New Zealand business, officialdom and Government view New Zealand’s relationship with China in terms of export markets and as the panacea for New Zealand’s economic issues. China sees New Zealand in geopolitical terms, which also happens to coincide with U.S. policy since the days of the Cold War. Russia remains the issue for U.S. and Chinese hegemony, and New Zealand has naively placed itself in the middle of super-power global politics of which it understands nothing. Recently Prof. David Shambaugh visited and warned that New Zealand was being “naïve” in its relations with China.

New Zealand’s official relationship with China began under the Labour Government of Norman Kirk when diplomatic relations were established in 1972[1], the same year as the Kissinger-Nixon ‘ping pong diplomacy.’[2] Although Kirk aimed to establish an independent direction for New Zealand’s foreign policy, it cannot be a coincidence that New Zealand’s official relationship began in the same year as the American initiative, which might more properly be regarded as the plutocratic initiative to finally begin the integration of China into the “world community.”[3] At the very least, the U.S. initiative was the beginning of China’s entry into the “new world order” as it is now termed.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping shakes hands with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Auckland, New Zealand, on June 18, 2010. (Rao Aimin/Xinhua)

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping shakes hands with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Auckland, New Zealand, on June 18, 2010. (Rao Aimin/Xinhua)

In 1976, the New Zealand relationship with China as part of a broader U.S. Cold War agenda to “contain the USSR” was formalized with the visit to Peking of the National Government’s Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. Muldoon was avidly anti-Soviet, made a name for himself as a populist opponent of “communist influence in the trade unions,” an anti-communism that was nonetheless compromised in the services of the USA’s pro-China, anti-Soviet policy.

It was under Muldoon’s regime that Soviet Ambassador Vsevolod Sofinsky was expelled in 1980 for allegedly passing $10,000 to George Jackson, National Secretary of the Moscow-aligned Socialist Unity Party in 1979. Diplomatic relations were not fully re-established until 1984.[4]

When Muldoon travelled to Peking in 1976 to meet Mao Zedong the agenda was plainly stated. China was eager for New Zealand to maintain its alliance with the USA and Muldoon as an anti-Soviet Cold Warrior was eager to oblige. Muldoon reported that:

Mr Hua supported New Zealand and Australian moves to strengthen their defences and hoped that the U.S. would join the two countries on the basis of equality to deal with the “polar bear” [USSR]. In other words, he supports the ANZUS concept we have explained to him[5]

Since the implosion of the USSR, Russia is attempting to regain its former authority; the USA is playing the same Cold War game, and China is continuing on the same course, albeit its relationship with Russia in the guise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization[6] is as durable as it was under the cynically named 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance[7] which reduced China to colonial status and which was dramatically repudiated by China’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979.[8] The crucial difference between the two treaties today, however, is that it is China that is getting everything its own way. The situation will not last, any more than the Hitler-Stalin Pact was designed to endure.

The USA has not relented in its antagonism towards Russia because that is the geopolitical bloc that has the potential to challenge U.S. hegemony,[9] whereas China has long been seen as a de facto partner that certain influential interests want to see become de jure in a “new world order.”[10]

Hence we have seen in recent years Soros/NED[11] subversion in the former Soviet bloc states, in particular the “color revolutions.” The U.S. has pursued a policy of bringing the former Soviet bloc states into the NATO orbit in quick succession with plans to establish a missile system in Poland. The containing Cold War partnership with China makes the encirclement of Russia almost complete, the problematic factors being Central Asian Republics, and others such as the Ukraine, all targets of the Soros/NED network.

There is a place for hapless, banana-republic-in-the-making New Zealand in this world geopolitical scenario — and it is as a pawn for China.

China has been presented for several decades as being the panacea for New Zealand’s economic situation. This can ultimately be traced back to the scuttling of Empire after World War II, reiterated by Britain’s entry into the European Common Market in 1973, after which New Zealand was obliged to look for other export markets for its agricultural produce.

In the year 2000, New Zealand Governor General Michael Hardie Boys’ went to China to “set a seal on high-level contact” and reciprocate the visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin to New Zealand in September 1999. “He added that the visit will cement bilateral relations at the highest level between the two governments.”

New Zealand’s ambassador to China, Peter Adams, stated at the time:

The two countries have regular consultations on security, disarmament and trade and economy, and will extend a similar mechanism to the agricultural sector. The two countries have also increased cooperation in regional and global forums, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forums and the United Nations.

“New Zealand is a practitioner of the one-China policy, and it shares many common perspectives on regional security issues and on the need for economic integration through APEC and the World Trade Organization (WTO),” he said.

