Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Testing The Anglo-Saxons

Know Thy Enemies: China's Nineteenth Century history recommends a thorough process of getting to know exactly who and what you're dealing with. The Celestial Kingdom's disdain for "Foreign Barbarians" did not work out so well. New Zealand offers the Chinese Government a risk-free environment in which to master the idiosyncrasies of the Anglo-Saxon cultures challenged by its rising economic power.
 
THE PRIME MINISTER has given his recent trip to China a perfect score.
 
“They have really given us great access, they are totally committed to moving the relationship on, there has been a real opportunity to renew friendships and understandings with the new leadership team and we’ve announced things that will make a difference here.
 
“I think it’s a 10 out of 10.”
 
There can be no disputing the value which the People’s Republic places upon its relationship with New Zealand. What we offer our now pivotal trading partner is access to a fully developed, English-speaking, democratic, capitalist society. With our tiny population and strategic irrelevance, China can test and refine here the techniques it must perfect if its increasingly up-close-and-personal interactions with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia are to bear diplomatic and commercial fruit.
 
More bluntly, China has chosen New Zealand as its testing-ground. Mistakes made here can simply be written-off to experience. New Zealand is too small (and too dependent on the Chinese demand for its dairy products) to impose any kind of effective sanctions on the Chinese state.
 
What we do have, however, is the ability to reveal the pitfalls awaiting China in jurisdictions large enough to inflict serious damage on both its government and economy. Though we may only be its smallest digit, New Zealand remains one of the five fingers of the Anglo-Saxon fist. And if the exponential growth of China’s productive capacity has reduced its economic power, the Anglo-Saxon Fist still packs an unanswerable military punch.
 
As a policy, pissing-off the Anglo-Saxon’s has not served the Chinese state well in the past, and is most unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future.
 
And that’s where we come in.
 
How will the citizens of the Anglo-Saxon states respond to large-scale land purchases by state-owned, or capitalised, Chinese corporations? That is something the big-wigs in Beijing should probably know before allowing their surrogates to buy up half of Herefordshire or Ohio.
 
And, thanks to New Zealand, they have been given a pretty good idea. Though far greater chunks of the New Zealand landscape had been hocked-off to Americans, Canadians, Indonesians and Israelis, the very idea that even a tiny amount of New Zealand farmland might end up in Chinese hands was enough to bring Kiwis out in a rash.
 
New Zealand’s bi-partisan commitment to keeping Sino-New Zealand relations harmonious was sufficient to prevent any large-scale political exploitation of that popular antagonism. Even so, China’s rulers had been given a taste of the sort of reaction likely to greet large-scale Chinese land purchases in English-speaking countries containing political classes less constrained by considerations of size and economic dependence. The far-right of the US Republican Party, for example. Or, the frankly xenophobic “backwoodsmen” of the British Conservative Party.
 
A recent news-story (published in The Sunday Star-Times of 14 April 2013) offers the Beijing authorities another opportunity to test the political and social reactions of Anglo-Saxons to Chinese ideas and aspirations.
 
Mr Easter Wu, a prominent figure in the New Zealand Chinese business community, has apparently been campaigning for the right to pay immigrant workers less than the statutory minimum wage. In advocating that his compatriots engage in what is a clear breach of New Zealand employment law, Mr Wu confined himself to Chinese-language media outlets.
 
Now that his comments: “How much you are worth is how much you get. You got an $8 skill, I pay you $8.”, have been translated into English, the response of ordinary New Zealanders is likely to be extremely hostile.
 
Not only has Mr Wu been using his high media profile in the expatriate Chinese community to suggest that Chinese employers should ignore the laws of the country in which they have been permitted to operate, but he has also, wittingly or unwittingly, raised up the spectre, in the minds of native-born New Zealanders, that Chinese business leaders are conspiring to undermine their wages and conditions. With New Zealand currently experiencing high levels of unemployment, such behaviour has the potential to produce an ugly and diplomatically unhelpful anti-Chinese backlash.
 
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Mr Wu’s campaigning is that China’s diplomatic representatives in New Zealand appear to have made no attempt to rein-in their wayward compatriot. Within the Chinese Embassy there will certainly be officers tasked with the close monitoring of the local Chinese-language news media. It is very puzzling (to say the least) that the Embassy does not appear to have taken Mr Wu aside and warned him about the very serious consequences his campaigning risked unleashing.
 
Then again, it’s possible this unwillingness to intervene reflects the Chinese Government’s interest in discovering how Anglo-Saxons react to the idea that Chinese employers should be allowed to operate outside the law.
 
If so, we should let them know.
 
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 16 April 2013.

27 comments:

David said...

Great piece.

There's also the historical connection in Rewi Alley and New Zealand recognising Communist China early on (early 1970s?) compared to other western countries

Anonymous said...

I think that most of us who are against land sales, are against land sales to anybody foreign. This certainly has been a fuss about individual Americans buying land and doing stuff that we don't like with it. But we don't get a great deal of information about exactly who is buying land. So when the papers make a fuss about Chinese, that's who we get annoyed about. They're hardly likely to make too much of a fuss about Europeans or Americans because that's who owns them.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you spotted and are taking up the issues of Mr Easter Wu's employment law beliefs Chris.

