Chinese influence is everywhere

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Mika Kelekolio*

If you are worried about the number of Chinese coming to Samoa, well, you should look at what’s happening to New Zealand, Australia, Canada and every other country in the world.

Here in New Zealand, many, especially those of European descent, have openly expressed dismay at the large number of Chinese migrants arriving in the country every day.

The first wave of these migrants came originally from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in the early ‘90s. They were financially better off than the average New Zealander. 

What was also noticeable about them was, they didn’t seem to care what people think.

They spoke mainly mandarin. Even those who understood English would pretend they didn’t and would just carry on doing something that a nearby public notice says it’s prohibited like tossing cigarette butts on the street or spitting on the footpath.

Until someone screamed at them and they’ll say “solly, solly,” and walk away.

Unlike the U.S., Great Britain and Europe, people there are used to hearing different languages spoken on their streets every minute of the day and would not be bothered by it. Here, people’s ears popped up because they were so used to just hearing English spoken.

Now they had to get used to this chip-chop, animated manner of speaking which was like listening to a hovering helicopter.

Because they had money, they started building all these ostentatious houses in areas like Howick in Auckland (Winston Peters calls it Chowick) and Churton Park in Wellington. They were not reluctant to show off their wealth, something that Kiwis were not used to.

Antipathy towards Chinese among European New Zealanders was growing.

And when Winston Peters founded his New Zealand First Party to contest the first M.M.P. General Elections in 1996 advocating a strong anti-Chinese migrant policy, he didn’t have to campaign hard to attract a following.

There were all these retirees and those approaching retirement, many of whom, interestingly, were themselves migrants from Great Britain, Ireland and Europe. They soon banded together to form a highly effective political lobby called ‘Grey Power’.

Oh, how these sinophobics love Peters! They would come in their hundreds to his Party’s annual conference. He only has to say, “No more ah-souls from China!” and he would receive a standing ovation. Afterwards, he would take them to the Chinese eateries across the road because they were cheap.

During the recent elections campaign, some Grey Powers even accused the National Party, which not long ago was the preserve of white males, of importing its voters from China (51,000 arrivals for last January alone). That prompted Peters to sarcastically tell National that “two Wongs don’t make a white.”

It is projected that by 2030, Chinese/Asian will be the second largest ethnic group in NZ after the Europeans, as their numbers grow to 2 million.

Kiwis used to tell their overseas friends that New Zealand was a land of 2 million people and 6 million sheep. That will soon change to 2 million sheep and 6 million Chinese.

Our people who migrated here in the ‘60s and ‘70s will tell you that many of these “Grey Powers” were the same racists they had to put up with, in the workplace and on the rugby field.

They blamed us for taking jobs away from Kiwis whenever unemployment went up. They pointed the finger at us when crime went up despite statistics showing that Pacific people were responsible for less than 1%. Whenever education standards fell, it was because of poor performance by Pacific Island children.

Nothing we did, including our huge contribution to the NZ economy, seemed worthwhile.

Now that our children are doing well, especially in education and sports and have helped the All Blacks win three Word Rugby Cups while reducing once feared teams like the Springboks to easy beats, attitudes towards us have changed. Today, they wouldn’t mind us being their next door neighbour as long as our Sione doesn’t end up marrying their Michelle.

However, treatment meted out to us might not have been as bad as that received by Chinese who were here in 1900-1950. They, and other non-white immigrants were classified under the 1886 Aliens Act as “undesirable”.

They were not allowed to become “naturalised New Zealander”. Although that later changed for others, it didn’t for the Chinese who were instead made to apply periodically for permission to remain in New Zealand.

In 2002, PM Hellen Clark apologised to the Chinese community for the “unacceptable indignity” they had suffered as a result of New Zealand’s discriminatory laws.

Interestingly, when New Zealand took over the administration of Samoa from the Germans after WW1 broke out, they brought along with them some of their discriminatory laws. In 1921, for example, they introduced the Marriage Ordinance which incorporated a provision prohibiting Chinese marrying Samoan women.

The reason given was that such a union would pollute the Samoan race.

Ironically, while New Zealand was keeping the Chinese men away from Samoan women, the European men in New Zealand were polluting the Maori race by marrying their women at every opportunity. So much so that today, it will be rare to find a pure-blooded Maori.

This aversion to the Chinese was still evident four years ago when National Foreign Affairs’ Minister, Murray McCully repeatedly voiced New Zealand’s concern about the increasing influence China was having in the Pacific especially with its open chequebook approach to aid.

They even accused the Chinese of using the Pacific Islands for money laundering, lecturing us islanders about the risks our economy could face of being black-listed if the practice persisted.

The irony of it all is that, it was New Zealand who ended up with egg in her face when Wikileaks revealed last year in the leaked “Panama Papers” that hundreds of millions of dollars was being laundered through New Zealand by overseas businesses and individuals using New Zealand as a tax haven because of its lax laws.

How things have changed!

Today, NZ’s ‘rock star’ economy is propped up by the Chinese as China becomes its largest export market.

The Free Trade Agreement signed between the two countries in 2008 opened the door not only for free flow of business and goods mainly from NZ to China, but migration and investment mainly from China to NZ. As one of my colleagues said, there is so much money in China that Kiwis should be worried that one day a Chinaman will visit, takes a look at NZ and likes it, then puts down a deposit.

They are buying up Kiwi businesses, farms, meat-works (which are also being used to launch their scientific research balloons), high-rising apartment buildings especially in Auckland as well as gangs to manufacture and sell methamphetamine (ice).

They are even funding infrastructures like highways and expressways which is worrying trade unions who believe that it will lead to Chinese contractors bringing in thousands of their own workers. Sounds familiar?

Oh, and they’re even buying up NZ politicians and ex-politicians and/or their spouses and make them company directors or board members.  Ex National PM Dame Jenny Shipley and ex-Minister of Finance Ruth Richardson, for example, are on a number of company boards in China.

Don Brash, ex-Governor of the Reserve Bank is a director of a major Chinese-owned Bank. Judith Collins’ spouse is involved in Chinese company, as are a number of other ex-National Ministers and MPs.

And if that is not worrying enough, National has among its current MPs a Mr Jian Yang who is alleged to have trained as a spy in China before moving to Australia and then NZ.

An investigation by NZ journalists found that he was wooed to National and later to Parliament as a list MP by ex-PM John Key, who himself is now a consultant to a communications company developing business projects in China and Asia.

As said at the start of this article, Chinese influence is everywhere. Even in the U.S.A who, this year owes China $1.105 trillion, 28% of which is in Treasury Bills.

So next time New Zealand or Australia increase their aid to us in the Pacific, you’ll know where the money is coming from and should thank China accordingly.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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