Soybeans or Hamburgers?

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THE DEEPENING CONFLICT between the United States and China is rapidly reducing New Zealand’s room for diplomatic manoeuvre. The fleeting visit by America’s newly-minted Secretary of Defence, James Esper, only reinforced how tight things are getting in this part of the world. New Zealanders would be wise to draw a sharp lesson from the fact that Esper’s first trip as Defence Secretary was not to the United Kingdom or Europe – hitherto the United States most important allies – but to Australia and New Zealand. This is where the action is now.

We should also take note of the threatening language of Esper’s travelling companion, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who earlier this week told an Australian audience that the countries of the Asia-Pacific region needed to decide, and quickly, whether or not they intended to “sell their souls for a pile of soybeans, or protect their country.” When the man in charge of American diplomacy talks like this, it is hardly surprising to see stockmarkets plunging.

Pompeo and Esper are so rabid that even Scotty Morrison is running scared. When the Americans suggested that Australia, as part of the United States new “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, should consider stationing US-made long-range ballistic missiles in its Northern Territory, the Australian Prime Minister backed away from the suggestion as if it was an unexploded bomb. Which, diplomatically-speaking, is what it was!

From the perspective of Beijing, these latest eruptions of US rhetorical aggression are being interpreted as proof of its intention to impose upon the Peoples Republic the same “Policy of Containment” that the post-war Truman Administration imposed on the Soviet Union. The US military’s Indo-Pacific Strategy intends to ring China with enemies while simultaneously weakening its economy, disrupting its diplomatic relationships, and sowing discord among its huge and increasingly restive population.

While the Western media covers the Hong Kong protests sympathetically, those pledged to preserve China’s national security are watching these events unfold with growing alarm. Their strengthening ties with the Russian Federation will, almost certainly, be manifesting themselves in an ongoing dialogue about the true nature of what is unfolding on the streets of the former British colony. After all, the Russians have seen it all before.

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On the streets of Belgrade, Tiblisi and Kiev, the Russians have observed the same mass protests. Spearheaded by young people demanding democracy. Pursuing objectives that shift and twist as they are constantly ratcheted upwards into radical demands that cannot be met within the existing political and/or constitutional constraints. Beginning peacefully, but intensifying into running street battles. Forcing the police to escalate the application of repressive force – often to the point of tragedy. Such were the “Colour Revolutions” that toppled the governments of Serbia, Georgia and the Ukraine. All of them, according to the spooks in Moscow, “Made in the USA”.

The parallels with the Hong Kong protests are remarkable, and they will certainly not have escaped the notice of China’s national security apparatus. Obviously, the Hong Kong unrest will not bring down the Chinese Government, but if this “Black Revolution” is indeed the work of the same colour revolutionaries that detached Russia’s satellites, then downfall is unlikely to be the objective. Forcing the deployment of the Peoples Liberation Army, with all its attendant potential for human, diplomatic and financial disaster, may be the real goal. And with every passing day, that eventuality becomes more and more likely.

The loss of Hong Kong as a world financial and transportation hub would severely damage the Chinese economy at a time when it is already fragile. Overloaded with debt; beset by Trump’s tariffs; restrained by diminishing global demand; China’s economy could be sent reeling by even a temporary Hong Kong lock-down. Knowing that the United States would not hesitate to rub salt into such an open economic wound will only be making the Chinese authorities even more paranoid.

Such, then, is the diplomatic context in which New Zealand is being forced to operate. The United States expects us to play a full and active role (alongside the Australians) in prosecuting its new Indo-Pacific Strategy. The Chinese would prefer us to join in their “One Belt, One Road” global enterprise – as befits a nation so dependant on the Chinese economy for its prosperity.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has worked tirelessly to remain on good terms with both the Eagle and the Dragon. The relationship between Beijing and Wellington, which underwent a sudden deterioration in the opening weeks of 2019 had, thanks to the PM’s patient diplomacy, been restored to a state of reasonably good health. Sadly, a great deal of that good work has been undone by her maverick foreign minister, Winston Peters.

The Chinese watch Peters very closely, especially when he is in the company of powerful Americans. They have noted the hawkish content of his speeches – especially those delivered on American soil. Likewise his sudden adoption of the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ in preference to ‘Asia-Pacific’. The latter term speaks of a New Zealand content to play a modest but constructive role in its immediate geopolitical neighbourhood. ‘Indo-Pacific’, by contrast, represents a vow of fealty to the United States and its new policy of ‘containing’ the Peoples Republic.

