Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chinese embarrassed by deal with New Zealand?

Here's an interesting bit of news which hasn't circulated a great deal on the internet:

Chinese Dissidents Criticise Free Trade Agreement with 'Racist, Imperialist' New Zealand

Chinese dissidents are condemning the recent Free Trade Agreement between their country and New Zealand - and at least one senior figure within China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems to share their views.

Li Ho, a veteran spokesman for China's underground Real Socialism Party, has called the Free Trade Agreement a 'shameful sellout' which will blacken China's international reputation and help New Zealand's government divert attention away from its role in the oppression of indigenous peoples.

'China is a Third World country with a proud history of fighting and defeating imperialist invaders', Li pointed out. 'We fought the British in the nineteenth century, and in the twentieth century we fought the Japanese and the Americans. We inspired and assisted the struggles against white rule in South Africa, Rhodesia, Malaya, and Indonesia, at a time when the Western nations backed the racists. China has never supported an American or European war of aggression', Li pointed out. 'Now, though, we're jumping into bed with the government of a country that was founded on invasion and colonisation, and has a long and ongoing history of supporting Western imperialism'.

Li noted that the New Zealand state only established itself by destroying independent Maori nations in the Waikato, Parihaka, and the Ureweras in a series of nineteenth century wars. In the twentieth century, Maori faced many forms of institutional discrimination: in 1907 their traditional religion was outlawed, for decades their language was banned in schools, and until the 1960s they were forbidden to sit on juries when white people were being tried. New Zealand has also contributed troops to a long list of wars of neo-colonial aggression overseas. 'They fought against the peoples of Korea, Malaya, Borneo, and Vietnam', Li pointed out.

Today, New Zealand troops are part of the bloody and unpopular US-led occupation of Afghanistan, and play a leading role in the occupation of East Timor, Li noted.

At home, the Clark government has reinforced the legacy of the wars of the nineteenth century by 'launching new armed raids on the Tuhoe people' and 'quashing the rule of law and stripping rights to the seabed and foreshore from Maori', Li said. According to Li, New Zealand wants to 'use this agreement to boost its prestige in the Third World' by associating itself with 'the proud anti-imperialist record of China'.

Li was also worried about the role of Chinese companies in the Rugby World Cup scheduled to be held in New Zealand in 2011. 'The rugby balls used in this event will probably be manufactured in China', he said. 'Do we really want to give material support to an event that will be used by the New Zealand government to promote a false sense of national unity that disguises the ongoing oppression of a colonised people?' Li called on the Chinese people 'not to forget New Zealand's racist and imperialist history'.

Li Ho's opposition of the Free Trade Agreement has been echoed by Bin Dao, a senior bureaucrat in China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bin, a controversial figure who regularly represents China at glitzy international summits, says that he will not support the Free Trade Agreement because 'it compromises Chinese sovereignty' by allowing in cheap New Zealand products that could undermine the burgeoining dairy industry in northern Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. Critics are calling on Bin to resign over his remarks, which are widely seen to be unacceptably undiplomatc.

Food for thought?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good tongue in cheeck article and thought provoking.

But, though you do a good job in pointing out New Zealand's shameful moments in history and the bad mistakes it is currently making, you don't really venture an opinion on the current free trade deal with China (how it will effect NZ - you haven't yet put the other side - though I'm guessing you haven't b/c so many others have).

Will the current free trade deal help Maori and issues around soverienty? China's history isn't all bad but does that excuse their current human rights violations?

I don't have a problem with NZ dealing with China (trading yes, but I'm still not convinced a free trade deal will be good for NZ workers) but NZ govt is being weak by not raising the human rights issues with a stronger voice.

Maybe Maps you could give us your analysis of the situation in Tibet - parallels to NZ colonialisation...

10:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2008 will be the end year.

3:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bizarre. Pot calling kettle imperialist.

The point about NZ is valid and parallels between Tibet and NZ have been made in the news media.

The stuff about China not supporting Western imperialism is laughable - no sh*t, USA doesn't support Chinese imperialism either.

China is getting a piece of the neo-imperial action in Africa (eg Angola) just like everyone else.

