Recent comments by our neo Marxist government headed by self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Jacinda Ardern, seem to be equivocal about our relationship(s) with China. This is interesting, given that the Ardern government prides itself on socialist/communist principles such as the centralisation of essential services and the exercise of authoritarianism, often masquerading under the guise of “for the greater/public good” or “we are all in this together”.
One of the arguments about either strengthening or weakening our relationship with China is that China is significantly increasing its economic influence in the Pacific region - but also in Africa and elsewhere. Various “Western” nations such as the US, Australia, the UK and New Zealand seem to claim that the Pacific is “their” territory and that no other entity or power has any right to intrude into this area. Really? Is China not a Pacific nation too?
Pause for just a moment and consider just how dependent we in New Zealand are, upon our two-way trade with China. Most of what we import is “Made in China” - think about it! Clothing, tools, electronics, almost everything we buy or use in New Zealand today is “Made in China” including some foodstuffs. And in most cases, it is good value and inexpensive.
Much of what we now export goes directly to China-especially our dairy products. China is by far our most important trading partner and export destination. Oh, and by the way, the proportion of Asian (mainly Chinese) migrants to New Zealand is predicted to grow to 25% of the population by 2030. Prior to Covid19, thousands of Chinese students were attending our universities and polytechnics - and paying tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, into the bargain. They were invariably hardworking, respectful and very successful as well.
Why, then, would we seek to antagonise or oppose our most important trading partner? Is it because of their alleged treatment of the Muslim minority Uighurs? Or, could it possibly be that our so-called allies-US, Australia, and the UK (though why on earth the UK has ANY interests in this region is a real question these days?), object to a socialist/communist regime colonising the Pacific region? Is the West fearful of a Chinese military build up which needs to be countered with a “Western” military build up? And why would China need to militarily dominate the Pacific region when it is already highly prominent and successful economically, as evidenced by its enormous two-way trading partnership with New Zealand?
This most recent “stand-off” is rhetoric reminiscent of the Cold War, where the threat of world domination by Communism espoused by China and the Soviet Union resulted in the “free” world comprising the United States, Europe and the British Commonwealth nations uniting to oppose any imminent military takeover. In other words, Communism versus Democracy, there is no in-between middle ground.
In a recent international forum, New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern was boasting about how great the New Zealand system of government is and that “our model of democracy” is under threat (From whom?). I thought this interesting, given that “our” (ie New Zealand’s) political model is anything but democratic.
Note: I am not an apologist for totalitarianism or authoritarianism in any way shape or form, having spent some years directly opposing these systems.
It depends upon which “model” of democracy Ardern was referring to. Most Kiwis were brought up believing that democracy involves one person one vote; majority rule; freedom of assembly and expression; equality; and fairness. Other principles include civil and individual human rights; transparency; political honesty and integrity; the right to elect a person of one’s choice; and cultural, religious and other freedoms.
The problem is, there are now many interpretations of the concept of democracy - majoritarian, liberal, socialist, consociational, constitutional, and so on. Just Google “types of democracy” and see the enormous range of types claimed under the democracy umbrella. Of particular interest to New Zealand is the “consociational” model of democracy which is based on political power sharing between different ethnic groups with veto rights over other groups. (He Puapua, Matike Mai Aotearoa?). It is characterised by division and separatism and ethnic quotas. Was this the model of democracy which Ardern was referring to, given certain phrases in her speech? I would bet it certainly is.
The post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan used the consociational model, with disastrous consequences, resulting in years of warfare and ethnic and religious persecution. Just look at it now.
What has all this got to do with China and its interests in the Pacific? Well, as we know, China is the “bad guy”, a totalitarian, monstrous, communist state where the people are subjected to brutal military enforcement, where individual freedoms are suppressed and where state control is rigid. China cannot by definition, claim to be democratic under this framework, can it? Therefore any interest it shows in investing in or assisting other countries and regions must be opposed, right?
But other political systems claiming to be “democratic” also blatantly contravene the principles of democracy to the extent that some of them are far more representative of authoritarian Communism than Communism itself!
