The Chinese New Year holiday is in progress, with Chinese tourists streaming in all directions, visiting nations across the world. With about two weeks left before most of them return to their daily routines in China, it is a busy time for the tourism, rental car, hospitality and airline sectors as well as individual tourist attractions.
New Zealand for the most part has not been an exception. Just as in previous years, the wave of tourists radiating across the globe from China has reached New Zealand no problems. However thanks to concerns by Chinese officials about New Zealand’s stance on the case of Huawei being denied the right to supply 5G broadband equipment, it is suspected that China does not want its citizens visiting New Zealand.
This has led to what appears to be a dip in tourist numbers coming from the Peoples Republic. Business in the sectors linked to tourism have been reporting steady traffic rather than the normal high level of activity.
Chinese Government officials are thought to have warned their citizens against visiting other countries, and New Zealand is not an exception. In order to maintain control and not let Chinese develop a view of the west that is not favourable to their authoritarian overlords in Beijing, an element of concern or distrust is deliberately injected into government broadcasts. Due to the lack of information in China other than what comes through official sources, Chinese do not get the diverse array of general information and news that western countries are able to tap into.
Not surprisingly, for fear of causing economic damage, National and A.C.T. are trying to claim that this is causing Sino-Kiwi relations undue stress. They ignore though the fact that National has an M.P. who trained in the Chinese military to be an intelligence officer. Jian Yang who entered Parliament. They also ignore the considerable environmental impact that tourism is having on New Zealand and that maintaining a clean sustainable environment is high on the agenda of many people.
Increasingly New Zealand is finding itself no longer able to sit on the fence regarding Chinese activity. Some would argue that the same can be said for American activity (which is beyond the scope of this article). Contrary to popular opinion China is not our friend, and we need to keep Beijing’s foreign policy in mind when we consider how to try to get the best out of the dragon without unduly upsetting the bald eagle.
Ultimately though New Zealand needs to strike out on its own direction. Politicians need to start seeing the global footprint of China and our contribution to its rapid – and unsustainable – growth. Contrary to the simplistic left-right analysis of political thought most commonly used, New Zealand is capable of forming its own.