Doubt over report on China initiative
Canterbury University academic AnneMarie Brady says PwC’s latest report on China’s Belt and Road initiative has ignored a large body of critical analysis.
Opportunities for Kiwi businesses from the China-led project were presented by Sir Don McKinnon at a function in Christchurch yesterday held by the New Zealand China Council.
PwC said it did not necessarily reflect the Government’s views.
The Belt and Road initiative, announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and named in the Chinese constitution, aims to expand trade from China to the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and South America via New Zealand.
Brady described it as the Xi govern- ment’s initiative to create a Chinacentred economic bloc which will reshape the global order.
Also known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR), it seeks investment partnerships to acquire global natural resource assets and seek international infrastructure projects, she said.
According to PwC’s report, Belt and Road will be one of the most important economic opportunities for New Zealand over next decade.
The report identified trade facilitation such as customs clearance protocols, supply-chain hubs, innovation and commercialisation of research, easier movement of goods and people between South America and China via New Zealand, creative opportunities for Weta Workshop, and game simulation.
China is undertaking seven transport projects including roads, railways and ports linking its cities with Europe, Russia, the historic Silk Road to Turkey, and highways to Pakistan, Myanmar and Southeast Asia, plus ‘‘maritime silk roads’’ to Africa and Oceania. Enhancing links between New Zealand and South America would enhance overall security of supply for goods from China, the report said.
New Zealand was the first Western developed nation to sign a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road initiative in March 2017 under National, and it included agricultural research co-operation.
PwC concluded that New Zealand could not afford to pass up the opportunity of Belt and Road.
Meanwhile, Canterbury University’s Brady said China was interested in New Zealand because of its influence over Pacific islands for voting power in the United Nations, access to Antarctica, cheap arable land, and the possibility of diluting the Five Eyes spy defence arrangement with Western allies.
The March 2017 signing coincided with the launch of the Oceania Silk Road Network, the New Zealand OBOR Foundation, and the New Zealand OBOR Think Tank.
Brady said Labour did not yet have an official policy.
In a speech on March 14, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made one brief reference: ‘‘The Belt and Road initiative is a priority for China. New Zealand is considering areas we want to engage in the initiative, and other areas where we will be interested observers.
‘‘We will look to co-operate with China to promote regional stability and development, consistent with New Zealand values of openness, transparency and the rule of law,’’ Ardern said.
Sir Don McKinnon presents a PwC report on China’s global trade and investment initiative, Belt and Road, at a function in Christchurch.