Authoritarian Friends and Democratic Enemies

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ACCEPTING AUTHORITARIANISM is challenging. For New Zealanders especially, raised in one of the world’s oldest democracies, official hostility to political liberty is difficult to comprehend. Likewise the carefully organised suppression of individuals and groups deemed hostile to the state. We bridle at the brutality and injustice that characterise authoritarian regimes. “Something must be done!”, we cry. “Cease trading with these butchers! Boycott their sports teams! Send their ambassador packing! Shut down their embassy!” As a means of letting off steam it’s a highly effective strategy. As a useful means of conducting diplomacy – not so much.

The People’s Republic of China, like practically all the previous iterations of Chinese sovereignty, going back nearly 4,000 years, is a rigorously authoritarian state. The Communist Party, within which all meaningful political activity in contemporary China takes place, prizes order and obedience no less than any of the country’s previous rulers. Accordingly, disorder and disobedience are met with swift and ruthless retribution. Though the tenets of Maoism no longer constitute the basis of CPC economic policy, Mao Zedong’s methods of keeping the Chinese people in line continue to be much admired – and emulated. Authoritarianism ensures that the continuities of Chinese history continue to greatly outnumber its discontinuities. The Chinese people would have it no other way.

How does this relate to the treatment of the Uighur people of Xinjiang? Why have the Chinese authorities gone to such extreme lengths to suppress the cultural and religious traditions of this far-flung ethnic minority? The simple answer: For precisely the same reasons the USA invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and is currently imposing swingeing economic sanctions upon Iran. Fear of Islamic extremism. Beijing is also deeply concerned about the opportunities for destabilisation which the spread of Islamic extremism offers China’s enemies.

Beijing looks westward and sees the new nation states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – all of them born out of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The home of the Uighurs, the “autonomous region” of Xinjiang borders no less than three of these Soviet successor states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Rightly or wrongly, Beijing is convinced that Uighur nationalism, allied with Islamic extremism, constitutes a clear and present danger to China’s territorial integrity – and, hence, to its national security. Sporadic outbreaks of nationalistic Uighur violence have only reinforced Beijing’s fears. The mass incarceration of Uighurs in specially constructed “re-education” complexes is the Communist Party’s profoundly authoritarian response.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Those Westerners affronted by Beijing’s actions should, however, ask themselves which is worse: China’s “re-education complexes”, or the hundreds-of-thousands of Afghans and Iraqis killed by the American military? They might also like to consider the moral calculus which allowed the USA to pour munitions into Syria while the country descended into a prolonged civil war which killed tens-of-thousands, displaced upwards of half the civilian population and provided the murderous ISIS “Caliphate” with a territorial base of operations. Beijing’s hope is to “educate” its Uighur citizens out of Islamic extremism; Washington’s preference is to deliver its “lessons” via drone strikes and proxy Jihadi fighters.

New Zealand diplomacy, if it has any meaningful role to play at all vis-à-vis the plight of the Uighurs, might consider working more closely with the Russian Federation which, while no friend of Islamic extremism, continues to have strong economic ties with the “Stans”. If Moscow could reassure Beijing that it would use its good offices to restrain nationalist and religious fervour in the territories adjoining Xinjiang, Beijing, in turn, might be persuaded to relax its iron grip on the Autonomous Region. Because Beijing has great respect for New Zealand’s record of diplomatic independence, the prospect of Jacinda Ardern assuming the role of “honest broker” would almost certainly return better dividends than shouting derogatory anti-Chinese slogans from the side-lines.

Such a course of action would obviously outrage our Five Eyes partners. The expectation of Washington, London and Canberra is that the Russians will, at all times, be treated as international pariahs. One has only to recall the severe “telling-off” administered to Foreign Minister Winston Peters when he dared to suggest that New Zealand and the Russian Federation could secure considerable mutual benefits by negotiating their own free trade agreement.

This scolding from our “friends” raises the question of what – exactly – New Zealand gains from its attachment to the Anglo-Saxon empire? After all, the Americans have consistently refused to admit our dairy products in anything like the quantities authorised by the NZ-China FTA. Perhaps the time has come to pose the question of whether or not the membership fee of the Anglo-Saxon “club” has grown too high for New Zealand to go on paying?

The thing for Kiwis to decide is what kind of empire they want to belong to. The kind that, while offering its own citizens democratic rights, demands absolute obedience from its “friends”? Or, the kind that, while authoritarian at home, takes a relaxed attitude to the domestic political arrangements of its economic “partners”? The United States is an empire of the first kind – and it is growing weaker. China belongs to the second kind and, within the next twenty years or so, seems certain to become the world’s richest and most powerful nation state – albeit an authoritarian one.

