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A Diplomatic Dilemma: Kowtow or Confront?

datePosted on 17:53, June 18th, 2010 by Pablo

The manhandling of Green Party leader Russell Norman by Chinese security guards as they escorted a high-level delegation into Parliament raises some thorny questions for the government. Norman was protesting in favour of a free Tibet when his flag was taken from him and he was shoved to the ground. Technically speaking, he was exercising his democratic right to free speech and protest on parliament grounds, so the minute the guards laid hands on him they were guilty of assault. Of course, it remains to be seen if Norman did anything to provoke the guards reaction, such as by rushing at the visiting officials or uttering threats (neither of which appears at this juncture to have happened). Some commentators believe that he deserved what he got because he was being provocative merely by protesting , or because the whole episode was a PR stunt anyway. Even so, if the assault on him was provoked by his holding the flag or shouting “free Tibet”  rather than him posing an immediate physical threat to the delegation, then the guards were in fact violating his rights as well as NZ criminal law and parliamentary protocol. So what is the government to do?

China is now the second largest trading partner of NZ, which has secured the first bilateral free trade agreement between China and a Western country. The National government has worked hard to deepen ties with the PRC, to the point that it is working on the details of a military exchange program with the Asian giant and has not opposed the sale of strategic assets to Chinese consortia. In the past the 5th Labour government has coordinated with visiting Chinese delegations to prevent protesters from getting close to the visitors. There is, in other words, a history of NZ officials working to appease Chinese sensitivities about protest and dissent within a larger context of improving relations between the two countries.

But there has never been a direct confrontation between members of a Chinese entourage and NZ citizens, much less a shoving match between Chinese nationals and an MP inside of parliament itself (as far as I know previous protests by Ron Donald never escalated this far). So a precedent is about to be set. If the NZ Police charge the security guards with assault, or if the government declares them personae non grata and expels them, then NZ runs the risk of having these strengthening ties disrupted by a Chinese diplomatic backlash. Even of short lived or partial, any retaliatory curtailment of trade and investment could end up costing NZ millions of dollars in lost revenue (and the jobs that go with it). But if the Police or government do nothing, then they send the signal that NZ’s commitment to civil rights is secondary to its commitment to trade. Some might see that as kowtowing to an authoritarian one party state in the pursuit of profit. So far the Police have said that they will investigate Norman’s complaint about the incident, but  that does not mean it will result in charges being laid.

One line of argument could be that NZ has to look at the broader and longer-term picture and not jeopardise a relationship that is crucial to NZ’s future prosperity over a trivial incident. A counter-argument is that NZ has more to lose if it abandons its democratic principles in favour of the ethereal promise of cash down the road. One rationale privileges principle over practicality; the other privileges the reverse.

So, what is to be done? What should be Labour and ACT’s responses be (as the majority opposition party and supposed champion of individual rights, respectively)? Should pragmatism triumph over principle, or should principle outweigh economic and diplomatic considerations? Is there a compromise solution in which face is saved all around? Will the Police go through the motions of an investigation but do nothing, and if so, what will National do by way of official follow up?

Less one think that this conundrum could only occur because of the nature of the Chinese, consider this scenario:

A protester attempts to approach US Vice President Biden and/or Secretary of State Clinton at the Beehive entrance in order to deliver a petition demanding closure of Camp X Ray at Guantanamo, or better yet, a summons to the International Court of Justice for complicity in US “war crimes” in Iraq and Afghanistan. What do you think the Secret Service response would be, and if the Secret Service agents surrounding the US dignitaries were to react in a physical manner, would the NZ Police or government press charges against them?

Such are the quandaries of being an elf amongst giants.

53 Responses to “A Diplomatic Dilemma: Kowtow or Confront?”

  1. toad on June 18th, 2010 at 22:15

    An interesting aspect of this, Pablo, is that New Zealand has a (supposedly) Independent Police Conduct Authority.

    A Police whitewash to appease the Chinese authorities can be challenged, although admittedly not within sufficient time to bring those responsible to justice.

    But it would be seriously embarrassing for the Police if they were subsequently found by the IPCA to have acted with undue delay in their investigations, given that there is extensive video evidence of the incident and that the alleged offenders are scheduled to leave New Zealand tomorrow.

  2. JD on June 18th, 2010 at 22:31

    Free Tibet?

    What was the nature of Tibet’s government before the Chinese invasion?

    How about free Sudan where 200,000 have died.

    What a grandstander.

  3. SPC on June 19th, 2010 at 00:18

    I doubt the police see protecting peoples right to protest as a priority, or even a particular issue for them. They only intervene in such cases to keep the peace. Besides the way some environment protestors were treated a few years ago under the anti-terrorism powers indicates some negative attitudes about those who question the exercise of authority by others.

