Q+A: Rodney Jones interviewed by Corin Dann
Beijing-based economist Rodney Jones interviewed by Corin Dann
On the New Zealand government’s move to block a proposal by Spark to use Chinese telco Huawei’s equipment in a 5G mobile network:
“This is a private company according to the official Chinese position. It’s very hard for them, and they— you know, it’s not like New Zealand companies are open to participate in the Chinese economy. We do so at the Chinese government’s discretion. So it’s very hard for China to really complain, and, in terms of retaliation, China needs food. Food inflation’s running high, they’ve got swine flu affecting their pork stock, and they’ve got the soybean issue with the US. I wouldn’t worry about a China reaction.”
On tension in the South China Sea:
“Well, let’s go back to when John Key was Prime Minister. His position was that the South China Sea was not a significant issue. We made one comment, I think. We did not see the South China Sea as a significant issue. As Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir said to our Prime Minister last week, or two weeks ago, the South China Sea is a real issue, and China has militarised, and it is a threat to stability and peace in the region. So the calls we made a few years ago were wrong. We got those wrong, and if you get things wrong, you need to adapt and you need to adjust, and this is part of that process.”
On the relationship between China and New Zealand moving forward:
“China faces complex choices, complex decisions, and are going to be much more domestically focused. We’ve had such a great run, but as China matures and grows and faces new challenges, we can’t assume things stay the same.”
On China’s policy in Xinjiang to detain Muslim minorities:
“We’re a little fearful in our positioning. When the 14 ambassadors from major western economies, countries, experience concern about Xinjiang and what’s happening there, we were silent. Now, New Zealand’s history is not to be silent of things that matter. We weren’t silent on French testing in the Pacific, we weren’t silent on South Africa – in the end, it took us a while to get there. But today, we’re completely silent, and the Prime Minister talks about kindness as a national attribute, but part of kindness is empathy, and yet, we have no empathy with what’s happening to the people in Xinjiang, and we’re not expressing that. So our policy does have a feel where we’re lost, it’s not consistent with our values, and we’re too fearful. The word that came up over and over this week was “fear”. People were afraid of China’s reaction, and that’s not a good position to be in.”
On not being afraid to speak up against China:
“Well, the US has changed, and it’s changed under Trump, but that US positioning, once Trump is gone – and he will be gone either in 2020 or 2024, preferably earlier – when he is gone, that US positioning will persist. This will last beyond Trump, and that’s what we need to understand. We see what’s happening in the US as aligned with Trump and a consequence of Trump. It’s not. It’s a deeper disillusionment with the direction that Xi Jinping has taken China, and so the US-China relationship will be different, but by trying to sit on the fence, we’re not preparing for that different world. Which is what we want to do, we’ve had an independent policy since we left ANZUS in ’85, we need to be firming up that independence, speaking articulately, expressing ourselves, and being critical of both US and China when that’s called for. At the moment, we’re critical of Trump and we never speak on China.”
Please find the transcript attached and the full interview here.
Q+A, 9:30pm Sundays on TVNZ 1 and one hour later on TVNZ 1 + 1.
Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz
Thanks to the support from NZ On Air.