 

50 COMMENTS

  1. Chris; our answer to your question is this;
    My family has lived in the US and felt real freedom while being there, but we don’t think we would feel such freedom if we were allowed to buy property in china and dwell there as we did in the US, so we would rather be tied to US and not become a recipient of China’s quote; “swift and ruthless retribution.”

    Quote from Chris;
    “The Communist Party, within which all meaningful political activity in contemporary China takes place, prizes order and obedience no less than any of the country’s previous rulers. Accordingly, disorder and disobedience are met with swift and ruthless retribution.”

  2. “while offering its own citizens democratic rights”

    I agree with this column but think that there limits to the democratic rights of citizens of the United States, such as pushing hundreds of thousands of the electoral role, the Democrats undermining Bernie Sanders, and the influence of donor money on political decision making

  3. If China placed any stock in Russia managing the nations between NW China and Russia to reduce their security risk, China would have already approached Russia themselves.

  4. I was thinking NZ already has its bread buttered on both sides, as always — protection and security under the Five Eyes and its East Asian allies, plus unfettered trade and diplomacy with China, Russia, whomever.

  5. Great Post @ CT. Thanks.
    I have one word to use to add to your Post.
    That word is drugs. Yep. Drugs. Drugs,drugs, drugs. There. I’ve written it.
    You’ve seen a film titled ” The Men Who Stare At Goats”?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Men_Who_Stare_at_Goats_(film)
    Based on fact, so I read.
    Those whom rise to formidable positions of power, usually by any means, should never be allowed to be in positions of power.
    Billy Connelly might have been paraphrasing when he said ” People who want to become politicians should never be allowed to become one. ”
    The other common aspect of those whom think they have the right to dominate others, and to murder, torture and enslave them for their funny little reasons known only to them, are without doubt, when coldly compared to the rest of any society anywhere, quite mad.
    People who desperately motivate themselves to accumulate vast fortunes are too quite mad and the two points above are usually found in bed with each other. Rooting away, begetting mayhem and misery.
    The answer to that, in my opinion, is to get them high as a Rainbow coloured Condor.
    Good E or 3,4-Methyl enedioxy methamphetamine for those sticklers amongst you would be perfect. No one can plot to control and to kill in order to achieve power and status while loved-up on good E. No one.
    Similarly, LSD and wondrous psycillocybin found in certain kinds of mushrooms would work a treat on the mad fuckers who go shoot-crazy, and the even madder fuckers still who can buy coke and hookers using the money they made selling guns, bullets and bombs to even madder, mad fuckers to shoot kids on beaches with where normal people would be sun bathing and swimming.
    While pondering that; I think it’s a mistake therefore, to give ‘them’ the respect of dissecting their handwork as though they were sane and of a balanced mind.
    Crop dust them with Methylenedioxymethamphetamine then rain LSD down upon them from a squadron of those awesome jets used to spread fire retardant.
    Then…Then see if an Israeli soldier can stamp his/her boot down on a Palestinian kids heads as they scream and cry.
    And this is good. In my humble view.
    LSD and soldiers.
    ‘Wiped out as an attacking force’. There you go, see?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWodyapGNxI

    • The other common aspect of those whom think they have the right to dominate others, and to murder, torture and enslave them for their funny little reasons known only to them, are without doubt, when coldly compared to the rest of any society anywhere, quite mad.
      People who desperately motivate themselves to accumulate vast fortunes are too quite mad and the two points above are usually found in bed with each other. Rooting away, begetting mayhem and misery. Now let me think which country this best describes Countryboy

  6. Yes. I have thought it likely that NZ will become Chinese, by attrition, in my grandchildren’s lifetime. Any suggestion of choice is good, and USA cold-warring with Russia is not. Unfortunately we are strategically important to the USA. NZ facilitating a solution for the tragic Uighurs, just on its own, would be a splendid humanitarian achievement.

    The spin-off of a closer relationship with Russia, and what that may offer in terms of trade and friendship, almost certainly outweighs other concerns – and being as dependent as we currently seem to be on China as the major market for NZ exports, we may need to biff out public servants with limited or lethargic visions of possibilities for the future, and broaden our export base. We can do better than one egg in one basket.

    I have actually had conversations with whanau as to whether NZ would be better Chinese or Russian, and Russian seems to be not an uncomfortable notion. But if NZ is even just able to help Chinese Uighurs, then we should not hesitate because of any adolescent fears of questionable acquaintances.

  7. Thank you Chris for another reasoned common sense blog. Now i must get back to watching seal team 3 or another docco on how murrica won the invasion of Vietnam / Afghanistan / Syria / wherever, or some other mindless drivel.