Of course, the cultural clash that arises over issues like Mr Wu's beliefs are an inevitable consequence of the liberal immigration policies NZ has had since Dick Prebble changed from 'culturally homogenous migration' to the current points based 'heterogenous open migration' model.

With over 7 billion people in the world, most of whom would love a chance to live in a first world nation like NZ, the liberal 'open immigration' model we adopted in 1987 has given us one of the highest immigration rates in the world (50% rise in population in under 30 years, from 3m to 4.5m).

What few liberals (left or right wing) want to discuss is the fact that liberal immigration is a vital foundation stone of their disastrous economic programme. NZ is still engaged in what is just a pyramid scheme/scam; we import huge numbers of people to increase consumption of goods/housing, which creates economic growth (Helen Clark admitted this when PM).

Problem is twofold - economically, we are hitting the point of collapse of this pyramid scam, when there are insufficient Kiwis who can afford to keep buying inflated value housing and consumer goods.

Second, the different cultural values of the now large migrant groups (Chinese, Indian, British, etc) are resulting in an increasingly fragmented society. These mass migrant blocs are simply not integrating, but are using ethnic/cultural group links to create ethnic businesses, separate cultural and sporting groups, and separate media. (Please note integration is NOT assimilation).

At what point do liberals admit their experiment has failed? That NZ is rushing towards the kind of multi-culturalism that simmers for centuries, then explodes into violence in Yugoslavia, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, etc? The trigger will be a combination of economic factors such as you posit Chris (below minimum wages, land sales), and cultural factors (racially biased hiring, public displays of cultural success when other cultural groups are struggling).

An enormous topic to tackle, but one that must be addressed for a healthy NZ future for all cultural groups in NZ.

A first step would be to cut immigration to a level that maintains a static NZ population (ie cap immigration at average emmigration for last 3 years, say). Give space for the conversation to begin.

Mad Marxist.

andrewmahon1234 said...

I actually agree with you, Mad. This is one of the best summaries I've heard on the issue. It's total taboo on the left to bring up stuff like that. We don't want the kind of 'tribalism' that Syria has. Perhaps we should restrict our immigration to refugees. As ironic as that sounds ironic having just mentioned Syria. I think China would understand if we restricted immigration in this way. China will still gain massively from the FTA. And rightly so.

andrewmahon1234 said...

We also have to allow the Maori population greater time to recover and in doing so assert themselves economically and culturally.

A (more) successful indigenous population would make my heart stir with pride.

When we can once and for all forget about this Maori/Pakeha inequality and work as partners in the spirit of the Treaty.

Victor said...

Mad Marxist

I agree with you that this is a vast and important topic. I also agree that immigration has been allowed to grow considerably faster than might have been wise.

And, yes, there is something of a Ponzi scheme about the way immigration is expected to stimulate growth and thus provide an economic climate capable of absorbing further immigrants.

But I also think that, without reasonably high levels of immigration, New Zealand’s population might well have declined substantially rather than staying stable. I’m sure I don’t need to regurgitate all the factors that take young Kiwis overseas and, very often, keep them there. Perhaps we would be better off with a considerably smaller population. But, personally, I doubt it.

And I think you’re making a category error by comparing New Zealand to time-encrusted, ethnic patchworks such as Nigeria, Syria or the former Yugoslavia. Our Maori heritage notwithstanding, we’re essentially a young “settler country” like the Australia, Canada or Argentina. Like them, we have our faults but inter-communal vendettas that cost the lives of many thousands tend not to be amongst them.

May I add that, as an immigrant myself and as someone who's lived in a number of countries with high immigration levels, I’m constantly impressed at the job my adopted homeland is making of integrating new arrivals. Certainly, there are plenty of places doing a lot worse. And I’m also impressed by the willingness of so many new arrivals to become part of their new environment.

More importantly, I think that you and other posters are missing a crucial point about Mr Wu’s comments. The huge issue they point to is not, to my mind, what we should do about immigration. It’s about how we should seek to cope with China.

We now live in the shadow of a vast, powerful and increasingly wealthy nation that might well be on the path to regional and perhaps global hegemony. It’s a nation with a very different culture, history and political system to our own.

It’s also an ancient nation, newly emerged from a century and a half of galling powerlessness and of rapacious exploitation by people who looked and sounded not unlike most of us. And , prior to that, its relationships with other countries involved treating them as tributaries rather than as sovereign equals.

Moreover, China’s soared ahead in recent decades on the basis of all the virtues we seem to have lost; hard work, family loyalty, self-discipline and an ability to defer satisfaction and plan for the long term.

....more to come

Victor said...

....continuing previous post:

If I were Chinese, I‘d be hugely (and justly) proud of my motherland’s accomplishments, perhaps quietly scornful of westerners (particularly laid-back Australasian westerners) and, in my darker moments, possibly prone to wondering if it might not be “pay back time”.

If I was settled in a small and not particularly economically successful western country, there’s a chance that, from time to time, my mask of politeness might slip. Alternatively, if I was still living in the motherland, I might well feel buoyed up by the prevalent mood of racially-charged nationalism.