    That said most people at protests where rival groups inter-act can expect worse and without anyone being charged.

  4. Pablo on June 19th, 2010 at 00:30

    JD: I realise that this may be a hard concept for you to comprehend, but the post was about the political dilemma the incident posed to the Police and govt, not about the merits of the protest.

    Please try to keep on thread or else do not bother to burden us with your trolling or inability to follow simple points of argument.

    Toad and SPC: I have no doubts that the Police will let this incident slide given that the accused will be gone by this time tomorrow. For the cops that spells “problem solved.” The question is weather the National govt will lodge a diplomatic protest. It should, but it will not.

  5. JD on June 19th, 2010 at 01:55

    So you don’t consider these valid questions worthy of discussion?

  6. Phil Sage on June 19th, 2010 at 05:56

    JD – Pablo writes a post and the discussion should be confined to the theme of that post rather than going off on tangents that may be important to the commenter but do not develop the point Pablo is making. He is not being rude, just focused. Trust me, I have experienced the same on a number of occasions. It is his blog, his rules

  7. jcuknz on June 19th, 2010 at 08:48

    deleted not to thread, by author.

  8. Tom Semmens on June 19th, 2010 at 08:58

    It is an outrageous abuse of our country’s institutions to manhandle an elected represenative on the steps of the house. The arrogance shown by this Chinese delegation in a foreign country should (but it won’t) shake the complacency of New Zealand’s legions of pacifists. However, as Pablo says, there is little we can do directly about this incident.

    But this David has more in his arsenal than just a stone. Personally I would now make a song and dance in the international media about the Chinese refusal to extradite to NZ the chief suspect in the Mohini case, and make as big a noise as possible about withdrawing cooperation with the Chinese (arguably illegal under BORA anyway, as Idiot/Savant at NRT points out) and try and shine an (unwelcome) spotlight on the mass judicial murder that goes on routinely in China (over 5000 people are judicially murdered each year in China, with their organs then harvested for an illegal trade).

    And make it quietly clear to the Chinese that this is related to their affront to the dignity and honour of New Zealand that occured yesterday.

  9. Hugh on June 19th, 2010 at 10:40

    Tom, and what will this achieve?

    The chance of China changing any of these practices due to New Zealand’s urging is precisely nil. If US criticism is ineffective, New Zealand criticism is going to be even less effective. In fact, given the thoroughly nationalist inclination of most politically engaged Chinese, foreign criticism of their human rights record is deeply unwelcome and tends to shift issues from ‘what should we do about Tibet/Falun Gong/human rights generally’ to ‘Should we do what foreigners tell us to’?

    If Sweden or Ireland or some other country with a good human rights record started criticising New Zealand and demanding we shift our position on, say, the Treaty of Waitangi, what would the likely response be?

    These calls for New Zealand to give China a bollocking aren’t policy oriented, unless making New Zealanders feel superior is a policy.

  10. Chris Trotter on June 19th, 2010 at 11:17

    A while back Pablo posted a very interesting essay on the importance of strategic awareness to a nation’s security. If ever there was a time for such awareness – surely this is it?

    New Zealand’s and Australia’s intensifying economic relationships with China are arguably the explanation for both countries’ relatively smooth transition through the first phase of the global recession.

    That we don’t have an unemployment rate the size of Spain’s, or a government deficit the size of Greece’s, is in large part due to the benign effect of China’s almost insatiable appetite for the exports of her neighbours.

    Long and careful thought should, therefore, be expended before engaging in any kind of activity which might threaten New Zealand’s relationship with China.

    Russel Norman might argue that his right to protest must be protected at all costs. But what about the right of thousands of New Zealanders to keep their jobs? What about the need of our government to collect sufficient revenue to keep schools and hospitals functioning effectively?

    Pablo rightly talks of elves and giants: as the elf in this story it behoves us to clever and nimble – not obdurate and flat-footed.

  11. Pablo on June 19th, 2010 at 12:18

    I would imagine that after the delegation has left the country, MFAT and the Chinese embassy will issue statements regretting the “misunderstanding,” which was a product of the security guards not knowing that Norman was an MP and feeling that he was too close to breaching the 2 meter security cordon around the Chinese VP. End of story, and the lesson about broader diplomatic concerns presumably will have been learned.

  12. Scott on June 19th, 2010 at 12:43

    But this David has more in his arsenal than just a stone. Personally I would now make a song and dance in the international media about the Chinese refusal to extradite to NZ the chief suspect in the Mohini case, and make as big a noise as possible about withdrawing cooperation with the Chinese (arguably illegal under BORA anyway, as Idiot/Savant at NRT points out) and try and shine an (unwelcome) spotlight on the mass judicial murder that goes on routinely in China (over 5000 people are judicially murdered each year in China, with their organs then harvested for an illegal trade).