  8. Thought-provoking.

    Chris, will your piece on the methamphetamine scourge, and your qualified support for Simon Bridges’ anti-gang approach, as read in today’s O.D.T., appear here and elsewhere? This is of more immediate importance to the health of NZ.

  9. Another good article by Mr Trotter.

    ————————————

    … ” New Zealand diplomacy, if it has any meaningful role to play at all vis-à-vis the plight of the Uighurs, might consider working more closely with the Russian Federation which, while no friend of Islamic extremism, continues to have strong economic ties with the “Stans”. If Moscow could reassure Beijing that it would use its good offices to restrain nationalist and religious fervour in the territories adjoining Xinjiang, Beijing, in turn, might be persuaded to relax its iron grip on the Autonomous Region ”…

    ————————————

    Now the average Joe and Joe-ess doesn’t have the same insight as Winston Peters,… whereas Peters has done a fair amount on foreign relations in his time. He is informed by adviser’s and specialists and thus is better placed to form an opinion. Peters knows his stuff. While the average Joe and Joe – ess just wants a simple answer so they can get back to watching Shorty St or whatever it is they do.

    And this is where we as a nation come in. By juxtaposing China and America with Russia, trade-wise, we detooth much of the angst of where we stand in the South Pacific debacle .We also provide much needed leverage in negotiations, diplomacy and trade. Which could even strengthen already existing ties with China on a more equal footing , open up the insular American market because, – Russia can be used as a bargaining chip.

    You want your 5 eyes in our country? , – treat us well. And dont expect us to always jump when you say so. Or think you can export your legal system here to extradite our nationals on flimsy trumped up charges such as is being attempted with Kim Dotcom. And attempting to buy up our ecologically sensitive lands for your bolt-holes . We also dont like your prison camps.

    You want your ‘ free trade deals ‘? , – then don’t get all hoity toity on us and start trying to shift the goal posts. And stop trying to put your spies in our parliament and University’s. And / or attempting to buy up our productive lands for your country’s benefit only. We also dont like your prison camps.

    Its called strategic thinking, – and Mr Trotter would be able to name the correct option, – it was either Sukarno or Suharto who was the master at playing one foreign country off against another. AND THAT’S THE WAY THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO BE.

    Which is what is hinted at if Russia were to promise the Chinese they can keep the ‘Stan’ nations moderate. And ‘moderate’ is the key. It is the violent extremists of any chalk or persuasion that all nations fear.

    We need to be ruthlessly thinking only of ourselves and our own interests FIRST. And thinking along these very same lines as mentioned above . This is not a bloody game, – this is geopolitics and our nations very sovereignty we are talking about here. We matter too !!!

    ANY international deal we enter into HAS to have tangible benefits to ALL people of NZ, – not just the same old few shyster swindler elites who have profited off the backs of the ever increasing lessening of the standard of living of their fellow citizens. And that means infrastructure, health, education , wages, – the lot .

    And dont say it cant be done.

    We currently have a ‘free trade deal’ with China and while they have lifted many of their own people out of poverty in the last decades – AND WHILE BEING A COMMUNIST STATE, – we now have mass homelessness, huge suicide rates, large unemployment , moldy hospitals, derelict schools and so on et al.

    Thank you neo liberalism,.. whose side are you really on , arseholes ?

    So, … a simple, surreptitious ( at first ) trade agreement with Russia would be enough to set the cat among the pigeons… the global corridors of power and their phones would be ringing hot . Little NZ would now be having a ‘third option’. ” My oh my,…what if they end up liking the Russians more than us ? ”…

    ” What about our 5 eye agreement ?!!? ”

    ” What about our milk, water and productive lands acquisitions ?!!?”

    ” WHAT ABOUT OUR ASPIRATIONS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC ?!!?”

    ————

    F@CK your warring shitty ASPIRATIONS !!! BOTH OF YOU !!!!

    Care for a Barynya dance with us instead ???….

  10. Do we have a problem with China rules, or Russia? Nope. The exception might be diplomatic and therefore, the economy. Too complicated for me I just couldn’t care less. I see Chinese and Russian people as our friends, no problems coming from them. It’s the damn Yanks and the British just keeping up the pretence that they are the enemy. As usual, old fashion views. If we are invaded by China then I’ll change my outlook. Who are we to look down on these countries? We are nobody. Be friends I say and reciprocate with good trade deals where ever we can. NZ is in no position to posture and dictate.