Han Chinese practice cultural genocide against the indigenous people they have colonized - Uyghurs, Mongolians, and others. Tibet is photogenic and it has His Holiness so it gets all the western attention.

3:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'The stuff about China not supporting Western imperialism is laughable'

Not if you were African in the era of white rule.

4:00 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

BY and large China has not "committed" any human rights violations that we in NZ should pay attention to. China a has wonderful record of great international relations (and a marvelous revolutionary history) - there are some quite dangerous dissidents in China who want to destroy that great nation...

The arguments of relative 'goodness & badness' would go on forever - we need to support a stronger nation - very civilised - very progressive and sharp (they have never invaded or bombed as the US and the British do - they work more by diplomacy and communication skills and they provide real (as against the US-British ersatz) - contra the very corrupt US and European nations - Helen Clark has done the right thing.

(The US is collapsing in on itself in hopeless quagmire of corruption, immorality, and general degeneration.) (Enron, Louisiana, Guantanamo,AbuGraib - ad infinitum.) The US economy for these and other reasons is failing rapidly - China is rising.

Eventually we may see Labour detaching almost completely from the US - we need to keep trading with all these people - but that doesn't mean they are not open to criticism.

If "things wrong" with countries we traded with were important we wouldn't trade with anyone.

The US bombs Iraq and Afghanistan (since 1945 how many deaths of citizens, directly or indirectly, have the US Imperialists been responsible for? My estimate is in the millions - more than Hitler's regime - China? Virtually none - we keep trading with the US. Japan kills the poor old whales - we keep trading; all the Capitalist nations including NZ benefit from the fact we have, aids, disease, & starvation wage rates every where (Africa, India, Indonesia etc etc) - we keep starving and exploiting (exporting from or using their labour) these countries (and inside the US massive exploitation of workers takes place - their is a huge poverty belt in the US and the so called "developed" nations also - - this is called reality; and so on - fill in the list. It makes no difference who we trade with - business is business. We keep trading.

The US - "The Glorious West" - needs to keep out of other peoples' internal affairs.

This anti Tibet stuff is probably inspired by the CIA. It is trivia. China need Tibet (and most Tibetans - the poor - ordinary Tibetans - support China) just as the US needs Turkey (and other places - Britain and Japan for example - and Israel) etc to keep the missiles there. If China weakens they will be attack as Iraq -the US Imperialists only attack weak nations China is a potential bulwark against US-British, Russian ,Japanese,and even Indian aggression in that area where the oil is - Iran etc nations. Tibet has always been a part of China. I support the Chinese Government completely.

NZ also as -with Australia and other such nations has a pretty poor record toward Maori etc - those in glass houses...

We need to get on with developing NZ's economy to a position of strength.

10:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Taylor is a very pure Maoist.

I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the handful of people who were involved in the so-called Perfected Communist Party in the 1970s. It was a very extreme splinter group which denounced Mao for being insufficiently Maoist and set up a bookshop for a few months in the CBD.

I clearly remember Taylor's Maoist friends holding up pictures of the Great Helmsman at a demonstration in support of the Gang of Four in 1978. Some of them subsequently became Dengists. Not Taylor, obviously.

Bob Feith

10:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not if you were African in the era of white rule."

What if you're African NOW?

You need to bone up on your African politics, Anon. There's a lot more to it than apartheid in twentieth century SA.

1:00 pm  
Blogger maps said...

I am in favour of Tibet's right to independence and opposed to the rulers of China, whose present ideology I see as a nightmarish mixture of the very worst aspects of Stalinism and neo-liberal capitalism.

What I was objecting to in that little satire was the rather smug assumption by the Greens and others that the Free Trade Agreement with China was some sort of stain on New Zealand's 'good name'.

One of the peculiarities of Kiwi nationalism is the way that it is tied up with a certain type of pseudo-internationalism - with a pride in New Zealand's supposedly progressive role in geopolitics, our supposed neutrality, and our supposed record of acting as a 'peacemaker' in conflicts between and within foreign nations.

