New Zealand must draw the line with China

In the last week two things have happened that remind me why New Zealand and the world must stand up to China. China’s abuses are happening because western nations lack the gonads to stand up and tell China that this abuse is not acceptable.

The first thing is the introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong. This is a draconian piece of legislation that Beijing has spent the last year trying to get passed. If passed – which it did last week – it would enable Chinese secret police to operate in the open; dissent would be a criminal offence and trials in Chinese courts with life sentences would all be permitted. It originally could not do it directly because Hong Kong rose in protest. Then it tried to get it passed through the Hong Kong legislature. That failed too. So a vote went ahead in Beijing to ratify without Hong Kong input.

The second is the resurfacing of the Jian Yang problem. Jian Yang is a National Party Member of Parliament with suspected links to the Chinese Communist Party. Mr Yang denies them, but refuses to talk to the New Zealand media about his past. I wrote about this yesterday.

One should fully expect Beijing to throw a tantrum, something the Chinese Government is prone to doing every time it gets called on its abuses. They will tell us to stay out of their affairs as China stays out of other nations affairs. Which is totally not true. When opposition to Chinese influence developed in Fiji a few years ago, China sent police over to arrest 75 people.

Pro-Beijing supporters here in New Zealand have often confronted dissidents at peaceful demonstrations, and tried to intimidate them into stopping their activities. Some have gone so far as physical confrontation. A New Zealand academic’s house was broken into a few years ago, as was her office just a couple of days apart, following the release of a paper that she had helped author into Chinese Government influence in New Zealand politics.

New Zealand must draw the line on China. New Zealanders have a right to expect that their country will be free from foreign interference in domestic processes.

One might argue that then we are being hypocrites in being involved in China’s domestic affairs. And this is where there needs to be differentiation. The major concerns regarding China’s domestic affairs centre around their attempts to control sovereign states not under their direct control, namely Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Their agreement with Britain over Hong Kong was that it would be under Chinese rule, but maintain a democratic form of governance – One State Two Systems. For 23 years with slowly worsening Chinese influence, this was largely the case. All that changed on 1 July 2020. The introduction of the security law last week effectively ended the One State Two Systems and replaced it with One State One System. In the week since they have arrested over 300 dissidents, forcibly unseated the democratically elected council.

In the case of Taiwan, China views this most successful of all of the Asian nations in terms of fighting COVID19 as a renegade province. Chinese nationalists envisage a day when Taiwan might be taken by force, as it it is too strong and independent to surrender without massive resistance. Taiwan will be significantly harder because taking it by force invites a major military conflict. More likely China will continue to try to intimidate Taiwanese politicians and block its attempts to join world bodies.

We cannot turn a blind eye to Chinese international aggression. We have seen ample examples of what happens when an aggressor is allowed to get away with unjust acts – the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia in 1938 and the rest of that country in 1939. Nor can we turn a blind eye as the world did in the 1930’s to China’s affairs when entire ethnic groups are being subjugated in Xinjiang Province and it is here I am reminded of Martin Niemoller’s famous words:

First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist

Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me

China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang are utterly terrifying to read about. A vast network of camps with almost concentration camp like conditions in which Uighur Muslims are being held. Many are being used for slave labour. Among the female prisoners rape is rife; torture and beatings are common. Whereas other parts of the country enable relatively free movement, Xinjiang is like some sort of Orwellian nightmare come true – everywhere closely monitored electronically, visually and otherwise.

It is a shame that such a great nation like China, which has contributed so much over the course of history to this planet is behaving like this. However many people wondered – and probably still do wonder – how Germany came to be an international pariah in the 1930s and 1940’s. History, after all, has its lessons. We would do well to learn them.


Why we need to be concerned about National Party M.P. Jian Yang

During the weekend, on my Twitter account RobertGlennieNZ, I asked Tova O’Brien, reporter for Newshub if she would take up the case of National Part Member of Parliament Jian Yang, and his reluctance to do what I believe is a basic responsibility of any Parliamentarian: to front the media on reasonable request.

If @TovaOBrien wants to do something useful for New Zealanders, how about getting on the case of Jian Yang. If a Member of Parliament will not front the media, they should not be in Parliament. You are entitled to ask him the hard Q’s Tova, even if he does not like it. Democracy.

It was a largely spur of the moment thought, having just read an article about the difficulty of getting Dr Yang to talk to New Zealand media. I was expecting a few likes, retweets and replies. What I was not expecting was 313 likes; 60 retweets and 20 replies – Twitter activity levels that I thought would have been akin to someone standing for Parliament. Perhaps I struck a chord with people because the overwhelming feedback was positive, but the matter clearly resonated with many.

There was one reply that stood out among the responses. One person argued on Twitter that whilst it was neither right, nor wrong, Mr Yang had made a decision not to engage the New Zealand media and we should respect it.  Another one said that Mr Yang will speak to media, but it is only Mandarin written/spoken media, which in a predominantly English speaking country is no use at all to the vast majority of New Zealanders; New Zealand journalism or New Zealand democracy.