  11. If you expect common sense from this government or any in the last 30 or so years I would not hold my breath. As for authoritarianism just look erosion of privacy and now possibly free speech not to mention militarised cop units right here in NZ. Perhaps we should focus on cleaning up our own democracy before we start looking at what other nations are doing.

    I’ll add having been to China many many times I understand why they have the system they do. Its a huge nation and not an easy one to govern. Under our system of democracy my view is it would descend into chaos and possibly civil war. China is not one people its many with often very different views of what that country should be. I have my doubts those differences are reconcilable.

    I think too assuming our system is the only and best system is not entirely reasonable. If the majority of Chinese want Communism surely that’s their choice to make not ours to judge?

    • Sean – “Its a huge nation and not an easy one to govern.” That’s right – and sometimes the most expedient solution is the realistic option.

      Similarly, Russian friends say that traditionally the Russian people like strong leaders/leadership.

      “…our system of democracy…would descend into chaos and possibly civil war.” Like I said, the most expedient solution may be what works – taking a few people out the back and shooting them. Sometimes necessary.

      Our oblique leadership here could be contributing to the Nats’ socially divisive justice ditherings; here the strongest posturing “leaders” are largely religious nutters or rich fools; we’re ripe for the plucking.

      “If the majority of Chinese want Communism surely that’s their choice to make not ours to judge?” Of course.

  12. Originally posted at 11.00am 29/11/2019, second attempt???
    Thank you Chris for another reasoned common sense blog. Now i must get back to watching seal team 3 or another docco on how murrica won the invasion of Vietnam/ Iraq / Afghanistan / Syria / wherever, or some other mindless drivel.

  13. Thank you Chris for another reasoned common sense blog. Now i must get back to watching seal team 3 or another docco on how murrica won the invasion of Vietnam / Iraq / Afghanistan / Syria / wherever, or some other mindless drivel.

  14. Five Eyes or A Thousand-Hands.

    This analysis by Christ Trotter rolls out some very interesting, future-oriented perspectives and one would wish for continued public debate on the present and future relationship between NZAO and the PR China.

    Let’s have no illusion. The sheer size of China, her population, area, economy, military, cultural expressions, always were, are and will continue to be main sources for the country’s strengths, capacities, influence, power.

    As stated by CT, such is the case for over 4000 years, and pride of history, dynasties and culture is deeply ingrained in a vast majority of the Chinese population, certainly in the Chinese heartlands. It is also a fertilizing ingredient into strong nationalistic identification patterns.

    Looking into the West’s destructive engagement with the Muslim part of world over the past half century, the sudden support and sympathy for the case of the Uighurs can hardly be trusted. Most Asia-Pacific countries will see it as political marketing plot and the continuation of “speaking with a forked tongue”, as often experienced from the West’s political class and associated media.

    Certainly, different layers of an outdated ‘anglo-saxon club mentality’ are still constituting elements in western political responses to global developments, unnecessarily narrowing down options for possible cross-beneficial arrangements, also misguiding a faulty perception of contemporary China.

    This is most unfortunate, as a meaningful and consistent dialogue with the critical intelligentsia of China would be most helpful for the Left in NZAO, and is urgently required for the following short-and long-term reasons:
    • The global impact of the Belt and Road Initiative will be immense, historically without comparison; positive and negative repercussion felt in many corners of the world, substantial outreach will include the Pacific and NZAO.
    • There will be no successful global adaptation of world population (including local migration flows to Asia and the Pacific) without China.
    • Further militarization of the Pacific can be expected when Antarctica becomes ice-free and more open for natural resource exploitation.

    Most importantly:
    • There will be no promising global reduction of greenhouse gases and hardly a viable chance for many local climate resilience measures in NZAO without China (and others, naturally) moving toward a 0-Carbon, Green Economy.

    Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD7SBgLvjqY

  15. Originally posted 11am 29/11/19
    Thank you Chris for another reasoned common sense blog. Now i must get back to watching seal team 3 or another docco on how murrica won the invasion of Vietnam / Iraq / Afghanistan / Syria / wherever, or some other mindless drivel.

    • “None of the Above” is not, I’m afraid, an option, Geoff. Never has been for as small a player as New Zealand. From the moment our state took shape in the 1850s, we’ve always been a part of somebody’s empire. As an isolated group of islands, surrounded by temperate seas, in the Age of Global Warming, that situation is unlikely to change.