    We have no extradition treaty with China, and probably never will, because of the Chinese tendency to shoot offenders. There is no legal mechanism in place to return the man to New Zealand. So this has nothing to do with the Chinese refusing to extradite the alleged murderer.

    Our sling has only pebbles. China has been attacked for decades over its human rights abuses, and by bigger international players than us.

    I also don’t buy I/S’s argument that police co-operation with China would be a breach of the BORA. Still, he raises a fair point. Should we be co-operating with China’s prosecution of the man if we know the death penalty is a possibility?

  13. DaveW on June 19th, 2010 at 12:59

    Key seems to be fairly indifferent to the shameful scene.
    So if manhandling an Mp on parliaments grounds if you disagree with his or her message is acceptable to him, he won’t mind if the same is given to Smith at the next ACC protest then will he?? :o)

    I’m picking he’d be Mr outrage at that which = hypocrite to me (although I’m picking smith to be too chicken to step outside again anyway).

    It’d be pretty pointless trying to arrest the minder now but some sort of diplomatic protest about it is warranted.

  14. SPC on June 19th, 2010 at 13:53

    Chris, are you seriously arguing that political protest in New Zealand needs to be sacrificed to protect trade with China?

  15. Chris Trotter on June 19th, 2010 at 14:54

    Not at all, SPC, I’m simply echoing Pablo’s advice concerning the need for small and highly dependent countries to demonstrate some “strategic awareness”.

    Russel Norman is the leader of a NZ parliamentary party. To me that entails a responsibility to think long and hard about the likely consequences of any and all of your public actions.

    New Zealand-China relations amount to a great deal more than a simple political photo-opportunity. They encompass the future prosperity of all New Zealanders living in a part of the world where Chinese influence can only grow.

    If a protest is thought to be in order, it behoves someone in Russel’s position to consider carefully the least offensive way of making it.

    I well recall the principled circumspection of his predecessor, Rod Donald, in relation to making the Greens’ concern for Tibetans known. His protest was calm and dignified and he accomplished it without a fraction of yesterday’s “drama”.

  16. SPC on June 19th, 2010 at 15:11

    Oh the return of fear into political consideration and the exercise of free will/free speech in solidarity for the rights of others. Here, as in China.

    And by the by, what was the cause of the drama?

    It was the action of the Chinese themselves that changed. Here, not in China.

    Why? Was it simply that Norman was closer than Donald was? Or that Norman was without the same police protection that Donald had?

    Is this because the Speaker did not know about this protest, or simply that no arrangement for a similar police presence was made.

    Was this a message to our government about sale of farmland?

  17. Chris Trotter on June 19th, 2010 at 15:31

    @SPC: If you examine the TVNZ video it is far from clear who “threw the first punch” – so to speak.

    As others have noted over the past 24 hours, those assigned to protect a senior foreign dignitary have a job to do and, I’m sorry, but Russel wasn’t making that job any easier.

  18. Ag on June 19th, 2010 at 16:41

    I don’t see why the Chinese would care if we told them off. Are they going to make trade difficult with us?

    Of course not, since China does not trade with us to be nice, but because they have an economic and political interest in doing so.

    The Chinese are in the same position as us: it is not worth losing trade over a symbolic spat.

  19. SPC on June 19th, 2010 at 17:34

    Chris, well we do agree on the fact that those organising Chinese diplomatic visits and the Chinese security staff have as a brief suppressing protests. But most people do not regard the interests of a political dictatorship in suppressing the rights of their citizens and limiting foreign protest about that as legitimate security work.

  20. Patrick on June 19th, 2010 at 23:25

    What price money?

  21. jcuknz on June 20th, 2010 at 10:11

    After a further 24 hours to consider the matter IMO Russel abused his position as an MP to place himself in a position in direct conflict with those whose job is to protect the Chinese leader. Firstly he should be disciplined by the Speaker and secondly grateful that the Chiese security exercised considerable restraint and didn’t give him a leathal karate chop. I see no problem of kowtow or confront here … we should be grateful Chinese security handled the matter so well. It is also logical that the Chinese security would be predominent around the visitor and NZ Police further away controlling the crowds .. a proper and sensible allocation of resources.
    Altogether a disgraceful exhibition of cluelessness in a diplomatic situation, but what can you expect from the Greens.

  22. Tom Semmens on June 20th, 2010 at 20:01

    Tom, and what will this achieve?