I think this sort of pride is, to put it mildly, misplaced. We are actually an economic colony of the US and Australia and an enthusiastic supporter of US foreign policy, especially in the Pacific. We have a long history of being on the wrong side in wars of national liberation, and our country was founded on the violent expropriation of a series of Maori nations.

Compared to us, China actually does have some foreign policy achievements to boast about. Which country was on the right side and which on the wrong side of national liberation struggles in South Africa, Portugese Africa, Vietnam, Malaya, and Indonesia?

There are blemishes on that record, of course, particularly in the '70s, when Mao's idiotic Three Worlds policy led China to support
Pinochet in Chile and other pro-US dictators as bulwarks against the 'imperialist' Soviet Union.
In the late '70s and early '80s China's clones in the New Zealand left (including, for a while, dear old Hone Tuwhare) actually supported the Anzus Treaty with the US on similar grounds.

I'm quite prepared to believe that the way China behaves in places like Africa today is driven by the sort of imperialism we usually identify with the US and other Western powers. But I don't think China's support for national liberation struggles and for many progressive governments in the Third World in the decades after World War Two can be described as imperialist, anymore than Soviet policy in places like Cuba can be covered by the theory of imperialism.

Imperialism is what happens when the capitalist class based in one nation exports capital to and imports profits from another, less developed nation. Imperialism is about the extraction of cheap resources and the exploitation of cheap labour to make superprofits in poor countries which are sent back to the imperialist country distributed amongst that country's ruling class, and also - through higher wages and the 'social wage' provided by the welfare state - to its other classes. This process is, of course, often facilitated by military power.

Can China's aid to the Angolan struggle against white minority rule be called imperialist? Can China's or the Soviet Union's aid to Cuba in the '60s be called imperialist? It was Portugal which played an imperialist role in Angola, and US imperialism which threatened Cuba. Cuba and states like Angola were actually drains on China and the Soviet Union (eventually, of course, Angola was a drain on Cuba, too!)

We can understand this point properly if we realise that neither China (until the '80s) nor the Soviet Union was capitalist. Both were states where capitalism had been abolished but a bureaucracy ruled over the ordinary workers and peasants.

This bureaucracy was repressive and could be very brutal to its subjects. But its power came from the revolution it had usurped. For that reason it would sometimes play a progressive role internationally by confronting the US and other imperialist states in places like Cuba and Angola.

The leadership of the Soviet Union and China was like the bureaucratic and thuggish leadership of a strong but undemocratic trade union.
Such a leadership can repress its own membership, but it also recognises that it must take on the employers and defend the union as a whole from attacks from outside, if it is to retain its own power.

What I have been outlining is the classical Trotskyist theory of the Soviet Union and similar states as degenerated/deformed workers' states. This theory has a lot of problems and anomalies (don't all theories that haven't become empty dogmas?) and badly needs refining and updating (you do it), but it is superior either to the one-sided Maoism Richard promotes or the equally one-sided Cold War liberalism some of the anonymous commenters promote.

4:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh great. So you want a *multi-sided* Maoism?

6:06 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I agree with a lot of what Maps says here (I think Maps underestimates the multinational nature of Economic Imperialism though - the power struggle inter and also the cooperation intra the various Bourgeois nations) - and the USSR rapidly moved towards capitalism and even worked WITH the US on many things - but that is a complicated matter) but to answer Comrade Feith - I'm not a 'Maoist' - it is true I was very very interested in Maoism in the late 60s to 70s.

I'm not saying BTW that Tibetans should be massacred (if they are being) or that China shouldn't eventually give them sovereignity -for me the timing is not right and I suspect US and British (and other International capitalist hypocrisy) behind this -as well as naive liberalism) I feel it is very much Chinas business and Tibet's; not ours or anyone else outside those countries ...

Something has to be cleared up - I may have Maoist ideas - but I don't follow any political party or theory - I can see the "bad" things about China - I am not deluded that one day they could not become as dangerous an Imperialsit Power or Terrorist State as the US is now - the truth is that the USSR, and the US, backed by Japan and other "Western" nations were the major Imperialist Powers. I am remembering my reading of Lenin on what Imperialism is.