New Zealand was the first Western country to commence bilateral negotiations with China on China’s WTO entry, and also the first Western country to conclude such talks in 1997. Therefore, New Zealand is keen to see China join the WTO as soon as possible, he said.[12]

New Zealanders only really became aware of New Zealand’s rapidly developing relationship with China in the several years of negotiations preceding the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement of 2008. Yet official bilateral, high level contacts between the two, including military contact, has been what the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs describes as “frequent” since 1972. The Ministry lists these contacts up until 2003. [13]

In July 2008, New Zealand and Chinese army chiefs met in Beijing. China reported on this high level meeting, which doesn’t seem to have been mentioned by New Zealand media:

China and New Zealand vowed here on Friday to further army exchanges to push forward military relations between the two countries. “The Chinese armed forces advocate expanding contact and substantial cooperation with their New Zealand counterparts to upgrade military relations in the long run,” said Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.[14]

Few know of the extensive military and foreign policy contacts. Hence when Prof. David Shambaugh, of George Washington University, an authority on China and international security and politics of the Asia-Pacific region, visited New Zealand to address the annual Otago University Foreign Policy School in June, “he was astonished by New Zealand’s naiveté about its relationship with China.”[15] He commented that while academic interest in China is strong in New Zealand, “it has no real strategic direction.”

He believes certain strategic assets should be off-limits to foreign ownership. New Zealand ought to consider the possibility of China demanding access to extract minerals. New Zealand has not, he says, properly considered that China might ask to formally call on Kiwi ports with its naval ships.

However this already occurs. The destroyer Haerbin accompanied by its supply ship Hongzehu called at Wellington and other ports in October 2007, after been involved with exercises with Australian and New Zealand ships. At the same time the New Zealand frigate Te Kaha was berthed at the People’s Liberation Army Navy wharf in Shanghai. Te Kaha was to undertake an exercise with a similar sized Chinese ship. Te Kaha’s commander Andy Grant stated, “Such exercises were important to the military relationship.” He stated, “The level of engagement is quite high both ways.”[16] Commander Grant continued:

New Zealanders in general are not aware of what their military forces are doing. It’s not a big part of the New Zealand psyche.

We get a lot of delegations from the Chinese armed forces coming to New Zealand, but I don’t think that’s generally well known.[17]

New Zealand Maritime Component Commander, Commodore David Anson, stationed in Shanghai, stated: “There’s no doubt that New Zealand is wishing to grow its relationship with China – there’s no doubt in all facets. Military is just one of those building blocs.”[18]

Prof. Shambaugh’s visit prompted one of the few features on China in a major newspaper dealing with matters other than the strictly economic. Yet here too the focus was primarily on how inexorable our relationship is with China and any opposition is called, in Prime Minster John Key’s[19] words “xenophobia.” Hence, even here, the insights that Prof. Shambaugh might have been able to give received but scant notice.

What The Dominion Post article did provide however were four numbered points to summarize prime facets of the Sino-New Zealand relationship that the pleb readers might be able to quickly comprehend. Among the four were:

3. Diplomacy. New Zealand enjoys a strong relationship with the United States and China considers its relationship with the U.S. a high priority. China thinks that New Zealand can play a positive role in bridging its gap with the U.S..

4. Geopolitical. China wants to secure good relations with as many countries in the South Pacific as possible. It wants to secure Taiwan, and Taiwan enjoys good friendships with many of the small island countries. New Zealand has influence over those nations, so closer ties could improve China’s relations with them.[20]

Those couple of points are about a near to reality as New Zealanders are likely to read anywhere in the mainstream media. The USA decided decades ago to allow the Pacific region to become China’s spheres of influence. Since the geopolitical situation of the Cold War era has not fundamentally altered, there is no reason to believe that U.S. policy towards this region vis-à-vis China has changed, and it makes sense from a geopolitical perspective to have China continue expanding in the region to “contain Russia” as in the Soviet days of the Cold War.

New Zealand thereby serves as China’s proxy in the South Pacific, and would more likely be looked on as a big brother than a fire breathing, all-consuming dragon. The importance of this region has been indicated by a White Paper issued by China on October 17, 2000 that demarcates “first and second lines of island defence” in the Pacific. The first line of defence runs from Taiwan through the Spratly Islands to Singapore. The first island-chains describe the sphere of influence that China expects to achieve in the Pacific Ocean.

On October 19, 2002 NewsMax reported that according to the White Paper China plans to upgrade its navy to permit it to control “what its military calls ‘the first island-chain’ by 2010 and to the second island-chain’ by 2040.” “The first island-chain includes Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, the Philippines and Brunei. The second island-chain extends to Australia’s doorsteps.”