One such political system is Mixed Member Proportional (or MMP), designed in Germany as a means of preventing a political recurrence of the authoritarian regime of Nazism. MMP gives a voter two votes -one for the electorate representative and a second for a political party. Half the seats in the legislature are elected representatives but the other half are selected by their political party-obviously using selection processes pertinent to that particular party. There are several outcomes of the MMP system which are in direct contrast to the widely-held principles of liberal democracy:
- the voting public has no input whatsoever into the selection process of half the representatives in parliament, and no opportunity to assess their suitability, skills, experience and personal integrity prior to an election.
- a minority party with a mere 5% of the party vote, whose policies and goals may well be abhorrent to the vast majority (95%) of voters - which is why they achieved their mere 5% in the first place - can exercise the balance of power if and when the popular vote is close between, say, two major parties.
- an aggregation of single-issue minority interests can form a majority. This outcome is used to foster separatism, social divisions and a focus on political identity, rather than the needs and wants of most people. This is called the tyranny of the minorities.
In this regard, MMP is extremely divisive and utterly contradicts claims such as ‘we are all in this together” or “we are a team of 5 million”. Ha ha!
MMP therefore cannot claim to be “democratic” if compared to liberal parliamentary democracy as it directly contravenes and contradicts a number of basic principles upon which the general interpretation of democracy is based.
And in other forms of government besides communism, such as authoritarianism, military, tribal, ethnic-focused, and dictatorships, the fundamental precepts of freedom of expression and individual rights are suppressed using coercion or direct force. Tyranny can be both by a majority and by minorities in union.
But whilst we can all recognise (usually military) force to exercise political power, there are other more subtle forms of coercion used by socialist and neo-Marxist countries like China and Russia to implement controversial or unpopular policies. These forms of political coercion include, but are definitely not limited, to:
- continuously promulgating untruths (lies) or particular political constructs as if they were fact, using the propaganda technique of “argumentum ad nauseam”. This technique was ably conducted by Dr Josef Goebbels in 1930s Germany, in vilifying the Jewish people. Today, presentism is the favourite technique of professional historians used to completely re-write a nation’s history for socio-political reasons.
- requiring state agencies to use political identity as the primary consideration in their functions-such as requiring language and protocols of minority cultures to achieve the political goal of inverse acculturation of a majority.
- requiring state employees to commit to and adopt cultural and political viewpoints as a condition of employment, using various degrees of coercion.
- conditional funding to ensure political compliance-especially in big ticket items like education, health, justice and welfare systems.
- preventing or denying public discussion on matters of substantial constitutional importance, such as power sharing and constitutional revision.
- purposely withholding information so that the people do not know what they do not know. A variation of this approach is “omission” - simply leave out facts or information which you would rather the people not know about.
- ignoring democratic process by mandating the seizure of community assets and eroding community self-governance in favour of state control
- teaching ideological, untrue and dishonest histories to young persons as a form of social conditioning
- removing from office and destroying the reputations of academics who dare question or challenge the current Marxist/socialist orthodoxy
- restrictions on travel and participation, including “pass laws”, requiring people to produce evidence of their identity or status on demand- by police and their “helpers”.
The above is a fair description of China, Russia and other authoritarian regimes, of which we in the “West” need to be on our guard here in the Pacific, eh?
Well no, actually.
The above examples of political coercion comprise a brief list of just some of the activities of the New Zealand government led by self-styled “social democrat” Jacinda Ardern in 2021.
To complete this circle of utter hypocrisy, the Labour government under Ardern displayed an offensive degree of racism and prejudice in attempting to identify property owners in the Auckland area with “Chinese-sounding names” who ostensibly were contributing to escalating house prices! And Asian migrants are favourite targets of other ethnic groups in South Auckland on a regular basis.
No wonder then that the Ardern government is equivocal in dealing with China. Any antipathy cannot possibly be because China is a “communist” state and New Zealand is “democratic”. Chinese migrants who have lived under yoke of communism will feel very much at home in the New Zealand of the future.
Henry Armstrong is retired, follows politics, and writes.