      • Chris
        I think we could get away with being a whole lot more independent than we are. To some extent because we are so small. We do have what we need though not everything we want. But I think our world image is of about the best example in the world of a colonial originating democratic fair minded nation. Not any where near as good as we could be but better than almost anyone else. For any major power to seriously sanction us it would be seen as an extreme move that put the aggressor outside acceptability by the rest of the world; whichever side that action was taken by.
        If we studiously avoided siding with anyone, criticising anyone and minded our own business, as with our nuke free policy we could be left alone to sell what others want to buy and buy what others want to sell. All trade deals seem to me to be directed at restricting trade to others rather than promoting trade with the participants . They should all be avoided. And we should focus on trading only what we need to and not trade for trade’s sake which exacerbates emissions and pollution.
        D J S

        • Independant nations also produce there own weapons so they don’t have to purchase them abroad. Once there is a value greater than that of petty profits what are you willing to fight for? A leader? A party? A flag? A nation? A people? Human rights? The environment? These are difficult questions so what are you willing to fight for.

      • Kia ora Chris
        The presumption within the regime as a whole is that New Zealand can be economically dependent on China while remaining in the de facto political and military alliance of the Five Eyes.
        However those within the regime who are honest and realistic acknowledge that such an arrangement is untenable in the long term.
        So among the “realists” a rift has opened up between those who want to remain with the Five Eyes, which means adopting President Trump’s anti-China policy, and those who are would let New Zealand become economically manacled to China as it was once to the British Empire.
        Yet external and internal factors at play mean neither of these options are as realistic as they might first appear.
        To put it bluntly the Five Eyes option would collapse the New Zealand economy and at the same time seriously disaffect New Zealand’s Chinese community.
        The Chinese dependency option on the other hand would invite Five Eyes political and intervention, including incitement of ethnic conflict – a tactic which is already an explicit part of the Five Eyes strategic plan for wresting New Zealand out of the Chinese orbit.
        From a pragmatic point of view one big problem with the “China solution” is demographic.
        People of Chinese descent are now a significant ethnic minority in New Zealand, and as can be seen in the comments section of every New Zealand authored blog (including the present one), people of other races can be easily stirred against a minority which can be portrayed as a fifth column for an alien, albeit relatively benign, power. I also suspect, that however benign the PRC overlord might be, it would slowly but surely screw the New Zealand economy down, just as Britain did, demanding ever-cheaper goods and services.
        The one realistically viable prospect for a prosperous and harmonious society in New Zealand is one based on multi-ethnic mono-cultural nationalism with a broad based economy not overly dependent upon foreign trade.
        The opposite of what the present colonial regime stands for, and also in contradiction to the revisionist colonial options proposed by yourself on the one hand, and by Five Eyes loyalists like Paul Buchanan on the other.
        For two hundred years we in Aotearoa have combated colonialism and imperialism, and while it often seems that the struggle has moved one step forward and then two steps back the objective conditions are not as they were. We can and must be finally free from imperial rule.

  16. This is naive to the extreme, believing China would take more independent New Zealand government advice seriously and listen to it. Somehow New Zealanders, including Chris Trotter, tend to believe this country is oh so important to the rest of the world, while it is merely a very small and insignificant player, a country even left out on many world maps in more important countries (as if it had fallen off the Planet Earth).

  17. There was a period after the two world wars , when Western democracy , and Western capitalism worked hand in hand for the people of the Western world. Everyone believed in it from the top down. (except the Dules bros). In the time since, the families accustomed to wheeling power and controlling wealth have systematically worked away to control populations and resources through taking control of news outlets which have become propaganda outlets, and control of the banking system and credit creation so as to rule so called democracies just as effectively, and less socially responsibly than the acknowledged authoritarian regimes do. The unapologetic authoritarians know there are limits to what their populations will suffer. And there is nothing particularly for the government , who are indeed in a position to govern, to gain from causing hardship and suffering to their people. And everyone knows who is making decisions and why. In our now “mature” democracies the voters have only the illusion of choice, of a puppet government that is no longer in a position to govern. And there is no need for those who are in power to consider the interests of the population. The so called elected government is there to take the fall.
    Not being fluent in Maori , and ignorant of history I googled Geoff Fischer’s quote . It’s with a read…
    https://nzhistory.govt.nz/people/rewi-maniapoto.
    D J S

  18. originally posted 11am 29/11/19 ??
    Thank you Chris for another reasoned common sense blog. Now i must get back to watching seal team 3 or another docco on how murrica won the invasion of Vietnam / Afghanistan / Syria / wherever, or some other mindless drivel.

  19. Submitted for the third time since 11am 29/11/19 on different comp??
    Thank you Chris for another reasoned common sense blog. Now i must get back to watching seal team 3 or another docco on how murrica won the invasion of Iraq / Vietnam / Afghanistan / Syria / wherever, or some other mindless drivel.