But I don't worship Mao or Lenin or Trotsky or anyone -I am interested in Mao's philosophy -I haven't read Trotsky but I would do given time - I realise that the USSR was soon what is called "revisionist" - basically as described here by Maps (but the process started before Lenin died or Stalin gained power)...and of course the US is not all "evil" I am talking about the mechanics of Imperialism.

Also the reality of world politics - some of the good things done by China were quite genuine - some were for sound reasons of investing in their own political and economic future...I was never in the Communist Party - I did think of joining...

I moved away from politics per se until Maps himself moved that way but more so since 2001 that is 9/ had a strange effect on me - at the time I was trying to "be a-political".

8:30 pm  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

Interesting debate. I agree largely with Scott, except that while I think the Tibetan people do suffer from national oppression for leftists to call for Tibetan independence at the current juncture would mean a de facto alliance with US and NATO Imperialism.

Over at The Spark blog there's a similarly heated argument running on the Tibet issue and the position socialists in NZ should take in relation to it: (just scroll down to the "recent comments" section)

12:09 am  
Blogger Skyler said...

Hi Tim,

the Tibetan independence movement isn't controlled by the US, nor even the Dalai Lama (who doesn't actually call for independence!), doesn't represent a privileged part of the Chinese Empire, doesn't threaten the rights of other national groups, and isn't destabilising a progressive government. I see no reason not to support the right of Tibetans to independence, then.

If you're worried about being associated with Bush, why not just get creative with the sloganeering, and say something like 'Free Tibet - no illusions in the US' or 'Chinese and Western hands off Tibet'?

As one of your interlocutors in the thread you refer us to points out, though, the real issue isn't one of slogans, but of history. What happened in Tibet in the '50s and '60s? Did the invading Chinese create a progressive Tibet in the late '50s and '60s or did they oppress the Tibetans? You've expended a great deal of energy quibbling about slogans, but I don't see you addressing this key question (did I miss something? It was a long thread!).

I'm no expert on the subject but, as your mate pointed out, the sanguine narrative of progress painted in The Spark article sounds suspiciously like the 'white man's burden' apologies for European colonialism we hear so often from right-wingers in the West. Based on what we know about the impact of Mao's rule on China in the '50s and '60s, I find it rather difficult to imagine he created anything very pleasant in Tibet.

The question of whether the original Chinese invasion of Tibet was progressive largely determines how we react to many of the events being reported from Tibet today. The Spark article begins by noting that Tibetans brutally attacked Han and Muslim immigrants during the recent disturbances. How do we interpret these attacks, though?

If the Han are responsible for bringing the light of progress to Tibet, then the attacks must seem simply barbaric. But if the Han have been the oppressors of Tibetans, and even ordinary Han have benefitted from the national oppression of Tibetans, then the attacks can be seen in a difefrent light. They are obviously still not a good thing, but they can be compared to the slaughter of white civilians during the Indian war of Indepdence in 1857, during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, and during the Maori wars against colonisation. Remember Fanon and Sartre on the violence of the colonised towards the coloniser.

Because of the sanguine view of the Chinese invasion of Tibet it promotes, The Spark article surely gives most readers the impression that the attacks on Han were senseless and barbaric. Once again, there's an unfortunate echo of Western apologies for colonialism there.

I'm sorry to have disagree with you on this subject, because I am firmly in favour of most of the political arguments you make, and wish you all the best getting elected to parliament this year! ;)

10:16 am  
Blogger maps said...

Oops sorry, that was Maps in the last comment, not Skyler!

10:20 am  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

I'm not so sure that having a positon for or against the PRC's orginal annexation of Tibet *necessarily* determines one's position on whether to support Tibetan independence today (although I can understand why it suits the interests of some confessional Trotskyist sects such as ISO to insist that this is so).

As you will have noticed on the Spark discussion thread, I made reference to the situation of the Kosova Albanians which the West was so anxious to liberate by launching a war against Serbia in 1999. Socialists at that time opposed Kosovan independence, despite recognising the genuine oppression suffered by the Kosova Albanians, because they did not want to place themselves objectively on the side of Western imperialism.

Is the situation in Tibet today really any different?

