I can remember as a young journalist reporting on then Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s invitation to China to set up an embassy here. We were the first Western Nation to do so. Then National Party leader, Robert Muldoon was apoplectic talking at length of reds under the bed and the loss of democracy as we know it.
We then became the first country to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with China that was worth a massive $15.3 billion last year. It was a quarter of our total exports.
There are other advantages to New Zealand as well with, until recently, many Chinese tourists.
Then came a road bump. Spark wanted to develop a 5G telecommunications network using Chinese technology in the form of Huawei. New Zealand needs 5G and Huawei has the technology.
Sadly that wasn’t to happen due in the main to a chicken licken approach from our spy agency the GCSB.
Huawei responded by offering to build the technology in NZ using locals. No-one could accuse Spark of being an agency of the Chinese government. It is a local company employing locals.
Sounded good to me but no we stuck with our Huawei 5G boycott.. Now China is responding as you would expect by making life difficult at its borders and warning tourists against visiting here.
The problem I have is that no-one has explained how the wheels are going to fall off with a Huawei 5G network. A vast number of Kiwi’s use Huawei phones now and nothing drastic has happened. Are we going back to the good old days of reds under beds and the domino theory?
My simple view is I don’t believe the spy agency. Over the years I’ve had the threat of the Yellow Peril and that was decades ago. Then we had the Russian Bear poised to invade. There was the Domino Theory that said if Vietnam fell to the communists the whole of Asia would succumb. It fell to the communists nearly 50 years ago and nothing happened. Since then we’ve had the threat of India and Indonesia. As with all the other threats nothing has happened.
So our security partners in Five Eyes don’t want us to indulge China. So what? Our main threat from a foreign power is likely to be in the form of a biosecurity incursion not bombs. I don’t see a threat from China.
We need to re-establish our close links with China and do it now. That is our future.
In the current world order my view is that China is a lot more stable and progressive than a lot of countries and that includes the USA.