  20. Having submitted a comment on Chris’s blog three times since yesterday 29/11/19 and using two different computers, my comment would appear to have disappeared into the ether?? Having had this happen a number of times (usually when commenting unfavorably on murica) i can not help but wonder if TDB’s aggregator/ spam filter may have something to do with the problem. I do my best when commenting to be as careful as possible to ensure that i do not defame anybody, and to keep my comments reasonable. I would respectfully ask TDB, that if they do not wish to print my comments that they at least do me the courtesy of a short note explaining why????

  21. Having submitted a comment on Chris’s blog three times since yesterday 29/11/19 and using two different computers, my comment would appear to have disappeared into the ether?? Having had this happen a number of times (usually when commenting unfavorably on murica) i can not help but wonder if TDB’s aggregator/ spam filter may have something to do with the problem. I do my best when commenting to be as careful as possible to ensure that i do not defame anybody, and to keep my comments reasonable. I would respectfully ask TDB, that if they do not wish to print my comments that they at least do me the courtesy of a short note explaining why????

  22. Submitted for the fifth time since 29/11/19
    Thank you Chris for another reasoned common sense blog. Now i must get back to watching seal team 3 or another docco on how murrica won the invasion of Iraq / Vietnam / Afghanistan / Syria / wherever, or some other mindless drivel.

  23. Such subtilty. Understand where you’re coming from, despite being a long way behind. Stories are all far closer to the Trumpian narrative than they’ll admit. Metternichian.

    Which has always been the case. But, despite it not even mattering in our own country, our base camp is the fair go. We must blaze like light bugs in caves or die. We don’t have the peculiar Australian make-up, deeply sleazy but somehow the people can’t be overturned — like we were.

  24. “Why have the Chinese authorities gone to such extreme lengths to suppress the cultural and religious traditions of this far-flung ethnic minority?”

    I know that this is what the msm – in particular the US outlets – are telling us. However, I’m very sceptical about this narrative. See the following for a dissenting view:

    https://off-guardian.org/2019/07/23/march-of-the-uyghurs/

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/idlib-based-uighur-terrorists-threatened-russian-forces-syria/5677976

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/chinas-uyghur-problem-the-recruitment-of-uyghur-muslims-to-join-al-qaeda/5656293

    Years ago, I studied Mandarin at tertiary level. Part of that study included some history; on the basis of what I learned at that time, the articles above present a much more plausible account of what’s actually going on there, than the just-so stories coming out of the US and the EU.

    “They might also like to consider the moral calculus which allowed the USA to pour munitions into Syria while the country descended into a prolonged civil war which killed tens-of-thousands, displaced upwards of half the civilian population and provided the murderous ISIS “Caliphate” with a territorial base of operations.”

    The US had a longstanding “regime change” plan for Syria. There’s no doubt that the so-called “Arab Spring” was – like the “colour” revolutions inflicted upon sundry eastern European countries (the Ukraine being the most recent), and attempted in Tiananmen Square and just now in Hong Kong – fomented by the CIA and NGOs – funded by either the CIA or by the Soros Foundation. The Arab Spring was largely a failure, and had well and truly fizzled out by the time it reached Syria. Hence the strategy followed by the US; as the saying goes, the rest is history.

    “…..the Russian Federation which, while no friend of Islamic extremism, continues to have strong economic ties with the “Stans”.”

    The Russian Federation – in particular Putin – is known to espouse a Westphalian perspective regarding other polities’ political arrangements. Had the US and the EU pursued a similar philosophy since the close of WW2, the rest of us – including the millions of unfortunates in many countries who were killed – would be a great deal better off. The RF trades with other countries, regardless of what their governing systems may be, or whether it approves of those systems.

    From what I’ve seen, China follows a similar strategy. This is something for which we should be grateful. I’m very sceptical indeed about claims of Chinese interference in our polity, or that of Australia; most of these claims postdate Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, around 2012 – which seemed to consist primarily of Obama constantly needling the PRC.

    “One has only to recall the severe “telling-off” administered to Foreign Minister Winston Peters when he dared to suggest that New Zealand and the Russian Federation could secure considerable mutual benefits by negotiating their own free trade agreement.”

    I remember this. Shortly after the coalition was formed, I wrote to Peters, urging him to pursue that free trade deal with the RF. Some time afterward, I received the most extraordinary, fact-free response from him. It could only have been written by some minor MFAT flunkey; I was so astonished by it that I didn’t reply; a course of action I now regret.

    People will remember the false-flag gas attack in Douma, which occurred not long afterward; clearly intended to keep so-called “allies” in line. People will doubtless also remember msm commentators shouting about it, and urging our government to follow the US and EU line. Fortunately, Ardern was moderate in her comments.

