Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Mike's Minute: Why are we surprised about China?

It was hard to watch the China spying coverage yesterday without wondering what all the fuss was about.

It had an air of breathlessness about it, as though this had come as some sort of surprise.

Does the fact China spies on people honestly come as news to anyone? I guess hacking, as the PM suggested, is new, but spying and hacking... it's all nefarious skulduggery, isn't it?

Have a look at the 60 Minutes Australia piece over the weekend, or the associated coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald or The Age on the story of the plane landing in Fiji loaded to the gunnels with police from China, who then went and rounded up a bunch of people and took them back to the mainland.

Have a look at the Chinese in places like the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea with their security services.

Have a look at the ongoing tit for tat between the United States and China, or the UK and China. China are bad actors all over the world and have been for years.

And I would be equally surprised if those that had the wherewithal, like the Americans, like the British, like any major player in Europe, weren't doing exactly the same thing.

When the GCSB or SIS speak, which isn't often, the cyber activity of all sorts of people raises a lot of eyebrows. Not by the fact it's happening, but the fact it's so common.

The ASIO head in Australia is a bloke well worth listening to given he pops up periodically and tells the same story with real flourish, his last report just a month or so back revealed there was an ex-MP who was busy undertaking nefarious activity.

He refused to name them, much to the chagrin of all MPs who claimed to have been tainted by association.

The simple truth in all of this is the Chinese are not to be trusted, but then I assume they would say the same about us.

But beyond that we are happy to be friendly in each other's company and exchange a serious amount of goods which is the two way street that is trade.

For a country like America they can make much of the spying activity. They can call the Chinese out, they can threaten and impose sanctions. People like Trump collect votes on the rhetoric.

Poor old New Zealand?

No such luck. We are between a rock and a hard place. We have no choice. Which is why you have seen the Government do nothing, because they can do nothing.

Aus got up Chinese noses by posing embarrassing questions about Covid and the sanctions got slapped on so fast it was only last week the last of them around wine looked like they were getting lifted.

China spies. China has a big global ideology and a desire to influence a lot of the planet. This is not new.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings - where this article was sourced.

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