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Cuddling up to China is damaging our reputation

28 June 2005

Cuddling up to China is damaging our reputation

The Labour Government should suspend free trade talks with China in protest at Beijing propping up Robert Mugabe's genocidal regime, the Green Party says.

The Times of London has today reported that China has thrown a lifeline to the beleaguered regime of President Robert Mugabe, offering Zimbabwe economic assistance and diplomatic support against the West.

"It's a bad look for New Zealand to be negotiating a free trade agreement with China when its President Hu Jintao has just described Robert Mugabe as a 'respected old friend'," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald says.

"New Zealand's international reputation will be damaged if our Government continues to cuddle up to a man who is financially backing Mugabe's operation 'Drive Out Trash', which the United Nations has labelled a 'disastrous venture that has left 700,000 people homeless or jobless'.

China has rebuffed New Zealand's call for it not to support Mugabe's campaign of destruction with an unequivocal statement that it 'adheres to the principle of not meddling in other countries' internal affairs'.

"This makes a lie of our government's claim that China's labour and environmental standards will be under scrutiny as part of free trade negotiations," Mr Donald says.

"The Chinese regime has an appalling record of human rights abuses that have inflicted pain and suffering on its own citizens and the people of Tibet. That is why President Hu has such an affinity with Mugabe. It's clear that China is more interested in getting its hands on Zimbabwe's mineral wealth and gaining a strangle-hold on that county's economy than trading fairly with New Zealand.

"The New Zealand Government should have the courage to stand up to tyrants. We certainly should not give them preferential access to our economy.

"New Zealand is already far too reliant on China for a wide range of basic products that we should be making ourselves, instead of importing from their sweatshops.

"Statistics New Zealand announced yesterday that our trade deficit with China increased by $500 million for the year to June 30 and now stands at over $2 billion."

ENDS

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