    “…..the Americans have consistently refused to admit our dairy products in anything like the quantities authorised by the NZ-China FTA. Perhaps the time has come to pose the question of whether or not the membership fee of the Anglo-Saxon “club” has grown too high for New Zealand to go on paying?”

    Indeed. And let’s not forget that LBJ came to NZ in 1966, just to blackmail the Holyoake government into sending troops to the US’s godforsaken war in Vietnam. And the blackmail he used was trade: he threatened to crimp our sheepmeat and wool exports to the US, if the government didn’t fall into line. Holyoake wasn’t keen to commit troops to that war, hence the strong-arming by the US.

    In my view, the price of “club” membership has always been too high; I’d greatly prefer it if our polity followed a more independent, non-aligned path. Throwing in our lot with the BRICS countries would be better for all of us. Our government’s foreign policy would be better applied purely to trade: it isn’t our business how other polities run their affairs, and we should refrain from preaching at them. And vice versa, of course.

    • The Russian Federation – in particular Putin – is known to espouse a Westphalian perspective regarding other polities’ political arrangements. Had the US and the EU pursued a similar philosophy since the close of WW2, the rest of us – including the millions of unfortunates in many countries who were killed – would be a great deal better off. The RF trades with other countries, regardless of what their governing systems may be, or whether it approves of those systems.

      Thank you D’Esterre for expressing my thoughts much more eloquently and precisely than i would have. I am sure that you are aware that a second opcw inspector present on the ground in Douma has come forward to debunk the official (us) report on the “chemical attack”

  25. I’d add – with regard to membership of the “club” – that somebody in this household has observed that we’ve for many years been paying the price demanded of us, yet we still haven’t been given membership.

    Ain’t that the truth!

    • D’Esterre D’Esterre D’Esterre I may reply later, but meantime please mull over this vexing membership issue. They did send Prince Charles and Camilla to visit us, and less than a year previously Harry and Meghan Markle were sent down here to practise being royals on us. There is even talk of Prince Harry being governor-general – to us or Aus; this has to signify something.

      • Snow White: “They did send Prince Charles and Camilla to visit us, and less than a year previously Harry and Meghan Markle were sent down here to practise being royals on us. There is even talk of Prince Harry being governor-general – to us or Aus; this has to signify something.”

        Hmm….that “something” looks suspiciously like the crumbs from the rich man’s table. I’m pleased to say that I managed to avoid seeing either couple (C & M didn’t come to Wgtn); though they neatly exemplify my point, don’t they? Paying the hefty price tag for their tours, but nope: no membership of the “club” in return.

        Harry as Gov Gen? I doubt it: the days are gone when we’d be pathetically grateful to have a minor royal foisted on us. A fortiori Australia, I’d have thought.

  26. D’Esterre – You’re right on the marketing (which I don’t know much about) and political inhibitions are a hindrance – but we’re not necessarily great on marketing anyway. We lost, gradually, a ready, and easy market when Britain entered the EEC; currently one UK supermarket chain is now prohibiting NZ lamb imports, and others could follow suit. Perhaps we could sell it to Russia.

    Long ago when I was living in the UK I was frustrated not being able to buy NZ honey, apart from costly little gift packs, I think only from a shop, maybe attached to NZ House. The bulk of the NZ honey was sold in supermarkets as “blended,” with Argentinian honey.

    I bought NZ butter wrapped in grim grease proof packs alongside elegantly foil wrapped Danish butter. Bought UK lamb for dinner guests but told them that it was NZ lamb, which was fattier and less palatable.

    I wrote to the NZ Honey Marketing Authority from London, suggesting that the NZ honey be processed and marketed as NZ Honey, trading on the popularity of our high profile dairy products – and perhaps lamb- instead of being sold as a fairly anonymous “blend.” Got a sniffy reply, saying that this was how it had always been done.

    The aftermath came later, back here in NZ, when a honey producer came round the streets on his truck, selling honey door to door, filling customers’ containers.

    He told me, that because of the low prices producers got selling through the Honey Marketing Authority, they had joined together to export directly to Europe – continental Europe – themselves, for higher prices.

    Thereupon the govt had jumped on this initiative, banned it, and said that NZ honey could only be sold via the NZ Honey Marketing Authority. I’m pretty sure that was the name. This man was not a happy chappie, and I gather that his response to this was selling his honey himself, door to door, from the back of his truck.

    The frustrating thing, was that I do think that processed and packaged as an identified Kiwi product, it would have sold well, and the honey producers – the people who did the hard work – proved this by selling it themselves for a higher price in a market with no particular emotional ties to NZ, and they were stopped for no good reason that I know of. I assume that it’s all done much better now.

