Sep 21, 2008

Laws On Beijing Embassygate

Michael Laws also has a comment today on the role of the NZ Embassy in Beijing in the delayed approach to the Chinese Government over the poisoning of thousands of Chinese babies.

Besides, Fonterra hinted, this was China, and they do things different there. That's why it contacted the New Zealand embassy in Beijing instead.
Quite what Fonterra told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we do not know. We do know, via a timeline published on Friday morning, it took New Zealand's embassy in Beijing 17 days to relay the critical information to the prime minister's office.
At that point, New Zealand did the proper thing and so, it appears, did the Chinese government.


More important: when did Mfat know and why didn't it alert Wellington sooner? Could it be the distraction of their suspended minster had an effect? Although it was the trade side of their byzantine department, rather than the foreign affairs, that might have reacted sooner.
Trade Minister Phil Goff's explanation has not reassured. Apparently, our Beijing office "needed to know more" and that was why it took 17 days to inform Wellington. Only a moron would consider Wellington need not be alerted instantly, given the trade stakes involved. Apparently our Beijing office has plenty.
Certainly a lesson has been learnt, as if it needed to be, and that is China is different. And that you can't trust their corporates or their administrative culture or any innate moral sensibility to rise to the surface. Our free trade agreement is a deal with the devil, so why are we so surprised there are direct moral costs as a consequence. Like staying silent while children die.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary privileges committee - the highest kangaroo court in the land - grinds on. If Fonterra and Mfat officials were subject to the same scrutiny as Winston Peters the results would prove infinitely more important. They are the same questions - who knew what and when, and who did they tell? And why the lack of transparency?