All of these factors are going to influence how China deals with the tiny western minnow that’s now, more or less, within its sphere of influence. They will impact on New Zealand’s relationship with other countries, on how we manage our economy and environmental concerns and on how we’re expected to behave when the interests of China and Chinese citizens are involved.

So how should we comport ourselves vis a vis this vastly different country, which has no reason to love us and is now the predominant power in every sphere other than (as yet) military hardware. Of course, we’ve dealt with hegemons before. But, like us, they’ve been part of what Chris calls the Anglo-Saxon fist. It’s an experience that fails to provide us with a template for the situation we’re now in.

Do we rush to embrace Chinese values? Would we be capable of doing so, even if we wanted to? Would the Chinese be any more impressed by us if we succeeded? I suspect the answers are NO, NO and NO!

But here’s a few more questions:

Should we ring-fence parts of our economy? If so, which parts and how? And what would be the consequences of failing to ring- fence?

Should we follow Australia’s example and seek to balance our economic dependence on the Chinese market with an ever deeper defence relationship with the United States? And, if we don’t follow Australia’s example, might we end up on the other side of a new Cold War divide to our trans-Tasman 'cousins'? Would it matter if we did?

Is our much-prized and long-pursued independent foreign policy now a wasted asset? Alternatively, was it always a chimera in a word of inevitable great power rivalries and the rise and fall of empires? As things stand, might we not be everybody’s whore, bending over backwards to please both Beijing and Washington?

And, despite all the above, might there nevertheless be sufficient substance to our common humanity for ourselves and the Chinese to manage our vastly unequal relationship to the satisfaction of both parties? I certainly hope so.

I don’t claim to have answers to these questions. But I do know they need debating with some urgency. And I also know that it’s not all about economics.

Chris Trotter said...

Thankyou, Victor, for one of the most thoughful contributions, ever, to Bowalley Road.

jh said...

Victor Says:
But I also think that, without reasonably high levels of immigration, New Zealand’s population might well have declined substantially rather than staying stable. I’m sure I don’t need to regurgitate all the factors that take young Kiwis overseas and, very often, keep them there. Perhaps we would be better off with a considerably smaller population. But, personally, I doubt it. 
…..........................................
We can't have our multicultural experiment without population growth can we Victor?
Read this:
http://www.treasury.govt.nz/downloads/pdfs/mi-jarrett-comm.pdf

and this:

The downside of diversity
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/world/americas/05iht-diversity.1.6986248.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

.......................................................

“More importantly, I think that you and other posters are missing a crucial point about Mr Wu’s comments. The huge issue they point to is not, to my mind, what we should do about immigration. It’s about how we should seek to cope with China.”
…...................................................
You're saying we need to learn to cope with China rather than it's immigrants even if the problem comes with the business culture of some of those immigrants?

Victor Says:
“Moreover, China’s soared ahead in recent decades on the basis of all the virtues we seem to have lost; hard work, family loyalty, self-discipline and an ability to defer satisfaction and plan for the long term.”
….....
You forget a reciprical family and clan based social welfare system.

“If I were Chinese, I‘d be hugely (and justly) proud of my motherland’s accomplishments, perhaps quietly scornful of westerners (particularly laid-back Australasian westerners) and, in my darker moments, possibly prone to wondering if it might not be “pay back time”. “
…............
and thanks to a dirt poor starving population (cheap labour).
And perhaps Victor is quietly scornful of “laid-back Australasian westerners”?...... but one woders why?

jh said...

"Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Mr Wu’s campaigning is that China’s diplomatic representatives in New Zealand appear to have made no attempt to rein-in their wayward compatriot. Within the Chinese Embassy there will certainly be officers tasked with the close monitoring of the local Chinese-language news media. It is very puzzling (to say the least) that the Embassy does not appear to have taken Mr Wu aside and warned him about the very serious consequences his campaigning risked unleashing."
.....
Ocam's razor? Perhaps the Chinese expect silly NZ to deal with these people.... aren't they re-branded when they get here?

jh said...

Mr Wu seems to represent cognitive dissonance to Chris (and Victor): hence the long-winded explanation involving NZ being part of China's test case.

Victor said...

JH

I wondered how long it would be before you appeared.

"You're saying we need to learn to cope with China rather than it's immigrants even if the problem comes with the business culture of some of those immigrants?"

Obviously, the latter is part of the former. But I think we delude ourselves if we think that's the alpha and omega of this issue.

"And perhaps Victor is quietly scornful of “laid-back Australasian westerners”?...... but one woders why?"

I'm just trying to look at things from someone else's point of view.

Moreover, my scorn is rarely quiet.

jh said...

Whether or not you agree with it this states the case fairly well:

SATURDAY ESSAY: Why we on the Left made an epic mistake on immigration
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2297776/SATURDAY-ESSAY-Why-Left-epic-mistake-immigration.html#ixzz2QwgfnI5y

and this:
Peter Hitchens, Christopher’s smarter brother, wrote a devastating piece recently on the reason for the Left’s promotion of immigration:

“When I was a Revolutionary Marxist, we were all in favour of as much immigration as possible.

It wasn’t because we liked immigrants, but because we didn’t like Britain. We saw immigrants — from anywhere — as allies against the staid, settled, conservative society that our country still was at the end of the Sixties.