One can readily imagine Beijing’s reaction when news of Peters’ private dinner-party with Secretary of Defence Esper reached Chinese ears. It is rare indeed for an American Cabinet Minister to dine alone with a leading New Zealand politician at his private residence. One can only guess as to the identity of the caterers, and at what might have been included on the menu. If there are any flies in the service of Chinese Intelligence, then you may be sure that at least one of them was on the wall of Peters’ home in Auckland’s St Mary’s Bay on Monday night.

And if Jacinda has any bugs she can trust, then it is to be hoped that they were also listening to the Esper-Peters tête-à-tête. Forewarned is forearmed, they say. Except, they don’t usually say it about the actions of people on your own side.

 

28 COMMENTS

  1. Dictatorshit or Democracy? Only a traitor or a foreign Lebensraum-seeking colonist would consider the former, even for a microsecond 😉

  2. “sell their souls for a pile of soybeans, or protect their country.” , too late! This horse bolted some time ago. The transition from primary to secondary or tertiary productive sectors which would make us more independent of either side is still not anywhere in sight, except for a small minority of success stories. This is despite many knowledgeable people begging for this over the years. In this world there are value makers or value takers. Unfortunately over the past thirty years we have set ourselves up to take what we can get. We no longer have many viable options, other than to sit on the fence.

    • Alan: “…primary to secondary or tertiary productive sectors which would make us more independent of either side is still not anywhere in sight, except for a small minority of success stories. This is despite many knowledgeable people begging for this over the years.”

      Prior to the ravages of Rogernomics, we in NZ had the beginnings of it. We had local industries: F&P whiteware was possibly the best in the world. We have a freezer – bought in 1974 and still going strong – made by F&P. Our fridge – bought at the same time – finally died about 10 years ago. Our original F&P washer – also bought in 1974 – lasted until 1989. And we gave away our still-functioning drier (bought at same time as washer) in 1989.

      Nowadays, the techie, whom I am obliged to call out frequently to fix our not-particularly-old whiteware, has advised me to avoid new appliances, which are even less reliable than ones we now have. I’m on the lookout for an old Shacklock automatic cooker; but I want a white one, not old gold or burgundy!

      So: in the early 1980s, we had the foundations of a secondary and tertiary sector. But all of it was lost in the 1980s, as the Rogernomics bulldozer flattened the economy. I’m not sure that – so long afterward – the foundational stuff can be resurrected.

      “In this world there are value makers or value takers. ”

      Yup. And Rogernomics turned us into the latter. As with the development of a secondary and tertiary sector, I wonder if it’s too late to turn the ship around.

      “We no longer have many viable options, other than to sit on the fence.”

      Indeed. Certainly no economic or military clout. We’re like the mouse, which needs to keep out of the way when the bulls fight, lest it gets trampled.

  3. Hong Kong under British occupation had no Democratic structure. Now under China again it has a special arrangement with elements of democracy allowing election of local leaders.

    The made In USA protest and the USA founded institutions grown in Hong Kong, all follow a familiar patter of unrest, paid protesters, violence and guns.

    This makes no sense as local democratic determination is greater in Hong Kong than when under Britain .

    Our news / US propaganda never mentions this.

    The USA as a terrorist organisation, uses illegal trade sanctions, military threats and invasion to capture world resources. The language of their propaganda is heard on RNZ every day.
    Occasionally the Chinese opinion is expressed but their is hardly a balance.

    The USA wants to control Europe, the Middle East, South America, Korea and Japan, many parts of Africa, and now the China seas and close neighbours will com under draconian pressure for politicians to comply with the aggressive territory and resource grabbing adventurism. It has surrounded Russia and China with missile bases.

    New Zealand should remain independent.

    NZ first has Winston but more significantly Ron Marks who is a part of the military symapthisers with strong links to US / NZ military. Ron Marks will not ever be independent.

    • They had no democratic voice under the UK, but were granted one under the 50 year agreement.

      There is understandable fear that this is being eroded step by step rather than being maintained for the full 50 year period as per the agreement.

    • Well said. The US has a long history of using proxies to forward its goal of world domination. Elements of the MSM is also used to spread propaganda about the threat from China and Russia that only exists in so much as these powerful nations are seeking to promote their interests. Nothing the US does not do every single day and has done for decades. Often in a very heavy handed and often bloody way too.

      Its losing ground now and of course its can’t have that but the reality is it will happen whether it likes it or not. And yes NZ should remain independent but that requires we all make sensible choices when we vote and demand government that puts our interests first. Not that I have seen much that gives me cause for optimism on that front.

