Heather du Plessis-Allan: Winston's war with China just got real

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 May 2020, 4:13PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Winston's war with China just got real

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 May 2020, 4:13PM

Take a look at what’s happening to Australia today and you’ll realise how much Winton Peters is gambling our economic future by deliberately irritating China.

China has just suspended meat exports from four Australia abattoirs. Just days ago, China proposed introducing tariffs on Australian barley.

This looks a lot like punishment for Scott Morrison demanding an investigation into the origins of Covid 19.

Australia’s trying to hose this down, saying it’s not retaliation, blaming technical problems. But it’s always technical problems with China. That’s China’s MO for how to use trade to inflict political punishment.

This is what Winston Peters is risking by using China as election fodder.

Let’s be clear: that’s what he’s up to.

That game last week of repeatedly calling for Taiwan’s reinstatement to the WHO and telling the Chinese ambassador to “listen” to her “master” in Beijing is an attempt to breakthrough the PM’s news dominance and get some headlines of his own.

The stakes have just gone up. China rebuked us overnight for violating our “One China” policy, and our PM had to clear up after Peters at her press conference today, reiterating that we still take a “One China policy”

Fingers crossed China understands how our political system works and that it knows Winston Peters going rogue doesn’t represent our national position.

But the fact she cleared it up means it’s worrying our PM. It should do given what Australia is experiencing.

Winston has got to be careful here. He will know as well as the rest of us that New Zealand needs our biggest trading partner to help us recover from the looming depression.

He would be wise not to sacrifice this country’s recovery economically for a few votes at September’s election.  It’s too high a price to pay.