Also, we liked to feel oh, so superior to the bewildered people – usually in the poorest parts of Britain – who found their neighbourhoods suddenly transformed into supposedly ‘vibrant communities’.

If they dared to express the mildest objections, we called them bigots.”

None of this is unique to the U.K. Throughout the developed world, the Left uses mass immigration and lies about racism to bend the sovereign, patriotic nation-state to its will. And it does so with plenty of help from its accomplices on the corporate and libertarian right.

Let’s not let them do it here.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/344939/mass-immigration-was-lefts-revenge-thatcher-mark-krikorian

Anonymous said...

On the contrary JH, the right users immigration by suggesting that prosperity depends on population growth.

Anonymous said...

@ jh - Thanks for the David Goodhart article - superb, compassionate summary of British experience with liberal immigration.

@ Anon 10:57am - please re-read my comments above; liberal left PM Helen Clark admitted using immigration to trigger economic growth, and she is 'left-wing'. Both right- and left-wing liberals use immigration for this, and Chris' article addresses some of the consequences, vis - Easter Wu's advocacy of below minimum wages, etc.

@ Victor - I think we mostly agree.
"But I also think that, without reasonably high levels of immigration, New Zealand’s population might well have declined substantially rather than staying stable."
True - NZ has 2.1 live births per woman of reproductive age, which is exactly replacement level, and that includes births to recent migrants, so it *appears* NZ would have declining population without migrants.

However, that ignores the induction effect - mass migrants place such pressure on existing young adults, that many defer having children until they can afford to do so, which (partially) explains the trend to higher average age women have their first child. That is also why many Gen X and younger folk have left NZ and not returned; most of my gen X and gen Y mates want to return, but can't get jobs in NZ or can't afford to return (NZ jobs don't pay enough to live on in Akld). And they only have kids in their late 30s when they can afford them and are scared they're almost out of reproductive time.

Anonymous said...

CONTINUED...

Which raises the welfare issue which David Goodhart's Daily Mail article above failed to really tackle. We need lifetime (ie 80-100yr) demographic planning from govt and councils to properly budget for welfare costs. We can't budget for most economic factors on that timescale, but we can keep tabs on welfare costs, which are being radically shifted by liberal immigration.

My grandfather once told me how intrinsically selfish migration is - they left behind their parents and most of their siblings, and their parents died with their migrant children on the far side of the world. By contrast, family reunification is now 1/3 of all immigration, and that sounds lovely, but carries colossal welfare costs as NZ taxpayers are expected to pay for (mostly) Asian parents to come here and retire on pensions with big hospital bills to come (not so Brit migrants so much, as we have reciprocal pension deals).

Oh, and in all this Victor, I haven't "missed the crucial point ... about how we should seek to cope with China". I am saying we will soon have no ability to 'cope with China', or India, if we have such a large - and hence politically powerful - migrant community from these nations. I have taught many Chinese students, and the rampant nationalism imbued in them by their capitalist-communist leaders is both startling and worrying. Locking up Chinese migrant citizens of NZ on Soames Island will not be *physically* possible (and is not desirable of course) in the event of a dispute between NZ and China.

And liberal immigration has accelerated exponentially these problems; we will not have centuries for "time-encrusted, ethnic patchworks " to develop. Look at the Pacific nations; Chinese business success and migration has already caused violence in the Solomons and Fiji and the Mariana Islands.

How to cope? Slash immigration to needed occupations *who get and retain work in that field* to get a balanced population. More checks for immigration fraud - it is rampant! Shift our welfare system from providing perverse incentives for the impecunious and/or 'needy' third world migrants to support local Kiwis as well. Because 3rd world migrants always look 'needier' than local first world residents, they tend to go to the top of the list, while locals get bounced off housing lists, etc, which breeds resentment.

...

Anonymous said...

CONTINUED...

And as jh says, China has not "soared ahead in recent decades on the basis of all the virtues we seem to have lost" such as hard work; that is to make the same error of blaming the Greeks for their woes that the EU made. Kiwis, like Greeks, work long hours for low pay, but the Chinese work longer hours for far less pay. Address that free market capitalism, and Mr Wu will find no-one will work for him for $8 an hour.

Finally, yes, I believe our common humanity allows us to live with big nations like China and India, and the US. But we must be aware of the impacts our liberal policies have and change them if they are bad. Liberal immigration is destroying NZ rapidly - we either change it, or in a few more years we won't be able to. Do nothing, and there are only 2 outcomes:
- one migrant group dominates and we become effectively a colony of the home nation of those migrants, much as NZ changed from a Maori nation to a British one when Brit migrants outnumbered Maori.
OR
- we have many large migrant groups, non dominating, and we get a Mid-East or West-African style perpetual tension between cultural minorities struggling for dominance. This usually ends in tragic violence, as in Syria or Nigeria.

Let's not put our heads in the sand, as far too many liberal lefties have so far. Let's build a NZ where Kiwis don't have to leave, to live.

Mad Marxist.
Whew! Sorry 'bout length - wanted to address people's interesting points ;)

Victor said...

I can only repeat that I don’t think the key issue here is immigration levels.

