It feels like we are headed for a clash with China. The only question is, how far can we push it before China hits us with economic punishment as they have done to Australia?
It is very significant that our Government accused China of sponsoring cyberattacks late last night, we have made similar accusations in the past, but commentators say the accusation has never been levelled by a minister before.
This time, it is a minister - Andrew Little.
The fact that we did it in cahoots with other western powers – the US, the UK, NATO, Japan, Australia – means that we are a little bit shielded from reprisal. It’s not as if China feels it must retaliate against us necessarily.
But they could, and at some point they may well choose to. We are not letting up on our criticism of them this week, it’s this last week we chose to adopt the new Western phrase ‘Indo Pacirfic’ instead of Asia-Pacific, which China apparently really hates.
We’ve called them out on the treatment of the Uyghur Muslims, we’ve called them out on Hong Kong, we’ve called them out on the tariffs they’ve used to punish Australia.
We probably didn’t have a choice on this one, China stealing IP is a significant problem, and we can’t always hang back while our allies do the heavy lifting. But you’ve got to wonder whether this is why foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta warned exporters for about three months now to diversify away from China.
When she said it was only ‘a matter of time’ before the China storm hits us you have to wonder if she already knew New Zealand was going to have to call China out and we’d be risking retaliation. And we are it’s just a question of how long China tolerates us giving them a serve before they give us one back.