    Principles. It isn”t just this one incident, China has got form on this sort of thing.

    Once this country stood for something. Many of my relatives died fighting fascism, and I’ll be damned if we’ll kneel down to any brutal totalitarian dictatorship anywhere. Today we saw the utterly contemptable Murray McCully betraying every man who sacrificed his life for our freedoms – and who McCully with pious hypocrisy would have venerated on ANZAC day – by selling our freedom down the river for a handful of Chinese silver. We should stand for democracy in our own land, even if it hurts because our democracy has a price that has been paid for in blood. I say it again. No God damn representative of a brutal foreign dictator is coming to come to my country and display contempt for something so hard earned as our parliament. What goes around come around. McCully’s sellout will come back to haunt us, mark my words.

  23. Wayne on June 20th, 2010 at 22:32

    I suggest that one views the video before commenting:

    If you are security, and anyone tries to get too close to the boss, especially an idiot such as Norman, you prevent him from doing so.

    It was Norman who physically barged his way in (at 17 seconds into the video) and tried to insert himself between the Chinese security and the Chinese premier.

    From the video there is simply no evidence Norman was assaulted. Norman tried to use the flag to drape over the security people, and the security people ripped it off him – as they had every right to do.

    The security did not go and seek him out to confiscate the flag. It was Norman chasing after them.

    If Norman had done similar to Obama – trying to wave a rag right up to Obama’s face, I would bet everything I have that Norman would have been hospitalised, at the very least.

    In fact the police would have all the evidence they needed if there was indeed an assualt. There were witnesses everywhere. There is the video footage. If there was an assault, Chinese input would not have been required at all to establish the fact.

    One may happen to agree with Norman’s views – but surely just looking at the video, it is from any objective observers poitn of view, that if there was an assault – it was Norman assaulting the Chinese security guy by barging him out of the way, and that it was Norman who caused the ensuing ruckus over the flag.

    Norman has made an utter fool of himself —‘gimmee back my flag’

    And what do the China haters really want?

    For New Zealand to totally piss off China and jeopardize billions in trade, and thousands of jobs?

    Those who think that would be a reasonable price to pay in order to make a stand for ‘democracy’ and Tibet – just be honest and come out and say it.

  24. Wayne on June 20th, 2010 at 22:37

    Tom Semmens:

    In fact it was the direct revolutionary and ideological antecedents of the Chinese premier who visited yesterday who made the greatest sacrifices for our freedoms in the fight against fascism.

    Note the Chinese themselves were fighting the Japanese from as early as 1931. And it was specifically the Chinese communists who advocated a united front policy to effectively resist Japanese aggression, who made the famous Long March (a military retreat to begin with to be sure) to the north and established guerilla bases there to fight the Japanese – five years before Pearl Harbour. The majority of Japanese troops were tied down by Chinese troops, Communist and Nationalist.

    The West in fact had up untiil the 1930s always supported Japanese aggression against China. The 1919 May 4 movement was a huge protest against the Americans and British proposal at Versaille to hand over German territory in Shangdong China to the Japanese as reward for Japanese support in WWI. That is China was war booty to be shared among the victors of WWI.

    In fact it was this very support for Japanese aggression which turned the Chinese off Western bourgeois democracy and instead led them to embrace Marxism, and after its formal establishment, look toward the Soviet Union. Thus the May 4 movement is recognised by many historians as the begining of the communist revolution in China.

  25. SPC on June 21st, 2010 at 00:40

    Wayne, do you have any evidence that protest by individuals or groups in any nation has ever impacted on a trade deal with China? If not, why do you come to the conclusion that there is some risk of that from some protest?

    You surely are aware that the Americans arm Taiwan and that has not adversely impacted on trade between the two nations.

  26. SPC on June 21st, 2010 at 00:58

    Further, Do you really think standing up for the rights of fellow human beings is China hating (or the hating of any other country where concerns over human rights exist)? Protest and dissent is not related to hate crimes and that sort of argument is designed to marginalise and silence people’s free speech.

    As to the facts, the security guards approached Norman and covered his flag with the umbrella. This was not done to protect their leader but hide the protest from him as well as physically stand-over Norman to intimidate him. Then of course, as he resisted the flag being covered, the umbrella was used to assist in the taking of the flag off him. That realised and the flag placed on the ground under their feet, so he could not get it back, they returned to their actual job.

    You may like to toady and say his attempt to get his flag back and declared statement of purpose in doing this, “give me my flag back”, was somehow the aggressive act – the security guards were now exploiting their security role to prevent Norman getting his flag back and making his intended protest. But clearly it was not, the aggression was in the security phalanx being used to retain control of the stolen property. In that, the use of force to acquire the flag and the use of force to retain the flag speaks of the rule of China over Tibet to this day. It is not by consent of the people of Tibet. It is not of the consent of the people anywhere in China for that matter. For the people are denied the right to have a voice on such matters.