The simple, overwhelming fact is that the global balance of wealth and power has changed. As a result, China’s norms and expectations will increasingly become the default standard for states in its sphere of influence.

We need to be aware of this change and work out how to respond to it.

This would be so whether or not we had a large ethnic Chinese (or any other) component in our population.

Victor said...

Mad Marxist

A few thoughts ……..

Having children later is a global trend. True, mass migration is also a global trend. But I doubt that this is the only cause of later pregnancies.

“ family reunification is now 1/3 of all immigration, and that sounds lovely, but carries colossal welfare costs as NZ taxpayers are expected to pay for (mostly) Asian parents to come here and retire on pensions with big hospital bills to come (not so Brit migrants so much, as we have reciprocal pension deals).”

I don’t disagree.

“I am saying we will soon have no ability to 'cope with China', or India, if we have such a large - and hence politically powerful - migrant community from these nations.”

I agree it’s a significant factor where you already have a powerful country potentially throwing its weight around in the direction of a less powerful one. The important factor, though, is the imbalance of power.

“we will not have centuries for "time-encrusted, ethnic patchworks " to develop. Look at the Pacific nations; Chinese business success and migration has already caused violence in the Solomons and Fiji and the Mariana Islands.”

Yes, you’re right. Chinese business ownership and settlement has provoked a violent response in a number of places in the Pacific and also in Africa.

But, again, these are different sorts of societies to ours.

Currently, former white settler countries such as NZ, Oz or Canada tend to have both the largest percentages of their populations born overseas and the best records of integration. They’re in a different category to both poor, developing countries and to older and more crowded places in Europe.

“Because 3rd world migrants always look 'needier' than local first world residents, they tend to go to the top of the list, while locals get bounced off housing lists, etc, which breeds resentment.”

An interesting point.

“China has not "soared ahead in recent decades on the basis of all the virtues we seem to have lost" such as hard work;”

Well, of course it’s not the only reason it’s soared ahead. But it’s part of the mix and, more to the point, the part of the mix that the Chinese are understandably most conscious of when they look at the West. It is therefore material to the argument.

“ Do nothing, and there are only 2 outcomes:

“- one migrant group dominates and we become effectively a colony of the home nation of those migrants, much as NZ changed from a Maori nation to a British one when Brit migrants outnumbered Maori.
OR

“- we have many large migrant groups, non dominating, and we get a Mid-East or West-African style perpetual tension between cultural minorities struggling for dominance. This usually ends in tragic violence, as in Syria or Nigeria.”

I believe the first of these options doesn't depend wholly on immigration but is the likely consequence of Chinese economic predominance in our region and beyond. That doesn't mean we just have to accept it.

Your comparison with the Brits in NZ is interesting. They settled here but they didn't, on the whole, settle in Ghana. But both were part of the Empire.

And I think your second option is unduly alarmist and ignores our social capital as a relatively long-established, constitutional democracy.

True, it won't protect us from everything fate throws at us. But it does put us in a different league to Syria.

But, I agree, we've got to stop behaving like ostriches.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, but Victor, you don't address any of the obvious signs of a NZ population under stress from massive liberal immigration over the last 25 years. Signs like:

- static birth rate (2.1 live births) but growing population, so clearly attributable to immigration.

- young Kiwis leaving and not returning (despite often saying they want to return after a few years or when they have kids).

- big rise in 'family reunification' migrant numbers, mostly elderly (and hence costly); see Immigration Dept reports.

- higher living costs due to population growth (which as above is due to immigration), forcing govt and councils to subsidise living costs of workers (eg low income rates subsidy, Working For Families, income related rents, 20hrs free ECE, etc).

I could go on, but hopefully you can see the stress that these issues are putting on young people and young families. My cousin has twins that they won't be able to pay for swim lessons for like their older sister is currently getting - just can't afford 2 kids at once. Signs of stress like that.

You are correct that China is the globally dominant economic power now - the US is still as large an economic market and a military power, but US debt levels have undermined their clout.

Our biggest challenge will be defending NZ from economic or military takeover when global fisheries and fertile agricultural land become so scarce that China, India, US, etc start taking instead of just buying. A bigger population won't help us against that unless we have 100 million plus.

But no matter what our population, how will we resist economic or political or military colonisation if we have a large ethnic Chinese/Indian/etc minority group (say 1/3 of population) who are sympathetic to their home nation's desires for a slice of Kiwi pie? We have already had putative efforts at ethnic political parties (New Citizens Party).

That is one reason mass liberal immigration is stupid. Small scale over generations is readily absorbed - ethnic minority folk tend to think of themselves as Kiwis after 2 or 3 generations. Too big a proportion of 1st generation migrants, and any state has problems.

And that is just the geopolitics. How do you address domestic funding for the huge induced costs of mass immigration Victor? New school classrooms, hospital beds and staffing costs, pensions, DPBs, WFF payments, etc. These can only be paid for if you keep 'growing the pyramid' with more migrants, as was done from 1993-2007. But that overheats the economy - great if you are a skilled tradesman in a scarce sector like nurses, doctors or builders who get much bigger wages, but terrible if you are a cleaner or truck driver or farm labourer.