I disagree. Yes, Mr Yang clearly made a decision. However Mr Yang holds an elected position in our Parliament. Whilst he is a list Member of Parliament who came in on the back of National’s party vote instead of winning an electorate seat, he has the same responsibilities as the other 119 Members of Parliament. In as far as Mr Yang is not prepared to talk to New Zealand media upon reasonable request, I believe he should not be in Parliament.

So, one might wonder why I am expending an entire article on Mr Yang. The fact of the matter is that there is more to the story of him in Parliament than most people realize and because of that, I am going to delve a bit into his history prior to becoming a National Party Member of Parliament, because there is a story to be told. Much of the evidence below comes from the work of Professor Anne-Marie Brady, a Chinese politics specialist at University of Canterbury.

Dr Jian Yang grew up in Jiangxi Province in China and attended the Australian National University where he earned a Masters of Arts and a Doctorate of Philosophy. During the 1980’s Dr Yang had a period where he was in the Chinese military in a civilian non-ranked capacity. Whilst in the military worked in the Peoples Liberation Army (P.L.A.) Airforce Engineering College and the Luoyang P.L.A. University of Foreign Languages.

Although Mr Yang has claimed not to have directly taught Chinese spies, he has admitted that he could reasonably be viewed as having done so virtue of his teaching. Official Information Act documents show that he did not disclose his military intelligence work. And further questions were asked in 2017 in Australia about his time in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

I was prepared to ignore those, as they are in the past, but more recently Dr Yang has been linked to the Chinese United Front, an organization working to push Chinese activities and influence in New Zealand. He was also invited to attend a military parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 2019, which suggests to me that even if he is a New Zealand citizen, he is maintaining some sort of high level relationship with the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

It strikes me as interesting that organizations across the political spectrum are refusing to buy into the National Party claim that Dr Yang has their confidence and that we should not be concerned. The Taxpayers Union for example say that Mr Yang has a responsibility to talk to the media. Political commentators such as Michael Reddell have expressed frustration at not being able to get Mr Yang to talk to English speaking media.

Dr Yang could resolve much of this fairly immediately by talking to the New Zealand media. As long as he refuses to do so, they are – as are New Zealanders – entitled to draw their own opinions about his actions and the motive for them.

China will not tell New Zealand what to do

So, Beijing is getting grumpy with New Zealand for taking a stand on Hong Kong. What a surprise.

There are very good reasons to be thoroughly alarmed by Beijing’s actions with regards to Hong Kong’s sovereignty. And as of Tuesday New Zealand time the Chinese government rubber stamped the law that would enabled the crack down on the rights of Hong Kongers. Within a day, following defiant protests, 300 people had been arrested on grounds of violating the security bill, which criminalizes the right to anti-Police, pro-independence slogans, the possession and/or display of any Tibetan, Hong Kong or Taiwanese flags.

This is in direct contravention of the One State Two Systems rule that China’s Deng Xiaoping and Prince Charles on behalf of Britain had agreed to when they worked out the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1984.

I envisage a major flight of western capital and western country nationals from Hong Kong in the coming weeks and months, particularly if Beijing’s crack down on the protests continues with the intensity of yesterday’s events. And indeed I am already aware of New Zealanders based in Hong Kong looking at properties around New Zealand with the intention of leaving as soon as they have something secured.

Along with the brutal repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, one starts to see a picture of a grotesquely totalitarian regime bent on staying in power at any cost. If one then adds the desire to take Taiwan back and its clashes with Indian forces along the line of control, we see an expansionist power as well.

New Zealand needs to take a number of steps fairly immediately to reduce the influence of the Peoples Republic on our affairs. Some of the steps are domestic and some are on the foreign stage. Domestically we need to ban foreign political donations so that New Zealand politicians cannot be bought out by foreign interests, politicians and businesses. We need to get the National Party to remove Jian Yang from its candidate list for 2020 until the Electoral Commission is satisfied that he is not a Chinese Government plant. Internationally, we need to do more to assist our Pasifika neighbours in terms of infrastructure projects, building up their legal institutions and education systems.

Beijing wonders why so many countries get annoyed with it. We are annoyed because in all these years since it began to open up following the death of Mao Tse Tung, China has steadfastly refused to understand that human rights are not just a western construct. They are a universal construct applicable to every man, woman and child across the planet. Its brutal subjugation of hundreds of millions of people, puts it on par with the United States and Moscow for destructive negative influence on the global well being of humanity. Unless and until this changes, Beijing, like Moscow, Washington D.C. and the capitals of other human rights abusers will continue to be subject to the criticisms levelled at it by N.G.O.’s fellow Governments and individuals.

Chinese designs on Hong Kong and Taiwan must be checked

For months China has been trying to rein in an increasingly restless Hong Kong protest movement. The movement which sprung up last year was originally intended to stop the Hong Kong legislature passing laws that would enable Beijing to extradite dissidents, instill pro-Beijing views into children and station security forces there. The laws led to a protest movement that caught the attention and respect of much of the free world. They were men and women of all ages who had made home in Hong Kong and were prepared to put their livelihoods and lives on the line for their freedom.

