Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

New Zealand - The Not-So-Plucky Little Country

Dunne Speaks: New Zealand - The Not-So-Plucky Little Country


New Zealand likes to portray itself as a small and nimble trading nation, with its own will when it comes to foreign policy, and doing deals in our nation's self-interest. According to the narrative, we are the plucky nation at the end of the world, determinedly making our way in an increasingly turbulent environment, always "punching above our weight" (as that simply ghastly phrase goes), never afraid to say what we mean, and prepared to stand up for it. It has a whiff of naive innocence and old-fashioned derring-do about it, which, although endearing, is simply not true.

No, our country has an unerring ability to put all our eggs in one basket, and then wonder why things do not turn out quite as expected. When Britain announced in 1959 that it wanted to join the then European Economic Community, we were the country that refused to believe it was happening, despite the nearly 15 years that were to pass before Britain eventually joined Europe in 1973. And when the penny slowly dropped and reality dawned, we spent the latter half of the 1960s and the early 1970s trying to negotiate special annual access deals for our agricultural exports. (The ultimate futility of this approach - the so-called New Zealand "Special Case" - was put into perspective for me once in Ireland when a particularly hostile Agriculture Minister told me that if I could convince the farmers in his largely rural constituency that they should sacrifice some of their prosperity to protect the interests of farmers 12,000 miles away, then he would back New Zealand's case in Brussels.)



After Britain joined the EEC, we tried to diversify markets and latched upon Iran as a likely trading partner, on a "dairy for oil" basis, only to have that blown out of the water by the 1973 and 1979 Oil Shocks, and the overthrow of our then new best friend, the Shah. Then we lurched on to "dairy for Ladas" deals with the old Soviet Union, only to have those deals crumble as the Soviet Union disintegrated.

Now, we have discovered China, concluding about ten years ago the first free trade China has made with any country. Bilateral relations between the two countries have become extremely close, to the worrying extent that other traditional partners are now showing concern that our ties to the world's largest nation are making us somewhat of a soft "underbelly".

The problem is that in pursuing a strong economic relationship with China, which is very good for our exporters and economic prosperity, we have inevitably sacrificed some of our soul. For example, China is one of the world's leading death-penalty states, yet allegedly fearless, human rights upholding New Zealand stays "relentlessly" silent on the frequency with which China executes its citizens, for paralysed fear of upsetting her.

And the appalling way we treat Taiwan - one of the strongest democracies in the region, and a stark contrast to China in this regard - is a long-standing national disgrace. It is absolutely proper for China to assert that Taiwan is not an independent country, but a renegade province and inalienable part of China, that they, by peaceful means, wish to recover. But that is an issue between China and Taiwan. Other countries are free to make up their own minds. It is not right for China to bully other nations to see the issue the way it does, and to expect those nations to comply, because China says so. Here is the rank hypocrisy: although Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with only a small and diminishing group of countries, virtually every country, including plucky, brave independent New Zealand, maintains extensive backdoor quasi diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and in reality treats it as a de facto, separate country from China, but dares not say so.

Yet, in a rare brave move on the trade front, New Zealand did conclude a free trade agreement with Taiwan during the term of the previous government, but it now needs to back that up with some political bravery to give even a shred of substance to the romantic story we like to tell about ourselves.

The Chinese basket may be the biggest yet, but the eggs within it are just as breakable as those we have put in other baskets over the years. Sadly, we seem unwilling to learn any lessons from the last 50 years or so, and so appear pig-headedly destined to repeat all the same mistakes, and suffer the same mishaps, all over again.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Mosque Attack: No Mention Of Right-Wing Threat In 10 Years Of GCSB/SIS Docs


Jane Patterson for RNZ: There is not one specific mention of the threat posed by white supremacists or right-wing nationalism in 10 years of public documents from the Security Intelligence Service or the GCSB. More>>

Two Minute Silence Friday: Auckland Mosques Opening Their Doors To All
Mosques in the four corners of Auckland will open their doors on Friday night for people of all faiths to gather in remembrance of the 50 lives lost in the Christchurch shootings. More>>

Parliament's Condolences: PM's Statement On Christchurch Mosques Terror Attack
Al salam Alaikum. Peace be upon you. And peace be upon all of us.
Mr Speaker the 15th of March will now forever be a day etched in our collective memories... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why The Government Shouldn't Run The Christchurch Massacre Inquiry
At Cabinet yesterday, the promised changes to our gun laws cleared their first hurdle. According to PM Jacinda Ardern, Cabinet agreed collectively “in principle” on a set of proposals to change New Zealand’s gun laws... Yesterday, Ardern also announced an inquiry into the background to the mosque attacks and into the role played by the SIS, GCSB, Police, Customs, and Immigration. More>>

SCOOP COVERAGE: CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERROR ATTACK
For the Latest: Scoop Search - Christchurch
 

Gordon Campbell: On The School Climate Strike

Locally, the school strike has won a ton of support for bringing climate change to the fore. Yet the strikers don't want mere expressions of support. They want action. More>>

ALSO:

"Grabbed And Struck In The Face": Greens Co-Leader Attacked While Walking To Work

Green Party co-leader James Shaw was the victim of an unprovoked attack when he was walking to work in Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

████████ ████ ███: Latest OIA Statistics Released

The latest statistics cover 110 agencies that collectively completed 18,106 official information requests between July and December 2018, a 16.4% increase on the 15,551 requests for the previous six months. More>>

ALSO:

'Hit And Run' Inquiry: New Legal Action Over Secrecy

The lawyer representing the Afghan villagers in the inquiry into Operation Burnham has launched legal proceedings calling for a judicial review in the investigation. More>>

ALSO:

From Hydro Plan To...: Mokihinui River Land To Join Kahurangi National Park

A total of 64,400 hectares of conservation land in the Mokihinui River catchment on the West Coast north of Westport, including 15 km of riverbed, is being added to Kahurangi National Park. “Adding this area, roughly half the size of Auckland City, to Kahurangi is the largest addition of land to an existing national park in New Zealand’s history,” Eugenie Sage said. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels