Heather du Plessis-Allan: Xenophobia can't be blamed for Kiwis turning against China

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 16 Jun 2021, 5:12PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Xenophobia can't be blamed for Kiwis turning against China

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 16 Jun 2021, 5:12PM

This survey out today about Kiwis’ changing attitudes to China is fascinating, albeit not surprising.

It shows that 35 percent of kiwis now perceive China as a threat, which is a reasonable increase from last year, when it was 22 percent.

There are only two countries we see as a bigger threat and they are North Korea and Russia.

And for the first time there are more kiwis that see China as a threat than there are kiwis that see China as a friend.

Now I’d be willing to bet that it’s actually worse than this right now, because this survey was done in October and November last year. Things have got a heck of a lot worse since then.  

Since then, we’ve had: China slapping tariffs on Australian wine, Damien O’Connor telling Australia to treat China with respect which is pretty much an admission that we suck up, commentators in western countries calling us out for cosying up to China, the New Xi-land 60 Minutes piece, Nanaia Mahuta warning exporters to diversify, and Joe Biden running out the Covid lab theory.

So 35 percent?  It’s probably higher now.  

But this can’t be blamed, like it so often is, on xenophobia.

I heard the boss of the Asia New Zealand Foundation today trying to gently blame the media for fostering negative perceptions of china.

Nah, I’m sorry, this time it’s on China.

The media didn’t crack down on democratic rights in Hong Kong. The media isn’t torturing Uighur Muslims in camps in Xinjiang. The media isn’t expanding its naval reach in the South China Sea.  

China is to blame for Kiwis for viewing them more as a threat than a friend.

If it doesn’t want to be perceived as a threat, it has to stop behaving like a threat.