The NewsMax report cites Shen Dingli, an expert on the Chinese military at Fudan University, Shanghai, as stating: “Once the Taiwan front is closed, we may turn to the South China Sea,” [Beyond the South China Sea], “we have a third issue to resolve, namely to take the Diaoyutai Islands from Japan.”[21]

China is continually expanding its presence in the Pacific region by bribes of aid and trade with the small island nations to fulfil these plans. Chinese influence has been bought in Tonga, Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu in the Polynesian and Melanesian areas. In New Zealand, of particular note among the Chinese investments, Li Ka Shing’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure bought Vector, the Wellington power grid, in 2008. Vector was sold to Li Ka on the advice of Goldman Sachs, [22] which itself is one of those global movers-and-shakers who has had a relationship with China since the 1970s, and in 2004 became the first international bank to be permitted to arrange equity and bond deals in China. Goldman Sachs is also associated with Mr Li’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. The importance of Li is not that he is China’s richest businessman, but that he is an operative for the Chinese military, and specialises in buying up strategic assets throughout the world. Hutchison Whampoa Limited operationally controls the Panama Canal, and has built the largest container port in the world at Freeport, Bahamas. Li is a board member of the China International Trust and Investment Corporation, used as a front by China’s military to acquire technology for weapons development. When Li buys an asset he is therefore doing so with a lot more in mind than merely profit.

As I have related elsewhere, the entire Asia-Pacific region is fraught with potential crisis scenarios, especially involving climatic changes, drought, flooding, erosion, pollution, and the struggle for the control of water resources, with China having conflicting interests with India, Russia and virtually the whole of South East Asia.[23] If such tensions – to say the least – should arise, this pitiful country with its obsession with China’s export market stands to be in a precarious situation.

When the U.S. was still preoccupied with the USSR, New Zealand and Australia were explicitly warned that the ANZAC countries should not assume U.S. assistance in regional conflicts. This could only mean that the U.S. would not be drawn into assisting against any threats from China. During the period of the Cold War when the USSR became the “evil empire”, Dr Desmond Ball of Australian National University, warned New Zealand that military assistance from the U.S. “would depend on the specific identity of the ‘national adversary and the relationship of the U.S. to the aggressor.”[24] The same year no less than Paul Wolfowitz, then U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs stated that China’s increasing presence in the region was a welcome and stabilizing development.[25]

Have geopolitical issues fundamentally changed in relation to China, Russia and the U.S., since the Cold War or are they the same but in different guises? From the New Zealand position, as a powerless state that tries to posture on the world stage through the rhetoric of moral righteousness and on the coat tails of the U.N., should the process of trade relations, upon which New Zealand bases its foreign policy,[26] become unstuck through a number of crisis scenarios, New Zealand’s position as a lick-spittle whore for China’s interests in the South Pacific will see the country well out of its depth.


[1] “China and New Zealand, I. Bilateral Political Relationship and major exchange of visits, A. Chinese Visits to New Zealand,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, <>

[2] K R Bolton, “Russia and China: an Approaching Conflict?, Sino-US confrontation Unlikely,” Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2, Summer 2009, pp. 181-187.

[3] Ibid., p. 184. Bolton, “Sino-Soviet-US Relations and the 1969 Nuclear Threat, Pro-China Bias of US Establishment,” Foreign Policy Journal, May 17, 2010.

[4] Graeme Hunt, Spies and Revolutionaries, a history of New Zealand subversion (Auckland: Reed Publishing, 2007), pp. 252-254.

[5] Evening Post, May 1, 1976.

[6] K R Bolton, 2009, op.cit., p. 168.

[7] Ibid., pp. 156- 158.

[8] Ibid., pp. 162-164.

[9] K R Bolton, “Origins of the Cold War, Post Cold War,” Foreign Policy Journal, May 31, 2010.

[10] Daniel Tencer, “Soros: ‘China should lead New World Order’,” October 28, 2009,

[11] National Endowment for Democracy, the world revolutionary apparatus of the US Establishment.

[12] “New Zealand Pursue Cooperation with China,” The Evening Post, Wellington, ca. October 2000.

[13] “China and New Zealand,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, August 26, 2003, (accessed on July 4, 2010).

[14] “China, New Zealand pledge to further army exchanges,”, 4 July 2008.

[15] John Hartevelt, “Eyes wide shut on our Asian integration,” The Dominion Post, Wellington, July 3, 2010, p. A9.

[16] “Flying the flag in China,” The Dominion Post, Wellington, October 15, 2007, p. 1.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] John Key seemed to emerge from nowhere to become Prime Minister. He worked for Merrill Lynch in Singapore, London and Sydney. In 1999 he was “invited to join the Foreign Exchange Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY and on two occasions undertook management studies at Harvard University in Boston.”  He became a National Party MP in 2002. Key’s Parliamentary profile at: (accessed on July 5, 2010).

[20] John Hartevel, op.cit.

[21] Phil Brennan, “China Rebuilds its Military Muscle,” NewsMax, October 19, 2002. (accessed on July 5, 2010).

[22] The Dominion Post, Wellington, April 29, 2008, p. C1.

[23] K R Bolton, “Water Wars: Rivalry over water resources – a potential cause of regional conflict in Asia and the geopolitical implications”, World Affairs, Vol. 14, No. 1, Spring 2010, pp. 52-83.

[24] The Evening Post, May 3, 1983. Currently Dr Ball is Professor, Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, School of International, Political & Strategic Studies, ANU.

[25] The Evening Post, May 3, 1983.

[26] Foreign affairs and trade are under the responsibility of the same Ministry.