And even then, such an overheated economy is based on consumption of more goods and services, paid for on the govt , council and personal credit cards. How do we pay that back when our key exporters get bought by Chinese or EU or US interests?

That is the immediate problem for NZ; the geopolitics is medium term. Solution? Cap immigration to static NZ population size, bring in tariffs on imports based on human rights, worker rights, and environmental records of import nations, and increase foreign aid to nations doing the same.

Mad Marxist.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - sorry Victor, I posted after I saw your 3:16 comment, but before I saw your 9:26 comment. To address the latter:

"The important factor, though, is the imbalance of power. "
I don't understand this, sorry. My point was that when we get sizeable enough ethnic minorities in NZ that owe their primary feelings of loyalty to the nation they grew up in, they will have enough votes to align NZ with China/India/Britain by democratic means. At that point control of NZ's geopolitical or economic direction by the existing population is diminished or gone.

"Yes, you’re right. Chinese business ownership and settlement has provoked a violent response in a number of places in the Pacific and also in Africa.

But, again, these are different sorts of societies to ours. "

Okay, so we kinda agree. I don't understand your 'different sort of societies' remark though. China in particular is pushing migrants and investment into lots of small nations in Africa and the Pacific especially. I've just heard of more such blowback against Chinese business dominance and immigration in Vanuatu on National Radio tonight. China seems to be trying to get control of the 'easy' nations - small population and politically weak. We are in that target range. That would give China a lot of sycophantic allies in the UN votes; similar to how Japan bought pro-whaling votes from the Pacific and Caribbean states.

On my 'do nothing, get 2 outcomes' suggestion. I don't see what China's economic power has to do with building a demographic pro-China voting bloc in NZ; they are doing this purely on migrant numbers. Ditto India (and Britain).

Regarding the 2nd option of cultural minority blocs competing for democratic control of NZ, our constitutional democracy is only as strong as there is a majority who respect that tradition. Get a big enough minority bloc or two who don't care for 'constitutional democracy', and you may see rapid changes. A good example was a BBC doco aired on National Radio a day or so back about Chinese Christian migrants in Vancouver, and the consequent tensions with white liberal Canadians, who don't understand the demands from the migrants for more socially conservative policies.

But what I had meant was the type of cultural clashes we see in Britain, with street robbery, rape & murder between ethnic gangs, murky organised crime control of tracts of business (vis Russian mafia control of London property, people smuggling, etc), and calls for Sharia law in ethnically dominated council areas (even ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams supported that!). Leading to rise in BNP, etc. Very dangerous.

But it's not all doom and gloom from me. It is easy to fix these things, but capping liberal immigration is vital to fix our economy and maintain our current democratic focus on human rights/etc within NZ, and consequently, externally in geopolitics.

Mad Marxist.

Anonymous said...

Helen C. left wing??? Ha!

Victor said...

Mad Marxist

I fear ours is a dialogue of the deaf. Let me try to make it otherwise.

You are focussing on immigration, which you seem to think causes most of New Zealand’s social ills, whereas I’m concerned about how we live in a region (and probably a world) dominated by a country with very different tradition to ours and no reason to like or respect us.

By the way, I think you’re incorrect in so baldly ascribing all our social ills to immigration, although it has undoubtedly exacerbated many of these and largely, if not wholly, failed to provide the economic benefits posited by its advocates.

And I simply don’t agree with you that a declining population would be to New Zealand’s advantage. But that, perhaps, is an argument for another day.

Similarly, as someone who’s lived in a number of different countries at one time or another, I think that the kind of comparisons you’re drawing fail to do justice either to the majority of recent immigrants or to New Zealand’s host population.

However, I do agree with you that it’s otiose and disturbing when large numbers of immigrants from much more powerful countries quite openly state their intention of voting primarily in their homeland’s interests. And, frankly, I’m appalled at how some Chinese immigrants have turned themselves into a lobby for tyranny (e.g. over Tibet).

But, clearly, immigrants putting the interests of their homeland first wouldn’t be anywhere near as disturbing if they came from small and powerless countries or from far distant places with interests that don’t intersect, for good or ill, with our own (e.g. Somalia). That’s why I regard the ‘imbalance of power’ as significant.

And here, I think, we come to the essence of what divides us. Obviously, any problems that immigration causes would be substantially reduced if immigration was itself substantially reduced.

But, if immigration was so reduced, China would still be there. So would its racially-charged nationalism. And so would the challenges of living with this emerging hyperpuissance.

I by no means demur totally from your fears of overt political or military colonisation. Certainly, arable land, fish stocks and water would make us a tempting little prize (and not just for China) in the resource wars that may well dominate the future of our region.

But, rather more immediately, I believe we’re on the road to the sort of relationship with China that Finland ‘enjoyed’ with the former Soviet Union; that of the giant’s tame little democratic, capitalist friend.

Inevitably, ‘Finlandisation’ will make us less free, less sovereign and less able to insist on our own interests whensoever these conflict with China’s. Hence, the questions I posed at the end of my post of 11.47 am on April 18.

I believe I raised significant issues in that post concerning New Zealand’s future and our relationship both with emerging powers (of which China is by far the most important) and with our traditional allies.

