Labour are on to a winner as they sense and follow populist nationalism over the Crafar Farm sell-off. National risk losing that populist advantage if they allow the Chinese to buy it up, but risk damaging the relationship with China if they try to stop it.
The Nats would prefer Fay & co. find an extra few dozen million to satisfy the reciever, but realistically the Chinese are prepared to out-bid anyone for the strategic beachhead into the dairy supply chain, the security of freehold land tenure and an opportunity to safely store and passively increase the value generated by their trade surplus. That's why talk of a "market price" when Chinese (and ultimately the Chinese government) is involved is not an accurate descriptor in these cases.
NZ Herald: Labour leader David Shearer will visit one of the Crafar farms today to highlight his opposition to a bid to buy the farms by a Chinese company
The Overseas Investment Office is currently considering the bid by Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin to buy the farms, which could then be leased back to Landcorp.
It will then have to be approved by Government ministers.
Mr Shearer said he did not believe the bid added value to New Zealand and would see vast tracts transfer to foreign ownership.
There is no added value - they aren't building anything they are just wanting to take it over and become landlords (if the LandCorp lease-back concept is to be believed). The only "value-adding" there would be is of the purely economic sort where raw numbers matter more than quality and the negative effects on others; probably via the Chinese firm importing lowly-paid Chinese labour and management on the farms to increase their profit margin - they would see this as economic efficiency and productivity and thus "value-adding" but that is not going to actually benefit the local population or this country's interests.
However, the previous Labour government gave preference to Chinese over Canadians in the ability to own strategic assets:
Stuff from 2008: Wellington's electricity network has been sold to a company controlled by Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, in a deal the Government is expected to approve.
Cheung Kong Infrastructure, an international infrastructure investor listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, will pay Vector $785 million for the network.
Mr Ka-shing has been a director of Chinese state-owned companies and is thought to be close to the government.
it is unlikely the Government will oppose the sale, though it recently blocked a Canadian pension fund from buying 40 per cent of Auckland International Airport.
The sale is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval and it is likely that Finance Minister Michael Cullen will have the final say. A spokesman from his office said the Wellington network was not on land deemed sensitive, so the test for foreign ownership would be less rigorous than for the airport.
Dr Cullen has said the Government does not consider the network to be as strategic an asset as the airport.
Prime Minister Helen Clark echoed that view, saying last night that because the network was not on sensitive land it would not trigger the same criteria for consideration.
If the Labour government was pro-Chinese there seems little reason the Nats won't be too, and for the same reasons: fear and greed.
The Nat's will most likely continue this policy of selling network and wholesale assets to China as a preferred partner nation that the Free Trade Agreement seems to have established. These precedents - along with the increasingly sychophantic yielding of both parties to the American corporate machine - are being set and they bode ill for this country's economic independence and sovereignty.
It is interesting, perhaps ironic, that China - a victim of European colonialism and the imposition of foreign jurisdictions during most of the last two centuries - and their antithesis, the US - an aggressive colonising, expansionist power with vehemently protectionist articles of faith - should both find their strongest support (and that is to say they have met the weakest defence) in New Zealand. NZ is still a colony - but of whom?
UPDATE | 1:10pm:
NBR: North Shore district court judge David McNaughton has just released his reserved decision denying bail to Mr Dotcom. His three associates, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, will have their bail applications considered today.
Mr Dotcom will remain in custody pending an application by the United States government - specifically the FBI – to have him extradited to face indictments involving about $US500 million of alleged internet piracy, money-laundering and racketeering against the copyrighted film, television and music business.
He has been remanded in custody until February 22.
China (and Japan and other Asian countries attempting to be colonised) were forced by a succession of naval threats and battles into giving the foreign occupying powers a right to extend their laws into areas of these countries - including land laws. Japan fought for years to have the leases that resulted terminated as did China. India eventually took over French and Portugese colonies on the Indian coast after the British left. And here is NZ two generations later letting the outside powers do as they please - wilfully abetting the intrusion of their jurisdiction, acting as their agents.
Locking up gregarious Euro-geeks for the supposed crimes of distributing Hollywood videos without permission doesn't seem justified at all for commercial infringements whose remedy can only ever be financial. The criminalisation of copyright breach into a jailable felony is nothing short of piracy - the word the Hollywood lobby has misused to define the offence. If anyone is hijacking a vessel it is Hollywood hijacking the NZ government and the legal system, not someone making a copy of something someone else has copied - that is the opposite of piracy, they are giving not taking. If anything Hollywood is only entitled to a cut of what Megaupload has made - not some fanciful, inflated figure used to spook the naive and intimidate the judiciary into thinking the losses are real. Only a very small fraction of the people copying would have paid the full, bloated Hollywood price for the downloads.