Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Shaking hands with a tyrant

So, the deal is done. It's an excellent deal economically [PDF], but that's hardly the point. Given the nature of the Chinese regime, we should not have signed it with them. The legitimacy conveyed by this arrangement is something that should have been held out as a reward for a significant improvement in human rights. I accept that the Chinese regime is there, that it's not going to go away overnight, and that therefore we have to talk to them. I can also accept that as a country with an established open market policy, we can hardly slam the doors in China's face overnight. But that's a long way from flinging them open and rolling out the red carpet. Recognition and civility are very different from friendship and preferential treatment, which is what Clark has just signed us up for. Thanks to her, we've just signed up to be Best Trade Friends with a murderous regime which is still shooting protestors and jailing dissidents, and was likely torturing someone at the very moment Clark and Goff were congratulating themselves over how much money kiwi farmers would be making. I don't know how they sleep at night.

Meanwhile, there's not a mention of Helen Clark's raising human rights with the Chinese regime in either the government's press release, or the Stuff or Herald pieces on the deal. You think they'd mention something like that, especially since Clark had made so much noise about it. The fact they haven't suggests we've been had.