Around the world, western governments are re-calibrating their foreign policy, strategic and economic settings to China. Tomorrow the British Cabinet will review and probably revoke an earlier decision to allow Huawei Technologies Co into the next 5G network over security concerns. NZ and Australia have already taken this step.
Over the weekend President Donald Trump says he doesn’t even think about a phase two of China-US trade policy. Washington has been angered by the new China-Iran trade and economic agreement, although critics say US embargoes are strangling much of Iran’s economic life and this has driven Tehran into Beijing’s embrace.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said the government is reviewing relationships over a wide range with Hong Kong in response to Beijing’s latest restrictions. Canberra is almost apoplectic, according to our correspondent, and its new defence strategic study paints a challenging picture of rising tensions requiring massive spending on new weapons, but doesn’t say from whom. No prizes for guessing.
The US currently has two aircraft carrier groups cruising international waters in the South China Sea and challenging China’s claimed hegemony. Recently Chinese fishing vessels have penetrated into Indonesian-claimed waters.
All this stems from China’s new and aggressive foreign policy, its suppression of human rights, uncertainty of how it handled the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak and its penetration into the Pacific. Beijing didn’t bother to consult Wellington before opening Belt and Road talks with Niue and the Cook Islands, both of whom have Wellington, by mutual agreement, look after foreign policy.
Washington DC is closely following NZ perspectives with high-level consultations. The Wall Street Journal has reported extensively on the National MP Jian Yang and his decision not to seek re-election to Parliament.
“Chinese-born NZ lawmaker who once taught English to Chinese spies said he won’t run for re-election, a decision that comes as many countries re-calibrate policies in response to Beijing’s growing influence,” the paper reported.
It noted he has been an MP with the “main conservative National Party” for nine years.
“In 2017, he acknowledged that he didn’t declare on his NZ citizenship application his past affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party or his work teaching spies in the country.
“Mr Yang has denied he was a spy and hasn’t been investigated for espionage. He said he merely taught English to spies at a military college in China. But his continued involvement in politics raised concerns about Beijing’s sway in NZ.
“Most recently he attracted scrutiny for refusing interviews with the country’s main English-language media outlets. In March, he declared his candidacy for elections in September only in a Chinese-language statement republished by Chinese media outlets.
“Foreign-policy experts said his position was becoming increasingly untenable, as countries grow warier of China’s influence.”
The Wall Street Journal quotes Professor Anne-Marie Brady, described as a China expert and political-science professor at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury:
“In the end, Jian Yang became a national and international scandal and a political liability, which the current National Party leadership could no longer afford to ignore.”
Her research detailed Yang’s alleged role in united front activities, referring to a unit in China’s ruling Communist Party that engages community organizations abroad to collect intelligence, counter dissidents and generate support for other Beijing objectives. Professor Brady’s research also highlighted his role as a major political fundraiser in the Chinese community.
The WSJ says National Party leader Todd Muller thanked Yang for helping “the Chinese community in New Zealand better understand and participate in politics.”