It is shocking to see how quickly this meme has come upon us.
21 December, 2018
New Zealand's relationship with China is rapidly deteriorating as the country is swept up in what long-time trade and foreign policy adviser Charles Finny describes as a "new Cold War" caused by the Western alliance pushback on Chinese cyber-espionage.
He's warning New Zealand companies operating in China to watch for signs of difficulties with customs procedures or government permissions, and for changes in tourism and international student arrivals.
Adding to the strain on a relationship that Finny believes has gone from constructive to troubled in the last six months was yesterday's disclosure that an investigation into complaints about Chinese government subsidies on steel imported to New Zealand has been reopened following a September court order.
The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) report on Chinese spying represents a small, new chapter in the weeks of increasing tension between China and the US both on trade and cyber-security issues, causing global financial market jitters and contributing to the absence of the typical end of year "Santa rally" in global equity markets.
The cyber-espionage push has led to componentry from Chinese manufacturer Huawei being all but banned from the next-generation 5G mobile telecommunications systems by members of the so-called Five Eyes global cyber-surveillance alliance: the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Coordinated actions by Five Eyes partners saw the arrest this month of a senior Huawei company officer by Canada for the US, followed by the potentially tit-for-tat arrest of three Canadian nationals in China.
"It seems to me that the new Cold War that seems to be developing is one that's being fought as much about technology as anything else," said Finny.
A former trade negotiator and diplomat, Mandarin-speaking Finny is a partner in Wellington lobbying firm Saunders Unsworth, which has represented Huawei in New Zealand. He is also chair of Education New Zealand, the government agency responsible for international education and marketing, with China the largest single catchment for foreign students studying in New Zealand.
"It has come to a head over the introduction of 5G technology equipment but I think it's going to be much broader than just telecommunications technology."
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