Initially they succeeded. The laws were shelved and when elections were held, pro-democracy candidates swept the ballot in one of the most comprehensive routs I can remember. But in doing so, they angered the dragon. They angered Beijing, which resolved to bypass the legislature altogether and simply impose the law, which was done last Friday.

New Zealand has a long relationship with China. In its early days Chinese gold miners worked in harsh central Otago conditions to lay down water races so they could sluice gold, and were the subject of considerable discrimination whilst doing much to enrich the history of the province. It has a tricky balancing act to maintain as China is now our biggest export market and could cause massive damage to the economy if it chose to stop tourists coming here; stop taking our exports.

At the same time, China must learn – and New Zealand must participate in this teaching – that what it is doing in Hong Kong is not acceptable. It is not acceptable to bully other territories into submission simply because they have an alternative thought. Which is why the condemnation yesterday of China’s moves on Hong Kong and the fact that every party in Parliament spoke out against it, is to be applauded.

In 1972 the then United States President Richard Nixon visited China and re-established relations with the Peoples Republic. Following the vision of Deng Xiaoping, Paramount Ruler, China began opening up. It realized that command economics could not work and started developing a market economy. Chinese businesses were encouraged to innovate; Beijing joined the W.T.O. and began to show an interest in helping poor countries develop their natural resources.

But for all of China’s huge economic progress and the improvement of living standards in the worlds most populous nation, the Chinese Communist Party rules the country with an iron fist. Its tolerance for dissenting views of Beijing and in particular for those expressing a desire for democratic reform is quite frankly atrocious. It is not uncommon to have police officers awakening people in the night and taking them down to the local station “for a chat”, which may be more accurately described as a warning to cease and desist. Many a human rights lawyer, journalist, activist has been arrested and put in state run “re-education” camps. Its 1989 Tiananmen Square crack down in which the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army was deployed in huge numbers and killed or wounded 3,000 people

Hong Kong for the most part has been a model of people power and peaceful protest. Some days hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens have been on the streets. Much of the violence seen on television has been the result of security personnel agitating the protesters into committing acts of violence so they can be arrested. The Hong Kong Police Force by contrast have increasingly become a model for how not to deal with protesters. In the last two years the protests and protester movement putting up the protests has increased dramatically following attempts by Beijing to increase its level of control over Hong Kong . The new law change that I have described will no doubt see that distrust increase further.

Similarly China is becoming increasingly annoyed with Taiwan. The island nation that has grown rich and powerful and has been one of the true highlights in the global war against COVID19, is widely seen by Beijing as a renegade province that it wants back. Beijing fails to recognize that Taiwan is an independent nation. Formosa was never been a part of China, prior to becoming Taiwan. Ever since the Nationalists left the mainland to the Communists in 1949, Beijing has been plotting how to take the island nation without triggering a war. Taiwan’s very success and the high level of respect around the world for what it has achieved could be described as inducing Beijing’s envy. The rejection of the “One Nation Two Systems” rule which meant in return for China having control of Taiwan it could maintain its free and democratic governance, has been seen as an affront to Beijing. Although Beijing’s dream of taking Taiwan by force is unlikely – not least because it could a massive U.S. military response – as long as Taiwan is not directly ruled by China, Beijing will have designs on it.

New Zealand, like other nations, must stand firm against them.

Is COVID19 a biological reality check for planet Earth?

In 1800, there was about 1 billion people world wide. The next billion was reached in 1927. 3 billion was attained in about 1960, and since then the population has increased by about 83 million per year or about a billion more every 13 years. As of July 2018 there was about 7.5 billion people world wide.

For the current population to be sustainable, there is about 1.8 hectares of land available for resource development. However 329 million Americans use about 9.7 hectares each.

That is not sustainable environmentally, biologically or otherwise. But what really makes me curious is whether COVID19 signifies a sort of tipping point where the level of pollution and environmental degradation has reached a point where some kind biological reaction has taken place, enabling a illness that has the ability to evolve and vary its behaviour.

Could factors such as poor sanitation and hygiene, plus poor living conditions have contributed to create a biological environment where germs that then get spread from person to person have created something? In conjunction with human overpopulation, a worsening physical environment and poor management of waste is it possible that a second threshhold where a sort of correction in the (lack of) biological equilibrium could occur?

And that COVID19 or a future variation of it is that correction?

In the west common illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella have been largely eradicated. Hospitals are suitably sterile and staff are well trained and resourced. The very basic yet fundamental practice of washing ones hands is well drummed into medical practitioners and nurses. But in third world countries like Africa where the water supply is heavily polluted, the infrastructure poorly maintained and the population not educated to know what is safe and what is not greatly increases the probability of disease. In the tropical regions stagnant water bodies are suitable breeding grounds for mosquito larvae, which aids the spread of malaria and other diseases. COVID19 started in China, but has been rapidly spread around the world so that New Zealand now has 20 causes,

Another – politicized – reason for supporting this theory is that research has definitively concluded that COVID19 is natural in origin. Contrary to the conspiracy theory that some are expounding, it was not manufactured in a laboratory. It will undermine the alleged reports that Chinese authorities are pushing the line that America manufactured this in a lab.