    • The US is without doubt the lessor of the two evils – The PRC is North Korea’s ‘enabler’ and live organ harvesting in China is the Auschwitz of the modern era.

      • James Brown: “The US is without doubt the lessor of the two evils – The PRC is North Korea’s ‘enabler’ and live organ harvesting in China is the Auschwitz of the modern era.”

        Oh please! For all our sakes, read the sceptical perspectives here and stop accepting propaganda uncritically. I’m surprised that there’s anyone coming to blogsites like this one, who still takes what the MSM reports as if it were gospel.

        See this: https://off-guardian.org/2019/07/12/30-years-after-tiananmen-square-the-u-s-is-still-trying-to-destabilize-china/

        And this: https://off-guardian.org/2019/05/07/the-china-hoax-is-china-being-framed/

        There are many other dissenting views online; have a hunt around. You’ll find them.

        • D’Esterre – So I am to disbelieve the ‘MSM sources’ that I apparently rely on and instead believe the ones that you suggest for me?

          A little arrogant perhaps? As with I imagine with almost everyone else in the world I am familiar with The Guardian thanks and read it most days.

          Re forced organ harvesting I take it that you have a better understanding of this than the European Parliament when in 2012 “it passed a resolution expressing deep concern over the persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, as well as from members of other religious and ethnic minority groups”?

          • Reports mean little and such verbage is often used to launch and attack on a situation which has minimal evidence of existence.

            Rumours of all sorts of evils are abound. The hard evidence cannot be hearsay, if it is to have credibility.

    • John W: “Hong Kong under British occupation had no Democratic structure. Now under China again it has a special arrangement with elements of democracy allowing election of local leaders.”

      Exactly. I remember the lead-up to the HK handover; knew people from HK at that time. Patton and his government came in for swingeing criticism over the UK’s hypocrisy in demanding a form of democracy for HK; yet in all the years it had been a UK colony, no moves toward democracy had ever been made.

      “The made In USA protest and the USA founded institutions grown in Hong Kong, all follow a familiar patter of unrest, paid protesters, violence and guns.”

      It looks exactly like the violent and notorious “colour” revolutions of eastern Europe. That will, of course, be because that’s exactly what it is.

      “The USA as a terrorist organisation, uses illegal trade sanctions, military threats and invasion to capture world resources. The language of their propaganda is heard on RNZ every day.”

      Ain’t that the truth! And the propaganda on RNZ is as relentless as it’s ever been, for as long as I can remember, going all the way back to the 1950s.

      “The USA wants to control Europe, the Middle East, South America, Korea and Japan, many parts of Africa, and now the China seas and close neighbours will com under draconian pressure for politicians to comply with the aggressive territory and resource grabbing adventurism. It has surrounded Russia and China with missile bases.”

      It’ll be more difficult than ever for NZ to resist being dragged into the anti-China stuff. I note that Anne Marie Brady was interviewed on RNZ in the last couple of days, doing her bit for Uncle Sam. Though she doesn’t confine herself to anti-China propaganda: we get a side order of Russophobia. Faugh…. a pox on these people!

      • The reality is the US is the primary threat to world security from its unhinged aggression towards China and simultaneously many other countries, including Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Syria.

  4. The US does not want to loose its little colonies in Oceania. Small wonder they are getting itchy feet with China making the rounds of smaller weaker nations with its own financial and trade overtures.

    Of course this is simply history repeating itself as imperial powers clash for dominance on the world stage. The reality is the US is a slowly fading power that’s being replaced by up and coming nations like China and to a lesser extent Russia. Both have substantial natural resources and their currency is backed by Gold not oil.

    What will happen next is hard to say but I’m guessing it wont be pretty.

  5. The question that needs to be asked – is it Russia, or Iran, or China that the USA is trying to contain and for what purpose?

    If they say all 3, then this is all of a hubris that will end in tears.

    Only one poses an existential threat to the major power/s in the world being democratic – and that is China by becoming the dominant economic and military power on earth. And that is something the free world may well want to contain, if not confront.

    But for containment to be effective would require a better relationship with Russia. And also more confidence that the project to remake/divide and conquer the Arab/Moslem ME (pro Zionist work of end time religion evangelicals in the GOP) will not result in another ruinous war and or closure of the Persian Gulf to oil trade.

