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Politics & Law

The Chinese influence in New Zealand … for four votes


New Zealand Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Winston Peters and China’s Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office Yang Jiechi (former Foreign Minister 2007-13) on 25 May 2018 (photo from Xinhua)

“… failure to respond to interference attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) should endanger New Zealand’s membership (of the ‘Five Eyes’, an intelligence-sharing alliance among the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand since 1955), Peter Mattis, a former CIA China expert testified to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission” in April.

With non-stop increases in trade (from $8.6 billion in 2007 to $26.1 billion in 2017) and surplus ($3.6 billion in 2017), and also non-stop increase of the Chinese New Zealander population (147,500 or 4.3% of total shown in the 2013 census, representing 16% increase from 2006), the Chinese influence in New Zealand (NZ) is definitely expanding.

Be this kind of influence in the form of ‘soft power’ or so-called ‘sharp power’, there is no ground to deny such an existence.

However, it sounds silly to believe that the mostly Christian, English-speaking, liberal-minded white New Zealanders and their elected politicians would put their homeland in danger to appease China. So, what is happening?

While NZ’s domestic politics is out of the coverage here, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has provided a clue in its latest report:

“… New Zealand appealed to China as a strategic ally for numerous reasons, the report said. New Zealand administers the defence and foreign affairs of the neighbouring Pacific Island territories of Niue, Tokelau, and the Cook Islands, which means “four potential votes for China at international forums …”

In other words, so long as China has to play the games in the world arena in accordance with the post-WWII rules set by the West, Beijing will work hard to yield more votes in this and that UN or supranational organization. NZ is a fantastic bundle of four. To the NZ government, it can be a highly profitable business to give these votes to China in various global issues. Therefore, why not if the voting would not cause damage to NZ’s national interest?

Unfortunately, such a behavior goes against the American interest.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

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About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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