China’s rise means that we’re living in a totally new strategic, economic, political, ethical and cultural environment and I’m a mite dismayed by the tendency of the overwhelming majority of NZ commentators to view this new situation through lenses derived from other times and other circumstances.

Much of the Left continues to see all dangers as emanating solely from the United States (believe me, I’ve also done that in my time); PC liberals behave as if all we have to do is link hands and sing Kumbaya over a Green Thai Curry; right wing neo-liberals focus purely on the obvious, immediate economic advantages of doing business with China and ignore all else, whilst patriots of both Right and Left (your good self included) seem to subsume the whole problem under the familiar heading of “immigration policy”.

But, to my mind, it’s a much bigger issue than that and it doesn’t fit neatly into any of these narratives.

Anyhow, I hope this explains my position a bit better.

Anonymous said...

Hi Victor,

I wouldn't give up so easily if I were you ;) We seem to agree on plenty, but not on the importance of liberal (ie open) immigration. I see it as a central plank of Rogernomics, you seem to disregard the impact it has had on NZ.

Responding to your points:

- I attribute very few social ills to liberal immigration, but plenty of economic woes to it! Intractable house price bubble, loss of unskilled jobs to migrants, etc.

- I never suggested we should aspire to a declining population, nor would the measures I suggest achieve that. I aim for a static population - neither increasing nor decreasing. Take the pressure off Kiwis of competing with migrants, and they can tackle domestic and international issues.

- I completely agree that even were immigration capped, NZ would still have a subservient relationship to any powerful nation, like China.

- But... the Finland comparison is where I differ. Finland retained it's ethnic composition; they did not get swamped by Soviet settlers, unlike the Baltic states, and unlike NZ taking a 50% increase in population, much of it from these superpower nations we worry about. So while the Fins were politically & economically weak in contrast to the Soviets, the Fins could at least democratically decide to stick to goals that aimed to preserve their culture. NZ cannot if we have big minorities of 'Soviets' from China, India, etc.

It is the latter concern that makes me feel your geopolitical concerns are irrelevant until such time we address our changing demographics. NZ won't have a problem being a colony of China when we are majority Chinese! At that point, geopolitics for NZ cease to exist, as our geopolitics simply become those of our masters in Beijing. Or Delhi, or Washington.

In summary, your "imbalance of power" is really an 'imbalance of demographics'. If China or India were not so huge in number, we would not care about their economic or military might so much; we could address those through developing friendly trade & cultural ties. But such methods at the moment are just exploited as back door immigration routes (ie student visas & qual's gained in NZ get residency).

I was going to address your earlier questions, but... it seems futile. Until your generation realise the colossal harm being done by liberal immigration, and rapidly change it, you will find few younger people interested in those discussions Victor. We have more urgent needs than geopolitics. Like jobs, decent pay, lakes we can swim in, housing we can afford, etc.

Let's keep thinking about these things :)

Mad Marxist.

Victor said...

Mad Marxist

My apologies for not responding earlier. Unfortunately, life has interposed itself into our cyber exchange

A few points:

Firstly, I speak for myself and not for my generation. As far as I’m concerned any argument should stand or fall on its merits, irrespective of the age, social class, ethnicity, gender or gender preference of either the person making it or the person it’s directed to.

Secondly, I don’t know if you’re suggesting generational guilt. If so, I must say that I don’t buy into the idea (or any other form of collective guilt). So let’s not waste our time going there.

Thirdly, I’m rather surprised to discover that you’re considerably younger than me, as I’d formed the impression that sentiments on immigration such as yours tend to be found more amongst my contemporaries than amongst younger New Zealanders. But perhaps I should get out more.

Fourthly, I see shortages of jobs, housing and the withering away of health, social and other public services as social ills, at least as much as economic ones. So let’s not argue over semantics.

Fifthly, I agree with you that freeing up immigration was an integral part of Rogernomics. However, I believe that an increase in immigration would also have been needed at that point to move New Zealand forward on the Keynesian, Social Democratic, skills-based path that I’d much prefer to have seen taken.

The status quo wasn’t sustainable once Britain had entered the then EEC, thus depriving New Zealand of the indirect subsidisation of its economy by UK consumers. Properly handled, immigration could have provided a broader tax base, investment capital, much needed skills and a home market of sufficient size and sophistication to counteract wobbles in export markets.

But we bungled the policy, failed to place the appropriate emphasis on skills acquisition and left it to an exceptionally dumb and self-referential bureaucracy to administer (remember the phoney LSE Doctorate?). Moreover, we harnessed immigration to an unworkable free market doctrine and failed to understand that many skills could not easily be integrated into an economy as small as ours.

In addition, I agree, we placed a weight around our fiscal necks through an over-liberal family reunion policy. There are, however, plenty of legislative ways around the family reunion conundrum, should we chose to think about them (e.g. bonds, substantially higher fees for older migrants etc.)

Sixthly, as you’ve inferred, immigration places considerable short term social costs on any economy. However, there may be long term advantages to our schools producing increased numbers of bright and capable ‘New Kiwis’, who , unlike so many bright and capable Old Kiwis don’t have the right to settle in the EU. It’s too early to say where the quantum of advantage and disadvantage lies on this issue.

