We're often reminded by our politicians of how important China supposedly is to New Zealand's economic health. It doesn't matter whether its a National or Labour politician, the message is always the same - China is our new best friend.

This is what Trade Minister Tim Groser had to say on October 1 to mark the first anniversary of the entry into force of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement:

'This FTA is a major milestone in our relationship with China. Trade with China is critically important for New Zealand - China is now our third largest trading partner.

'NZ-China relations have continued to go from strength-to-strength. The FTA has led to increased cooperation between our two economies in a wide range of areas. This engagement brings significant gains to both countries through increased knowledge-sharing and people-to-people links.'

When the agreement was signed by the previous Labour government, Prime Minister Helen Clark informed us 'that successfully concluding a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China represents a significant and historic achievement.'

New Zealand exports to China totalled some $3.5 billion over the past year. With this kind of money at stake our politicians are loathe to criticise China for just about anything.

Both National-led and Labour-led Governments have said little about China's appalling human rights record which has included military repression in Tibet and the Chinese regime's systematic use of forced labour.

Of the 'mainstream parties', only the Green's and the Alliance have been consistent critics of China's continued violation of basic human rights. Both parties opposed the signing of a free trade agreement with China.

New Zealand even went to the absurd lengths of banning the Falun Gong spiritual movement from Auckland's Santa Parade in 2008 - simply because the Chinese regime do not approve of them and actively suppresses the Falun Gong in China itself. This ban was orchestrated by Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and a regular visitor to China.

So it comes as no surprise that the New Zealand Government has had nothing to say about the execution of a British citizen, Akmal Shaikh, after a last plea for clemency failed.

Shaikh, who suffered from bipolar disorder and had no idea of what he got himself involved in, was caught acting as a drug mule for drug dealers - who were never caught.

His grieving family say he was duped into carrying a suitcase belonging to someone else when he was found with four kilograms of heroin.

The execution of Shaikh will of be of little concern to the Chinese regime which is executing people at an unrelenting and growing rate. While our politicians and business executives are crowing about the growing trade links with China, Chinese citizens are being executed every day. In 2008 1700 were killed.

Although it continues to deny it, the Chinese regime 'harvests' the bodies of the executed for various organs.

China's preferred method of execution has been a bullet in the back of the head but execution by lethal injection is becoming more common. Forty percent of convicted prisoners are now executed by lethal injection. This was the fate of Akmal Shaikh.

He may of been killed in one of China's hi-tech 'death vans.' They were quietly introduced three years ago. From the outside they look like ordinary police vans but inside they look like operating theatres. In these vans the prisoner is strapped to a electric-powered stretcher and injected with the lethal cocktail of drugs by the 'surgical team'.

The team of doctors immediately 'harvest' the organs of the deceased. The injections leave the body intact and in pristine condition for such financially lucrative work.

Akmal Shaikh was the British citizen and, indeed, the first EU national to be executed in China for nearly fifty years.

The British Government made some twenty seven representations to the Chinese government over the course of two years in a bid to have the sentence overturned. They were all ignored - including Prime Minister Gordon Brown's personal telephone calls to Premier Wen Jiabao

But China's economic influence now sees the British Government making soothing noises about the 'importance' of still 'engaging with China'.

The New Zealand Government will remain silent on Shaikl's execution. While it might wield the big stick to economically weak countries like Fiji, the National-led government will continue to roll out the red carpet for the murderous Chinese regime.

One of the justifications for fighting wars in countries like Afghanistan is - we are told - because of the violation of human rights. Yet when the Chinese regime puts to death a mentally ill man the National-led government turns a blind eye to this barbarity -as it has to all of the barbarism committed by the Chinese Stalinists.

In its desire to do more business with China, - what Tim Groser calls 'strengthening commercial links' the New Zealand government is undermining any claim this country can make to being a consistent advocate for human rights.

This clearly wasn't on John Key's mind in April when he boasted that China's Premier Wen Jiabao had told him that relations with New Zealand were at an all-time high.


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