Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Standing up for kiwi values

Last week, the ongoing democracy protests in Hong Kong saw a pro-Hong Kong student assaulted at the University of Auckland. The Chinese consulate in Auckland followed this up with a press release "express[ing] its appreciation to the students for their spontaneous patriotism" - effectively condoning the assault and inciting further violence in New Zealand. Now, MFAT has told the Chinese government that this is not acceptable:

The Government has rebuked China over its recent comments and actions where it sought to suppress freedom of speech and voiced support for violent opposition to Hong Kong protestors in New Zealand.

On Monday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials met with Chinese Government representatives in New Zealand to reiterate that freedom of expression would be upheld and maintained, which included on university campuses.

This is a significant move for a Government that has largely spoken generally about foreign interference and about democratic principles, while avoiding specifically mentioning China’s behaviour in recent years under an emboldened president.

Good. In China they might beat people for peacefully expressing their views, but that is not how we do things in New Zealand, and trying to incite such actions goes well beyond diplomatic norms. Arguably, its a crime, which makes the Consul-General party to any further assaults. And if there are further assaults, we should hold Chinese diplomatic staff responsible for their incitement, declare them persona non-grata, and deport them.