2:45 pm  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

I should add by way of a "personal disclosure" that I am of a pro-Trotsky, not Maoist disposition in terms of the historical debate in the socialist movement. However I am pretty much agnostic on the question of whether or not the PRC's intervention into Tibet in the 1950s constituted an "invasion" - I think misguided yes perhaps, but certainly not an act of imperialist aggression.

2:49 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Is there actually any Western government that supports Tibetan independence? Aren't they all calling for 'restraint on all sides' and so on and so forth?

But I'm not really too worried about all the ritual position-taking by people and groups that are not, as you point out, in a position to have any influence on events.

What I object to is the use of a certain teleology of history and a phony rhetoric of 'progress' to dehumanise people like the
Tibetans (or the Maori, or the Iraqis) who get in the way of 'progress'.

The article you refer to wheels out dubious-sounding stats about Tibetan life expectancy and rises in living standards to justify a Chinese occupation which is pretty obviously wildly unpopular amongst the Tibetans themselves. Don't they get a say? The article says that massive Han settlement of Tibet might be a good idea. Isn't it up to the people of Tibet to decide that? Didn't democracy have something to do with socialism at some point?

That article reminds me of the claims for the ennobling nature of the enclosures and the Industrial Revolution that EP Thompson tilted against, or Niall Ferguson's argument that the Brits helped out India in the long run because they built railways, or the speeches John Howard gave about how Aboriginals should be thankful for being colonised because they now have access to running water and the combustion engine and so on.

In each case, the experiences, beliefs, and opinions of the people being 'modernised' are airbrushed.
The notion that they might have been able to administer their own 'modernisation' is never investigated. We know where all this can lead:

The Andy Newman post you refer to is even worse (and I do like some of Newman's posts, especialy when he talks about science and philosophy). Newman goes back to the discredited ideas about historic and non-historic peoples put forward by the young Engels and Marx and then argues that the Tibetans can't ever be a nation because they'd always be economically weak and dominated by big imperialist powers.

If that was the litmus test, then none of the anti-colonial campaigns in the Pacific would have been worth supporting. Tibet would be a superpower besides East Timor, Samoa, the Cooks, Vanuatu and so on. Were we wrong to champion the independence of those peoples?

People like Andy Newman ought to try to learn from Marx, who repented his earlier Eurocentrism and became an advocate for the iroquois Federation and other indigenous responses to colonialism as models for Western socialists:

3:39 pm  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

Well the fact that the US government is actively funding Tibetan independence groups such as the Tibetan Youth Congress, as well as the threat of French president Sarkozy to boycott the Olympics would certainly seem to indicate that the Western imperialist powers are *very much* interested players in the current crusade against China.

Regarding litmus tests for which nationalities merit support in terms of calls for self-determination, my personal view is that there is no rigid formula that can be applied universally, however her are a few factors which need to be considered when looking at each case:

- is self-determination likely to increase or decrease divisions among the working class?

- is there a common territory which would actually make a separate nation state viable? (especially relevant when thinking about Maori sovereignty in NZ)

- will support for self-determination objectively strengthen or weaken the position of Western imperialism?


5:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, one nation based on oppression of minority peoples (slightly longer ago) crticises another with the same, but more recent, history. That's a criticism that could be made for every country on earth that I know of. On the topic of a flood of cheap dairy produce into China: New Zealand couldn't provide even a tenth of the demand. But they can, and I hear will, provide investment and agritech. It's up to the Chinese government to control the investments so that Fonterra don't end up controlling too much of the Chinese dairy industry. And I see that as a concern with execution, not a problem with the agreement itself. Besides, China already has FTAs with other nations, including many with worse 'oppressive' histories than NZ's.

6:00 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Hamished - yes - well put. Tibet has always been a part of China.

The Chinese aren't good (necessarily) for Tibet - Tibet has to be sacrificed - as a B - say - is sacrificed in a chess game so the Queen and Rooks can crush the craven King. So China is still too some extent a bulwark against US and Russian Imperialism.

The US keep raving about democracy and freedom - they have become obscene terms in my book now....

Is there a massive war of liberation going on in Tibet? No. It is not analogous to India or Vietnam.

Sacrifice and win is the theme for today...

7:36 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home