    The same truth spoken by the lone person before the tank in Tianamen Square, was spoken again in Wellington.

    The fact remains, if we sacrifice our liberties and the aspirations of fellow human beings for fear (and fear alone for trade is not at stake here), then two peoples will be the poorer for it.

    Anyhow, one people should not and does not have to sacrifice who they are as a people to trade with another.

  27. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 01:11

    SPC: Actually I don’t think there is any direct risk at all to trade from Norman’s protest in iteself. The Chinese will take it in their stride, and they are pretty sophisticated now in their understanding of the West.

    But then if Norman had been laid out, due to his own stupidity, it would certainly have created an embarassing situation for the NZ and Chinese governments, and any ill-feeling created would have a flow on effect to all areas. One isolated incident would have little effect, but certainly if the stance of the New Zealand government in respect to China followed what Norman wanted – ie outright condemnation of the Chinese, raising the level of stridency about human rights, Tibet etc, then surely the cumulative effect would have a very negative impact on relations.

    You surely are aware that the Americans arm Taiwan and that has not adversely impacted on trade between the two nations.

    Well there certainly was a threat to cancelling contrats with Boeing. Whether threats have turned into action, I am not sure of yet. But obviously if relations with the US are lousy and China can go to alternatives, such as Europe, they obviously will.

    And in any case NZ is a lot less important to China than the US. China completely jettisioning trade with the US would stuff themselves up, on the other hand the US does not want to piss off China too much — especially because trillions of US govt debt China holds. So there is a bit of an economic MAD relation between China and the US.

    However if China -NZ relations turned really bad, it would not be good for China, but surely a lot worse for NZ. Obviously NZ does not nearly have the importance to China that the US has, and surely the threshold for NZs pissing them off before retaliation ensued would likely be a lot lower than the same for the US.

    Protests are entirely normal, and the Chinese are use to them.

    However the fracas Norman obviously started, had nothing to do with freedom of speech, protest or whatever. It had everythign to do with security people simply doing their job and protecting their man.

    A security detail protecting Obama in similar circumstances would likely have reacted a lot more ferociously than the Chinese.

    Again. Try rushing the president, to wave something in a few inches away from his nose. You would run a very high risk of stopping a bullet.

  28. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 01:17

    As to the facts, the security guards approached Norman and covered his flag with the umbrella.

    Did you see the video. At 17 seconds Norman physically barges the security guard out of the way. It is Norman who should be charged with assault.

    Norman then tries to drape the flag, or at least flutter it right over the heads of the security detail. Of course they will try and rip it from his hands.

    The job of the security detail is to get between their man and anyone out to cause trouble – such as Norman.

  29. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 01:23

    Further, Do you really think standing up for the rights of fellow human beings is China hating (or the hating of any other country where concerns over human rights exist)? Protest and dissent is not related to hate crimes and that sort of argument is designed to marginalise and silence people’s free speech.

    In theory no, but in actuality yes. I’m not saying Norman is of that ilk.

    But much of the West’s unease with China is racial.
    For the first time in modern history a major non-white power, a former colonial subject, is on the rise and there are many in the West who do not like this one little bit. For many anti-Chinese government is a poor disguise for fears of the ‘yellow peril’.

    I mean, just listen to a typical talkback show – most peoples fears of China are indeed racial, and have nothing to do with so called ‘human rights’ concerns.

    Furthermore I’m sure a majority of New Zealander would be outraged if China suddenly thought itself qualified to pronounce on the Seabed and Foreshore issue, or child abuse, or whatever other internal issue of New Zealand.

    Yet Westerners think they can dictate to the Chinese about how to run China.

    That is the heigth of racial arrogance.

  30. SPC on June 21st, 2010 at 01:30

    Oh Wayne, if Russel was protesting over Iraq – Obama would probably come over and say he agreed but disengagement from an occupation burden could not be rushed. If it was G Bay, Obama would say he was trying to do something but their were legal issues.

    People could even throw shoes at Bush and not get shot, even Americans can tell the difference between a weapon and a flag.

    Can you name anyone shot by the American President’s security guards? Despite all the protests over all the years … .

    As to China using trade to suppress protest, all we have to fear is fear itself … . China has yet to evidence that it would sacrifice the means to its economic growth to project its own political interests. To do so would be an act of hypocrisy, after all they claim to have sovereignty over their internal affairs, so it would be some contradiction if they were to adopt an international trade policy premised on resort to use of economic power to protect their domestic political position.