    We’ve been very good to the UK – apart from sending our soldiers off to be killed in their wars. Many NZ’ers don’t know that in the post WW11 years, rationing continued in New Zealand to enable us to keep supplying food to the also-rationed Brits. They did know and appreciate this.

    • Many years ago my Pa went back to England for a trip whence he had immigrated with 5 pounds shared with his older brother (16 and 19) . and tried to buy for his local relatives some of the many thousands of fat lambs he had sent back in the half century that intervened.
      He could not find any in any shops. They would and will not allow our agricultural products to be marketed in their own name because if they did no one would ever settle for anything else.
      D J S

    • Snow White: “We lost, gradually, a ready, and easy market when Britain entered the EEC…”

      As I remember it, that loss was pretty abrupt – or would have been, were it not for the sterling efforts of Jack Marshall. He saved our collective bacon with a bit of nifty diplomatic footwork; that’s how I remember it, anyway.

      “….currently one UK supermarket chain is now prohibiting NZ lamb imports, and others could follow suit.”

      Yeah…I think that we can expect more of this. Until, of course, UK supermarkets come slap up against the hard reality: UK farmers cannot produce enough to meet local demand. They never could, which is why we’ve been able to export there ever since the UK entered the EEC.

      “Perhaps we could sell it to Russia.”

      A strategy which I favour. Though I guess that we’d be naive to expect the RF just to take up where we left off with negotiations in 2013-14, without extracting a spot of light revenge? But maybe I’m maligning them; from what I’ve seen, Russian negotiators show a good deal more sophistication than those in the west, with whom they’re obliged to negotiate.

      “…NZ butter wrapped in grim grease proof packs…… NZ Honey Marketing Authority….”

      I think that this is a reflection of state control over the export industry in the days before all that free-market, neoliberal stuff infested our economy. It was surely a bit clunky, back then, wasn’t it! Maybe neoliberalism hasn’t been all bad?

      “Many NZ’ers don’t know that in the post WW11 years, rationing continued in New Zealand to enable us to keep supplying food to the also-rationed Brits.”

      Yup. I also knew about this; it affected my family. My late mother often talked about the trials of the food rationing. I was very pleased to have been able to point this out to an extended family member from central Europe, who was whining about the scarcity of food there after the war, as if they were the only ones so affected. Unsympathetic? Moi?

      For those too young to know, almost everything was rationed during the war; I recall an older work colleague talking about swapping her coupons for stockings with another colleague’s coupons for cigarettes! Elastic was almost impossible to obtain, my late mother said – which necessitated some inventiveness when it came to keeping one’s knickers up…..

      • D’Esterre – I was living in the UK when Britain entered the EEC, and not aware of the issues, but yes, Sir John Marshall did sterling work on behalf of NZ exports, and he got some initial concessions, but they weren’t permanent, but from what I do know, it was very much the power of one, and that one was Marshall, a rare politician of whom everyone speaks with great respect.

        Butter was rationed in my early childhood and householders had butter coupons. Well after WW11 had ended, my mother posted fruit cakes to Britain in the square lidded tins in which they were baked, and I assume that this went on during the war too – we were a fairly cash-strapped family, but she was punctilious about doing it.

        We were brought up on “the starving children of Europe”narrative to make us eat as required, so were lucky to get that social awareness which sticks. Catholic school children also had the advantage of knowing about, and contributing to Africa’s black babies, and these are reasons why Catholic Bill English’s attitudes to poor and sick and disadvantaged people stymies me – apart from his determination that all babies get born.

        Beaths Dept store in ChCh employed a woman to mend the ladders in customers’ nylon, and probably silk stockings. Her poor poor eyes. Mending nylons is almost unbelievable.

        I’ve been polling people about whether we’re better taken over by China, Russia, or the USA, and the USA comes last every time – even tho’ most folk have visited and liked the people. But if reasons of sentiment and politics aren’t stopping the Brits from banning our lamb/whatever, then nor should they stop us exporting to Russia.

  27. “….the Russian Federation which, while no friend of Islamic extremism, continues to have strong economic ties with the “Stans”.”

    A household member, knowledgeable in such matters, points out that, while there are periodic outbreaks of Islamic extremism in the ‘stans, those countries’ governments jump on it immediately and from a great height. They have zip tolerance for it.

    There was an outbreak of Wahabbi-fomented Islamist violence in Chechnya in the 1990s. Given that Chechnya is de jure part of the Russian Federation, the Yeltsin government moved on it, though after some delay. The job was finished finally when Putin came to power. Things have been more or less quiet since; Kadyrov keeps tight control on the situation.

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