China, Tibet, and the FTA

The people of Tibet have had a bad run - but Chinese propaganda saying that the people of Tibet must be repressed and that they can't have autonomy because of their history is merely a justification for tyranny.

For New Zealanders, the most worrying thing is the chilling the level of control that subsequent governments here have handed to the brutal Chinese government. Not being able to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, leaders not being able to meet the Dalai Lama (John Key promised he would, but it seems to have been yet another lie), and allowing Chinese security to take our our Parliament and assault and silence Green Party co-leader Russel Norman are all examples. Apparently the Chinese government even gets a veto on what billboards go up in this country.

NACT and Labour always stand up and say, 'all these things are worthy sacrifices for the great god of free trade, which in turn will appease the great god of economic growth'. The truth is that the New Zealand economy doesn't need growth right now - it needs sustainability and stability. The Free Trade Agreement with China is actually slowly destroying the New Zealand economy. Free trade proponents point to the theory of Competitive Advantage, and say 'free trade is good, because some things can be more efficiently produced in other countries, and free trade can make us more efficient overall'. The theory of Competitive Advantage is true. But that is not what drives the vast majority of our trade with China at all.

The real reason behind most of our trade with China is because they have very lax labour laws, and very lax environmental laws. Businesses in China can destroy the environment without paying for it. The Chinese environment and the rights of the Chinese people belong to the all the Chinese people, but the government there gives it to the manufacturers for free (in other words, they subsidise manufacturing, by not making them pay the true cost). This means that cheap-and-dirty goods can be manufactured in China, and shipped here (which is actually less efficient overall, because of the cost of shipping, but it is still cheaper because manufacturers there don't have to pay to minimise environmental impact, or to give workers decent pay or rights). This in turn undermines much of our economy; hardly anyone makes clothes here anymore. Our main exports are raw materials - and much of our land and capital is foreign owned now, due to National and Labour's fondness for 'economic growth' (read: policies which inflate land prices, so we collectively have to pay more and more in interest to foreign banks) and overseas 'investment in our economy' (read: foreigners buying up everything we own).

I for one am sick of governments that keep surrendering up our autonomy to China for a FTA which only harms our economy and pressures governments to harm our environment - and that is why I'm giving my party vote to the Green Party at the next election.