  31. Ag on June 21st, 2010 at 01:37

    How can people stick up for the Falun Gong? It’s a nutty cult. Hell, if anyone wants to suppress Scientology, they can go for it as far as I am concerned.

  32. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 01:45

    Oh Wayne, if Russel was protesting over Iraq – Obama would probably come over and say he agreed but disengagement from an occupation burden could not be rushed. If it was G Bay, Obama would say he was trying to do something but their were legal issues.

    Protest is a totally different thing from disrupting a security operation. Again try rushing in between Obama and his security detail. The result would be obvious.

    However in the wider context of things your point is really quite absurd. The US, for their own foreign policy objectives (which never have anything to do with legitimately defending US territory) happily let half a million Iraqi children starve to death druing the 1990′s. And this was ‘worth it’ according to the US Secretary of State at the time.

    The reporter Lesley Stahl asked her “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” and Albright replied “we think the price is worth it“.

    Those Iraqi children obviously were not even old enough to know America is a country. Let alone protest.

    The US abuse of human rights worldwide (largely supported by the West, including NZ) makes the Tiananmen incident seem like a teddy bear’s picnic.

  33. SPC on June 21st, 2010 at 01:49

    Wayne, I note your attempt to blame Norman for any aggro and to link Norman’s stand for human rights of those in Tibet to some low rent racism. Then you conclude the conflation with the post-modernist line that western values such as human rights cannot be universal. The apologetics just get more desperate. Have you heard of the international convention, they are not deemed to be just western values.

    Of course a major point of contention here is whether Tibet is part of China or not, but the treatment of internal political prisoners is an international issue in any case.

    PS Norman is entitled in law to protect his property and try to get it back. Hiding the flag from view, taking it to the ground and taking it within their security corden was not protection of their leader, it was suppression of political protest near their leader. One would suspect that future visits will have improved protocol. A police cordon between MP’s making a protest and the Chinese security detail will probably exist in future, as it did when Donald made his protest.

  34. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 01:54

    Wayne, I note your attempt to blame Norman for any aggro and to link Norman’s stand for human rights of those in Tibet to some low rent racism. Then you conclude the conflation with the post-modernist line that western values such as human rights cannot be universal. The apologetics just get more desperate. Have you heard of the international convention, they are not deemed to be just western values.

    Yes – but the US tramples on human rights far more than China does or ever has does.

    It is the US which is hated throughout the world for their disdain for the human rights of non-Western peoples. Not China.

    What passport would more likely get you in physical danger while travelling in most places of the world –a US passport or a China passport?

    Anyway it is time to watch the game. I will respond to your post in fuller detail later.

  35. SPC on June 21st, 2010 at 01:57

    Wayne, do you not even see the duality to your position, somehow we should fear offending China over their human rights abuses because of the potential harm to our economic interests, but we should have done more to protest against the Americans … .

    No wonder you have to believe that Norman was in the wrong … and claim the security guards were not intending to avoid/suppress any protest … . So why did the Chinese leave rather than visit Victoria University … .

  36. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 04:40

    somehow we should fear offending China over their human rights abuses because of the potential harm to our economic interests, but we should have done more to protest against the Americans

    Huh??? Where on earth did I say that????

    You laud America, and your comments imply that America is somehow a more ‘moral’ power than China.

    That is completely controverted by the facts, even if we hold both powers to exactly the same standards.

    And all I said or implied was America is at least as deserving of condemnation for her human rights record as China, if not a lot more.

  37. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 04:56

    Then you conclude the conflation with the post-modernist line that western values such as human rights cannot be universal.

    Again, where on earth did I say that?????????
    You are obviously putting words in my mouth — simply to give yourself the opportunity to with your quote which reeks of pretension.

    Your writing is so typical of NZ 6th or 7th formers, or first year undergrads.

    Wow! You know the word ‘conflate’, the terms ‘post modernist’ and ‘duality’!!!! I suppose that everyone here is supposed to impressed, notwithstanding your poor grasp of logic.

    You are a complete ass. And quite dishonest as well.

    and claim the security guards were not intending to avoid/suppress any protest … . So why did the Chinese leave rather than visit Victoria University … .

    Simply because obviously they don’t want to get themselves tangled in an incident similar to the one Norman created.

    And by the way avoiding a protest is not the same as suppressing it.

    And even shielding one’s boss from the protest, or blocking the view, or in general inconveniencing a protest is entirely legitimate –as long as this is done within the law.

    And from the video it was completely obvious that no law was broken. At least on the Chinese side.

