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Monday, April 09, 2007

NZ: Blinkered by the Beijing boys

Is New Zealand pro-Beijing?

The Dominion Post | Tuesday, 10 April 2007 - Just a hint of Falun Gong, Taiwan, Tibet, or protests about lack of democracy, organ harvesting, human rights or cruelty to bears, and the boys from Beijing wave the big stick. The difference now is that China knows exactly what it is doing, and is well aware of Western sensitivities, but, to use the Australian vernacular, it doesn't give a rat's arse....

It doesn't matter to Beijing that the New Zealand Government, police, officials or local body mayors might be embarrassed by the fallout from their demands. Those hiccups in a country the size of a Chinese village don't even show as a blip on the Beijing radar. The all-important thing is that none of their ministers or officials should suffer loss of face at home. If that happens then heads roll….

The Auckland mayors, who last week boycotted, under instruction, the Divine Performing Arts show of ancient Chinese culture, will no doubt argue that they were also acting in the country's best interests, though the cynical will consider the potential loss of sister city status, and all those international junkets, would have been a compelling factor...

While the Government, mayors, and MFAT prostrate themselves to avoid any offence to the inner kingdom, United Future leader Peter Dunne is a lone critic. He said the pressure on Auckland mayors over the dance troupe was a "reprehensible intervention". Three years ago he accused the Chinese Embassy of "bullying" when they told him off for attending the inauguration of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian. Former prime minister Jim Bolger had the guts to send the right message during the visit of the Dalai Lama in 1994. When the Chinese Embassy criticised the visit and demanded it be low key, Mr Bolger promptly upgraded the event and it went ahead with full bells and whistles. (more)

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