  6. Informative and rational Post for our consideration @ CT. Thank you.
    Nothing, of the above, surprises me about peters.
    Can I ask? Where’s the Crown in all this? They’re still our head of state after all. ( No disrespect to Maori intended.)
    Why is this situation, and us generally, so yank-centric? ‘merrrica this and ‘merrrica that. I’m fucking sick of it, and them.
    America, or at least its politics, seem to me to be based upon narcissism, fake, facade, arrogance, puff and hot air and I can’t remember a conflict ( Which they most often started where there was none to make a buck for the Zionist war industry. ) where they didn’t get their arses kicked.
    Imagine trump during a fierce and likely nuclear conflict? He’d bugger off to play golf.
    Me? I’m having an existential crises! Must cuddle dog!
    P.S. winston peters is a crook. In my opinion. Based upon many years of careful observation both real and imaginary.

  7. NZ government needs to be independent from both China and US while maintaining cordial relations with both.

    Previous Labour said no to nukes to the world including the US and long term that actually increased NZ standing in the international community.

    NZ helped China become a global capital/communist power with one of the first with a free trade agreements. I’m not sure how much that has helped the people of China but it has certainly helped it’s government gain economic power into other nations.

    Previously NZ governments have been quite ground breaking so it is sad that for the past decade including the current Labour government coalition they are more sycophants around the world doing what ever they can to sell some milk powder and butter, meanwhile not noticing they didn’t sell the cow, they sold the farm.

    One of the scariest issues also facing the rest of the world is Russia trialling the first floating nuclear power plant with apparently sales to China in the pipe line.

    “5 reasons why a floating nuclear power plant in the Arctic is a terrible idea

    This enormous monstrosity is the world’s first purpose-built floating nuclear power plant. It’s now bound for the Arctic.

    No, we’re not joking. No, this isn’t science fiction. This is really happening.

    Rosatom, the Russian state-controlled nuclear giant, is launching the “Akademik Lomonosov”, the first of its kind, into the world. It’s currently being towed through the Baltic sea, where it will go all around Scandinavia to Murmansk, to be fuelled and tested, before it heads off on a 5,000 km journey through the Arctic. They plan on building and selling more plants like these to other countries, like China, Indonesia, and Sudan.”

    https://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/story/5-reasons-why-a-floating-nuclear-power-plant-in-the-arctic-is-a-terrible-idea/?fbclid=IwAR0VWHby_OiQE4hDqSYdPED6o8tJmlk90_93jYx11BhTzomrtJ15GHvxnR0

  8. You sure spun a yarn out of that dinner date, Chris. Maybe you’ve been reading too much John LeCarre or Robert Ludlum or something? You will be giving any NZer who reads this delusions of our national significance! A few numbskulls with some sheep in the south sea island? Trivial on the Risk board. You may enjoy crafting dire short stories out of this crap but it means nothing, because we’re no one.

  9. One of those two countries will take NZ as a “protectorate” one day (unless Australia takes us first). As climate change disrupts their food production, NZ sitting in the goldilocks zone with little in the way of defence will become another Tibet or Puerto Rico. We won’t have any choice in the matter.

  10. It’s complicated.

    The HK riots have nothing to do with the USA. They were prompted by the Communist Party’s push to be able to ‘extradite’ dissenters from HK to the mainland. Where ‘extradite’ means arrest without trial, torture and ultimately murder anyone it dislikes. I salute those brave young men & women on the streets – I hope they have a better outcome than those in Tienanmen Square.

    The current pissing match between China and the USA is about China’s trade and currency manipulation. The parallels are not to be found in the Cold War but with its 1980’s dispute with Japan. In those days Japan played the same game as China is today. It deployed unofficial trade barriers to prevent anyone exporting goods to Japan that might compete with Japanese equivalents. It also pegged its currency low and ran a massive surplus against the USA. The Americans informed the Japanese that they had to play by the rules or they would face tariffs and they capitulated. Since that time the Japanese economy has gone nowhere: 30 years of deflation.

    So it will be with China. Without US exports it is screwed and the Communist Party may face a revolution. Meanwhile the USA doesn’t need Chinese exports; in fact it may benefit US manufacturers and create jobs.

  11. Totally agree with all three of your replies John W and your reply also D’Esterre, i suggest people spend a little time researching Anne Marie Brady’s history and the american institutions she has affiliations with. As for rnz national radio, the joke perpetrated by the right that the station is left leaning, when all day every day, is filled with american “experts”and retired nato generals etc. all wanting to start world war three. It tends to make me wonder why we do not seem to have any of our own specialists capable of independent thought??? (excluding the ubiquitous Buchannan.)

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