    We had at least a dozen witnesses on the scene, as well as Norman and New Zealand security personnel. If there really was any evidence of an actual assault, the police would hardly need the input of the Chinese to establish this fact. But even with the plethora of witnesses, with the cameras rolling, the police have come out and stated there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone from the Chinese side with assault.

    Freedom of speech does not mean people have to facilitate your protest – it just means there are no legal prohibitions to your protest. And others can do everything to obstruct your protest – as long as this is done within the law.

  38. Wayne on June 21st, 2010 at 05:16

    To SPC:

    Of course a major point of contention here is whether Tibet is part of China or not, but the treatment of internal political prisoners is an international issue in any case.

    There is no real major point of contention in respect of Tibet as part of China. At least not any more than there is ‘contention’ over whether Northland is part of New Zealand, or New South Wales part of Australia, or California part of the US.

    Tibet was part of China well before the United States, Australia, and New Zealand existed as colonies or states.

    In fact the legal status of Tibet as part of China is so well established that there is not one country in the world which does not recognise this to be the case, including every single Western nation.

    In fact the United States recognised Tibet as part of China well before the so called 1950 ‘invasion’, and US and British maps, well before 1950 showed Tibet as part of China.

    So there is no real debate, or anything that could legitimately substantiate any Tibetan independence claim. The Tibet issue is only an issue because Westerners never tire of looking for their latest mystical guru – in this case the Dalai Lama.

    I suggest you listen to some unbiased commentary on the status of Tibet, and the history of the Dalai Lama (a former terrorist bankrolled for over a decade by the CIA):

    Whether or not you accept the point of view expressed at the linked video, at the very least you need to be aware of other viewpoints – before running off at the mouth. Not doing so exposes you to be the fool you most transparently are.

    Your bossiness towards the Chinese is made even more arrogant by your appalling ignorance of the issues you seem to feel fit to pronounce upon.

    Say if some Chinese from the middle of Sichuan province, who did not understand a word of English, his only knowledge of New Zealand garnered from the Peoples Daily, and he suddenly decided to dictate to New Zealanders on how they should handle the Seabed and foreshore issue, would New Zealanders take him seriously????

    Of course not.

    And that is why you do not deserve to be taken seriously. That you expect Chinese people to listen to your demands of them, just shows you up to be the arrogant cultural chauvinist you most obviously are.

  39. jcuknz on June 21st, 2010 at 09:28

    So why did the Chinese leave rather than visit Victoria University … .

    I’d guess because after the Norman spark there would be considerable confragration at Victoria which we know is full of juvenile hotheads … that is part of the rite of passage of our young and their education process… but sensible to avoid if possible.

  40. jcuknz on June 21st, 2010 at 09:40

    So there is no real debate, or anything that could legitimately substantiate any Tibetan independence claim. .

    I would suggest that this ‘independance’ concept is a recent western thing which in most cases has led to disasterous results in both East and further west. Burma, Africa, Timor etc.
    But I think this thread is wandering away from Pablo’s origin as if we kowtow or protest as a nation. I think thanks is in order in a dignified non-kowtow manner for tolerating the silly actions of an extremist. I think the Americans would have been a lot less tolerant as pointed out above. Lucky Russell!

  41. Brent on June 21st, 2010 at 12:08
  42. China deserve more respect on June 21st, 2010 at 21:37

    Thanks for so many NZers who has given a fair interpretation and analysis of this “drama”. I have seen the video for several times. In my eyes: (1) Norman assaulted one of body guards first; (2) Norman behaved so provocatively and aggressively that his proposed “peaceful” protest were not “peaceful” any more; (3) Norman was the real perpetrator of the incident; (4) in my opinion he is not qualified as a politician in NZ; (5) It seems that, understandably, Norman is still complaining, adopting different avenues, to argue his vulnerable justification – “freedom of speech”. I think complaint should be submitted by Chinese government against him. (6) If Norman really wants to help China to go in a right direction, I strongly suggest Norman to use some time to study Chinese history and Chinese culture and learn, as a student, not as a teacher having a tendency of dictating other countries’ behavior, how to treat other people with respect and how to make China a better place.

    Other interrelated issues need to be raised:
    (1)Tibet was and is a part of China. That is almost unanimously recognised by every Government in the world. That is also a dominant view among Chinese people.
    (2) China did not invade Tibet. There is a peaceful agreement.
    (3) Chinese human rights record is not perfect, but is improving. China is not perfect, but not so bad.
    (4) Please encourage China to do more better things, not just criticise.
    (5) Western medias (including NZ) have a strong inclination to paint China in a negative, unattractive and biased way. Please present more balanced stories.
    (6) Please do not let hating Chinese and criticising China to become a fashion.

