The Pacific Conflict

(I’m only shouting that because many other people are, which is annoying, as people tend to switch off the rhetoric.)

The reality has existed that there would always be a Pacific conflict between China and the US – That has been on the cards since the communist takeover of China – Old China and the US were no longer allies as they had been in World War 11 against the Japanese occupation of mainland China.

This century, China has risen to what some commentators say is, “Arguably the greatest global superpower ever.”

China has relied on two mainstays:
First, is the slow but relentless passage of socialism to the eventual goal of Communism. That’s as old as the Fabian Society and its publicly stated aims.

Second, that China would win the financial war and that had to happen before there would ever be a military conflict between the superpowers.

That financial war is at its height while the military and technology race continues.

There was a recent global tussle in the last year that saw the US and the UK join forces with combat wings flying off the new British aircraft carrier QE11 which confrontated China in its home seas, and there was a brief hiatus in the brewing storm.

Not all is well in China though, with its unstable economy, unrealistic covid policies and political upheaval with Xi seeking an unprecedented third term.

But regardless, they’ve reignited a push into the Pacific, with new security agreements with the Solomons and Samoa Island groups on the regional table – and many will be saying as a consequence of Mahuta controlling Foreign Affairs decisions.

We’re not an insignificant and out of the way place in these circumstances and when NZ withdrew from ANZUS, in military eyes we ceased to be a sovereign ally and became a “strategic military asset” – quote: US military.

Some commentators will argue merit in our neutral position while others decry our withdrawal from supporting Western allies.

But here’s the catch. There’s plenty of people in NZ who would prefer to be allied to an Eastern World led by China rather than a Western World led by the US.

The worst possible outcome for Kiwis is,  that situation drives us to a civil war which has been a simmering but growing possibility through the past two decades.

Once again this is not helped with the presence of Mahuta and her family interests in local government.

If you’re following the Chinese passage into the Solomons you might argue that our current foreign policy and regional positioning has been a tacit government approval of the Chinese advance.

As Foreign Minister, Mahuta has a lot more questions to answer than just conflict of interest corruption allegations through jobs for the whanau at local body level.


What about China?

We have just had our Budget and our ‘economy is bubbling’ or so we are told, and we have labour shortages … but along with that, high inflation and ongoing supply chain issues. Our bogged-down global supply chain is suffering from container shortages, with delays in shipping and hold ups in supply. If you’re in an industry that can survive off airfreight you may not be so affected and our PM has flown to the US to ‘promote our interests’ there.

Is our economy genuinely bubbling or has it gone from government life support to fuel on the fire pretending to be fiscal stimulus?

That, has me a little worried, especially when I look at our biggest trading partner, China. While trade with the US is good, or any new markets for that matter what might we be about to lose from Chinese trade relationship?

China has isolated itself into an unsustainable and damaging position.
The country’s current COVID-19 strategy revolves around a zero-covid outcome.

We are more than 2 years on from seeing China’s initial response to the covid outbreak with its first lockdown in Wuhan, the central Chinese city from which we saw those dramatic scenes of pandemic panic and control.

The Chinese Government publically remains determined and committed to the enforcement of its zero-covid strategy, raising questions about what the end result might be for China.

An outbreak in March of this year, in Shanghai which is China’s biggest city, is its worst outbreak to date with case numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
The strict sequence of lockdowns in the city since has caused disruptions beyond anything we experienced in NZ.

The CCP claims to be “Defeating the virus.” with its zero-covid strategy with President Xi Jinping repeatedly saying that “people’s lives are of the utmost importance”, to justify border closures and strict domestic control policies.

It remains unclear though how many deaths might be attributed to covid across the Chinese mainland so far.

A similar situation to that which occurred in New Zealand now faces China, where questions arise as to whether the adverse effects of the lockdown which are growing more visible are more detrimental than COVID-19 itself.

I doubt we would want to see Auckland in the same mess as Shanghai is in now and there are signals of desperate concern sneaking out of the country. (Not that I like what I’m seeing in Auckland, with all the gang violence.)

Information is becoming hard to source although well informed officials will speak to well-known and reliable media on conditions of guaranteed anonymity. 

Reliable sources have indicated that there is a lack of focus on other diseases and undercounting of those case numbers to justify the attention on covid.

As in NZ and France, COVID-19 has become a highly politicised disease in China, and voices advocating for any deviation from the zero-covid path can expect to be punished.

There is a growing discontent between the political world and rational opinions with many saying, in all honestly that the situation is now simply humiliating.

This is the same policy path NZ was headed down where damage outweighed the benefits and reliable observers say the lack of cost-effective reality is becoming very visible in China – perhaps we were lucky we had a protest.

Then you ask, is China still to face the economic reality we are in now. I don’t know enough about China’s economic response to suggest any answers to that question, though.

In the world outside of China where market forces are more prevalent we see Moderna dumping 30 million doses of vaccine – demand is ruling the market.

And tied to China’s implementation of non-pharmaceutical options to manage their  COVID-19 situation it has its own vaccination campaign.

