politician, after all. But for crying out loud, so much of the hysteria surrounding the Shanghai Pengxin bid for the Crafar Farms, mentioned by Norman as he flew off the handle in the article linked above, had no basis in reality whatsoever. What is so hard about basing one’s arguments in fact?

Jia does openly call for easier Chinese investment in New Zealand. That’s his job.  But he also openly invites New Zealand investment in China. He does explicitly state that New Zealand has resources China wants – empty space and expertise in and a tradition of producing high quality, safe food, for example. But he equally explicitly states that China has resources and expertise New Zealand is after, or at least should be (infrastructure development, for example).

Comments are closed.