  43. Craig Ranapia on June 22nd, 2010 at 09:29

    Colin Espiner has an interesting blog on this

    Yes, it was “interesting” but not in a good way. Can’t help but wonder if Colin’s attitude would be rather different if Parliamentary Security was shoving annoying journos out of the way of MPs like Chris Carter…

  44. Pablo on June 24th, 2010 at 18:33

    Upon reading our Chinese commentator’s remarks I am struck again by how strongly defensive (if not jingoistic) many Chinese are about criticism of the PRC regime (and not, as many seem to believe, the Chinese people themselves). At least this correspondent admits the possibility of Chinese imperfection, which is a far cry from the usual response (which also reminds me of the “America love it or leave it” crowd).

    Good news is that KP is being read in China.

  45. DaveW on June 24th, 2010 at 21:08

    I suspect it’s more likely a Chinese student resident in NZ (unless you can track the IP address back to there??).

  46. Pablo on June 24th, 2010 at 21:12

    Dave: There is more than one Chinese commentator and as with everyone else, their IPs have been noted. One of them is in NZ.

  47. Wayne on June 24th, 2010 at 22:06

    In Australia the indigenous population is about 1 or 2%. As it is in Canada and the US.

    The indigenous in all of these countries are in a much more sorry state than the Tibetans, who are about 80% of Tibet population. Yet he does not say white people ‘swamped’ aborigines, or maori, or innuit, or native americans etc.

    Before I hear whites asking that the US, Canada, and Australia give up 1/4 of their respective territories for the exclusive use of their respective indigenous peoples, as he expects China to do for the Tibetans, they are nothing but racist hypocrites – asking and expecting of Asian people what they would not ask of and expect of white people.

  48. Wayne on June 24th, 2010 at 22:23

    Of course, it remains to be seen if Norman did anything to provoke the guards reaction, such as by rushing at the visiting officials or uttering threats (neither of which appears at this juncture to have happened).

    Pablo – watch the video (the extended one, not the abbreviated version shown on the news):

    At 18 seconds it is Norman who initiates physical contact and assaults the Chinese security dude. Then he idiotically flutters his flag over the heads of the security guy who then, well within his rights, opens his umbrella. The fracas was over in a few seconds and at absolutely no stage is there any evidence of an assault on Norman by the Chinese.

    Are you claiming the police shelved the matter due to government interference, and not through lack of evidence?

    If you are that is a very grave charge, and any government minister or police officer involved would be risking a massive scandal and dismissal from his or her position.

  49. Wayne on June 24th, 2010 at 22:26

    If Norman did nothing wrong, why are protesters normally kept behind barricades and cops when Clinton visits or any other Western dignitary? Because while demonstrating is fine, it is unacceptable for any dignitary from any nation to have to go through what Premier Xi went through the other day.

    Would any leader from any part of the world come to NZ if they ran the risk of a demonstrator running right up to their noses chanting and waving a rag inches from their nose?

    Of course not. And if they did the security people accompanying whatever dignitary would deal severely to such an idiot.

  50. Wayne on June 24th, 2010 at 22:34

    Upon reading our Chinese commentator’s remarks I am struck again by how strongly defensive (if not jingoistic) many Chinese are about criticism of the PRC regime

    They have a right to be defensive. How would New Zealanders feel if President Hu demanded an explanation from John Key when he visits China, on child abuse in New Zealand or when Maori will be given full rights to the seabed and foreshore, or when the leaky houses victims will be compensated?

    New Zealanders would be rightly outraged because that would be interference in the affairs of New Zealand.
    Not only that there is no way that any chinese sitting in China,not being able to speak a word of english would have any way of comprehending to any full extent New Zealand issues.

    What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If New Zealanders would not like China interfering in New Zealand’s internal affairs, then New Zealanders should not interfere in China’s internal affairs – and that includes Tibet, which is recognised as a legitimate part of China by the NZ government.

    It is simple. Just follow the golden rule.

  51. Ag on June 24th, 2010 at 23:10

    Then you conclude the conflation with the post-modernist line that western values such as human rights cannot be universal.

    Well, as a matter of fact they aren’t. To say that they could be is otiose, since any set of values could conceivably become universally held.

    Is your point that they are universally valid? They can’t be. Western liberalism is internally incoherent.

  52. Pablo on June 25th, 2010 at 11:33

    If it is true that Key apologised to the PRC over the incident, then we know what National’s default option is.

  53. steve lu on June 27th, 2010 at 20:51

    Yea give it back to the Dalai lama and his family again,they did such a great job the last time.So the American milatary have arrived in Israel,so it begins.Bend over and kiss it good by you sad pathetic self obsessed scriblers

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