China has stepped up its vaccine rollout with its own domestically manufactured vaccines, most notably those by Sinopharm and Sinovac, but it’s vaccination programme to date appears to lack any strategy or merit when there is no focus on vulnerable groups.

This lack of protection of the groups most susceptible to severe disease makes it difficult for China to look at exit strategies if it’s relying on a pharmaceutical victory.

Why wouldn’t you expect vaccine hesitancy and misinformation when the Government in Beijing remains committed to the zero-COVID strategy, alongside this ambiguous and confused medical situation.

Has China watched New Zealand and tried to take a slightly different path to the propaganda control we saw coming from Ardern?

“It’s imperative that we keep a clear head and unswervingly adhere to the general policy of dynamic zero COVID, and resolutely fight against all words and deeds that distort, doubt, and deny our country’s anti-epidemic policies”, President Xi said during a recent meeting on May 5, while lockdown continues in Shanghai and case numbers are increasing in Beijing.

If China will not consider any change in policy, and not accept a similar tolerance to the virus as we have in NZ the possibility of China losing authority over its population becomes quite real.

Looking at China’s political landscape, though where President Xi is poised to secure the unprecedented third term of his presidency, their Government will want an image of stability, especially with covid to compliment, Xi’s political ambitions.

The timeline for China’s reopening might be described as a distant horizon at best, with the earliest possible time for China to drop its current measures, suggested to be some time in early 2023.

A lot could change before then both in China and NZ.

FENZ Mandates

Government mandates stemming from the Covid Health Order continue to cause aggrevation across a number of the country’s industry sectors.

Social Credit leader, Chris Leitch has raised concerns about mandates affecting Fire Rescue (FENZ) saying “Fire service commanders should immediately scrap the mandates for fire service personnel, before more are sent off the job.”

A spokesman for FENZ has responsed by saying, “The Government is currently considering refining the definitions in the Health Order, with the intention of narrowing the role coverage. This may change how the Health Order impacts some operational Fire and Emergency personnel.

However Mr Leitch says his party is of the view that keeping those mandates in place poses more risk to the public from having insufficient resources to attend fires and motor vehicle crashes than any risk of catching or passing on Covid-19.

Those mandates also pose a risk to fire service staff with insufficient backup and overwork, stress, and mental health issues.

Police are no longer working under mandates and it is ridiculous to suggest that fire service personnel coming into contact with the public pose more risk than police coming into contact with the public.

FENZ states “As an emergency response organisation Fire and Emergency always has contingency plans in place so we can respond to events as they arise. We have appropriate contingency plans in place across New Zealand, as we have had throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Examples of contingency plans include support from neighbouring brigades, relocation of resources and a range of other tools. We will continue to adapt these plans as needed.”

Mr Leitch however disputes the effectiveness of these contingencies:

“Fire service bosses say they have ‘surge strategy’ plans in place, but those are next to useless in rural areas.”

Leitch has specific concerns about rural areas like his home province of Northland.

“If an incident in Okaihau requires the Kerikeri brigade to attend and another incident happens in Kerikeri, sending a crew from Whangarei will be a complete waste of time.
By the time they got to Kawakawa, just over half way to Kerikeri, the building would have burnt down and any victims in it or at a road crash would have long since passed away.”

Leitch says, “Fire bosses need to grow a backbone, stop being obedient servants of the government, and do what’s right for their staff and the public – call an end to the mandates now.

If that raises the ire of the government so be it.”

However FENZ says, “Fire and Emergency is receiving regular updates from the Ministry of Health so that it is as prepared as it can be for any changes. In the meantime, Fire and Emergency must continue to comply with the current Health Order.”

Leitch is adamant however that, “Mandates don’t work, they’re unnecessary, an assault on human rights that is out of all proportion to the risk, and cannot be justified.
It’s time they were scrapped and fire service bosses should do so, regardless of the health order in place.”
Clarifying speculation about the number of firefighters affected since the inception of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021, FENZ reports that 91 of Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s (10,211 volunteers) have informed their Chief Fire Officer that they have resigned from their brigades. adding that, “volunteers do not always relay their reasons for leaving the organisation.”

Marsden Point Update

The Marsden Point refinery issue has regained a minimum amount of attention in the last few days with concerns over rapidly rising diesel prices.

One of the few vocal critics of the refinery closure, Social Credit leader, Chris Leitch pointed out in September last year, that Marsden Point’s refinery website had this to say;

“We are a critical link in New Zealand’s energy infrastructure and a major economic and social contributor to Northland. Refining NZ has a reputation as one of Asia-Pacific’s safest and most reliable refineries.”

When approached for comment today Leitch said, “As you can appreciate we have done an enormous amount of work on the refinery issue and have managed to get some (but limited) coverage.”

There was more bad news today with record petrol prices and no immediate relief for consumers on the horizon.

Work on dismantling the refinery began this week with equipment being shipped off site by the container load.

Leitch added that they were running to keep up with the current developments but intended to have an updated position available over the weekend.

The Marsden Point Dig In led by activist Brad Flutey consolidated its position overnight by closing its base camp and amalgamating its resources at Camp Spearhead, vowing to continue the protest until New Zealand was better informed about fuel security and issues around the refinery closure at Marsden Point Refinery.