I would agree, though, that we’ve bungled the interface between immigration and tertiary education, allowing it to become too easy a back door into New Zealand.

Seventhly, I know you’re not advocating a substantially lower population. But that’s what you’d have got without a substantial rise in immigration. My understanding is that you regard immigration as one of the primary motors of emigration and believe the latter would reduce to virtually zero without the former. I simply don’t agree with you, although the evidence I would cite on this issue is all anecdotal.

More to come

Victor said...

Continuing previous post....

Eighthly, immigration is not the primary motor of unemployment, any more than is the alleged fecklessness of the unemployed. Much of the planet is in the grips of a long, drawn-out slump. But, before the slump, we had a marked labour shortage, with a skills deficit in just about every part of the economy. Nor is there any evidence of new immigrants being privileged in the search for jobs vis-à-vis New Zealanders. If anything, the reverse is true, particularly in current circumstances.

Ninthly I agree that immigration helps to fuel our ever-destructive property bubbles. But they’re caused in the first place by long-settled New Zealand families who are in the grip of the apparently eternal Anglo-Saxon real estate fetish. For most immigrants I know (apart from my fellow Poms), shoving your cash into badly built, high maintenance houses is simply a case of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

Tenthly, the argument that New Zealanders need to have immigration policy sorted out before they can address any other issue is simply absurd and vastly underestimates the intelligence of your fellow citizens.

Eleventh, I’m not quite sure if you’re arguing that New Zealand is an over-crowded country choking with excess population. If so, this would be simply laughable. We have around 16.5 people per square kilometre, making us 202nd in terms of density.

I could compare this figure with those of other island nations such as the UK (225 per square kilometre) or Japan (337.1 per square kilometre). But you’d probably regard such comparisons as inappropriate. So let me compare it instead with another country known for its small population, rural character and empty spaces, viz. the Republic of Ireland, which clocks in with 68.55 per square kilometre. So, if the economy could accommodate it (and that’s a mighty big “if”), we clearly still have a bit of wiggle room.

Twelfth, yes, this is a physically beautiful country with a vulnerable and unique eco-system. But the chief threats to this come from the long-ingrained propensities of mainstream New Zealanders (e.g. motor car fetishism, overstocked pastoral land use degrading waterways, poor urban planning ) and from commercial exploitation and not from over-population, let alone the specific propensities of immigrants.

Thirteenth, there are ways in which population can actually help preserve the natural environment. Creating the tax and customer base for a public transport system would clearly be one of them.

Fourteenth, we probably have an unbridgeable difference over culture and identity. You seem to view New Zealand as a finished work of art, rather like nationalists in various European countries see their various homelands (including Finland). I, however, see New Zealand as an immigrant nation, with its identity still a work in progress.

On the whole, I believe we’ve been culturally enriched by immigration, including the recent high wave thereof. That doesn’t mean that I think everything in New Zealand should be infinitely malleable or up for grabs.

Values such as democracy, freedom, egalitarianism, the rule of law, personal and social responsibility and concern for the common good obviously need to be upheld and advanced. On the whole, my impression is that most immigrants respect such values and share them. Where they don’t, we shouldn’t be afraid to demand that they do.

.....more to come

Victor said...

....concluding post

Fifteenth, we’re simply not heading in the direction of a majority Chinese population. Last time I looked, skills-based immigration was down and the parental generation that’s come in via the family reunification policy probably won’t be having further progeny.

We don’t yet have the 2013 census results but its predecessor placed our entire Asian population (including Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Koreans , Indonesians, Vietnamese, Japanese etc.) at just 8% of the total. Less than half of this is probably ethnic Chinese and those from Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan tend, in my experience, not to share the strong sense of nationalism encouraged in the PRC. Nor, of course, are immigrants from the PRC all of one mind. So, if we do have a “fifth column” it’s not all that large. That’s why I’m much more concerned by a very real international “imbalance of power” than an imagined local “imbalance of numbers”.

Sixteenth, although I can envisage a situation in which immigrants from the PRC might become one of the channels through with Beijing could seek to exercise influence over us, it’s rather harder to think of circumstances in which ethnic Indian immigrants would perform the same role on behalf of New Delhi. Certainly, though, I can imagine the hilarity with which us New Zealand-based Poms would respond to the thought that we take our orders from Whitehall. Meanwhile, you may have noticed that Washington’s extensive influence here doesn’t depend on vast numbers of locally-settled Yanks.

Seventeenth, despite all of the above, I agree with you that both our population and our level of ethnic diversity have expanded more rapidly than is ideal. But it’s a very simple matter to get rid of abuses such as those associated with family reunion or student entry. Meanwhile, skills-based immigration tends to respond to the job market, which, currently, isn’t very positive.

And, eighteenth, even if you got your wish over immigration policy , we would still have a long-term dysfunctional economy, crumbling infrastructure and widening gap between haves and have-nots.

And, to return to my original point, we would still face huge existential issues, including how to preserve the democratic sovereignty of New Zealand’s population, both those who’ve been here for several generations and those, like myself, who’ve made our homes here and tried to pull our weight.

Subject to Chris’s permission, I’m happy to continue this exchange. But it might be several days before I can return to it.

Kind regards

Victor