Battered by the latest polls which show presumptive Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden pulling ahead by double digits, President Donald Trump has turned to attacking Biden’s competence and age as the economy shows little sign of revival ahead of the November elections. Biden is 77, Trump 74.
This weekend Twitter pulled another of Trump’s campaign messages. Also, the New York Times reported in great detail how White House aides, unskilled in public health, took control of Covid-19 data from the Centre for Disease Control and Management as the pandemic rages unchecked across much of the US.
Deaths are expected to reach 140,000 this week and the aim has been to shift the responsibility – and blame – from the White House to state governors.
Now Trump has taken another tack and is threatening to withdraw troops from South Korea unless Seoul stumps up with a bigger share of the costs. At present the South pays $30,000 towards maintaining each US soldier. Trump wants this doubled. Continue reading “Trump takes another tack in East Asia and threatens to pull American troops out of South Korea”
Our good friends from Beijing are at it again. China has done a deal with the state of Victoria under its “Belt and Road” project.
Infrastructure and other projects are under consideration. This has fired up the Australian Federal government — and the United States.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, hardly China’s closest friend in the US administration, has promised action against Canberra should telecommunications become involved.
The US and several western countries have blocked the Chinese telco manufacturer Huawei from involvement in 5G developments for government agencies, notably Defence.
NZ has taken the same approach following detailed examination by the GCSB. The problem stems from a Chinese 2017 law which requires companies to liaise with the many Chinese intelligence agencies and share any information gathered.
What concerns the US and Australia – and is being monitored from Wellington – are the Chinese tactics. Beijing went direct, it didn’t work through the Commonwealth Government.
We have been here before. Continue reading “China bypasses the govt in Canberra to engage in an infrastructural flirtation with Victoria”
Politics in the US aren’t for the faint-of-heart at the best of times but this year, with only six months to run to the elections, under President Donald Trump it has become a bizarre wonderland with the president changing tack at will and his prospects of re-election vaporising by the day as the economy slides rapidly downhill.
Viewed from NZ, the situation looks chaotic, changing daily, sometimes hourly, with no coherent vision beyond that of the medical experts and no evident US-wide strategy to contain (let alone defeat) the coronavirus, so the country might be in better shape.
No wonder NZ is so envied and PM Jacinda Adern so highly regarded across the US.
More than 1.2m people in the US have been infected with the coronavirus and by Thursday, more than 74,000 have died. Only in New York State, where the widely-respected Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo imposed strict controls, has the rate of infection reached a plateau.
Elsewhere across the US the virus continues to spread inexorably. Continue reading “Trump is banking on economic revival being better for his re-election prospects than a rising death toll”
Can Winston Peters, as he has done so often before, confound his critics? He has been under intense pressure over revelations in Matt Shand’s Stuff reports on donations channelled through the NZ First Foundation Trust.
But Peters insists the Electoral Commission, after investigating questions about loans made to the NZ First Party by the foundation will find that everything is in order.
And even if the commission were to find there has been a breach, could it derail NZ First? Or its leader?
After all, Peters has been here before—and survived.
Here at Point of Order we do not pretend to be experts on the ethics of political donations to NZ First any more than of those to other political parties. Or, for that matter, charging $1500 to those who want to attend a dinner in the presence of the PM?
What counts for the majority of voters when they cast their ballots is what, if anything, politicians have accomplished. Or what they promise.
Dispassionate observers looking at how Peters has performed both as deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs would mark him well. Continue reading “Funding fuss must be weighed against Peters’ ministerial performance – and on the world stage he has been acclaimed”
Shaking off the political unease stirred up by sexual harassment allegations by a Labour Party staffer in her department, PM Jacinda Ardern hopes to meet President Donald Trump in New York next week. This would be a first for her and will follow up on the meetings Deputy PM Winston Peters has had in Washington DC.
Continue reading “Ardern to meet Trump?”
South America a week ago; this week it’s Washington DC. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is on the move again, displaying an indefatigable energy level beyond many of his Cabinet colleagues.
In the US capital this week, he will address a major international conference called by the US on questions of inter-faith issues and problems. He is expected to outline the government’s approach to inter-faith issues in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks which drew immense coverage in the US. Continue reading “Peters in the US: he can’t offer NZ ships (if asked) but maybe an Orion could be sent to the Gulf”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits London this week and is expected to ramp up pressure on the UK government over its decision to allow China’s Huawei to provide part of its new 5G IT network. Pompeo will warn the British that, should this happen, it will have ramifications for the Five-Eyes intelligence network linking the US, UK, Australia, Canada and NZ.
Already the British decision has cost Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson his job after PM Theresa May accused him of leaking the 5G decision – something he has vigorously rejected. It has further split her Cabinet which already is riven by Brexit.
Why did the British Government embark on this seemingly challenging decision? In part because some elements in its security community reckoned Huawei’s 5G could be confined to the outer parts of its IT system – despite resistance from mainstream agencies including MI5 and MI6 and the knowledge that all Chinese companies are required by law to share information collected with national intelligence agencies.
However, a British academic, Trevor Taylor, a professorial research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London think-tank, in a recent paper offers another view.
Continue reading “UK’s Huawei decision and US reaction raises questions about industrial policies”
New Zealand may have been presented with a model to follow in dealing with the Chinese giant technology firm Huawei. According to London’s “The Economist” Britain has struck an artful compromise on Huawei and 5G, even though many Americans and other friends of Britain will be appalled by its decision and fear the country is being naive and toadying up to China..
But, in an editorial, The Economist reckons the UK’s measured approach to dealing with the controversial Chinese firm is a model for other countries.
“Britain’s decision matters: it is a member of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing alliance led by America, and was one of the first Western economies in which Huawei built a presence. Britain also has experience of electronic spying and knows Huawei well.
“Far from being a betrayal, Britain’s approach, of using the firm’s gear on the edges of 5G networks, under close supervision, offers a sensible framework for limited commercial engagement while protecting Britain’s security and that of its allies.” Continue reading “Spark will be cheered by endorsement of UK’s handling of the Huawei spying threat”
Deputy PM Winston Peters, who is heading to Washington this week to hold high-level talks, has been at pains to emphasise he wants to get the US more involved in the South Pacific.
Point of Order, which last month foreshadowed the visit, underlined then that Peters is taking a more hard-nosed line towards China, which has been extending its influence and aid into territories like Vanuatu, Niue and the Cook Islands.
This week, in announcing his talks with US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and other senior members of the US Administration, Peters went out of his way not only to say the US is is a “very close strategic partner for New Zealand”, but the two countries “enjoy a deep, long-lasting friendship that is based on shared interests and democratic values”. Continue reading “Peters is off to Washington to push for greater US involvement in South Pacific”
Forget the platitudinous UN General Assembly and those feel-good soft media moments. Life on the international stage is much harder and more complicated.
PM Jacinda Ardern confronted hard-nose regional politics at APEC and the regional assembly in Singapore. Few believe Malaysia’s PM Mahathir bin Mohamad’s broadside on China and the Pacific in front of the NZ media was a slip of the tongue. The wily 93-year-old (according to officials) knew exactly what – and why – he said what he did in public.
Malaysia, like many in the region, has measured the weight and cost of China’s beneficence in Asia-Pacific. Some of NZ’s closest allies suspect NZ has been unthinkingly close to Beijing in recent years. Continue reading “Jacinda’s confrontation with hard-nose regional politics”