(from Free Speech, Act Party)
Free Press has acquired an earlier draft of the speech. The MFAT employee who wrote it has not been seen lately, and the final version Mahuta delivered was quite different. Nonetheless, we’ve reproduced it below, in case you’re interested.
(namecheck various people for a while)
Now we turn to the question of how a small nation should respond to tyranny. Some believe there is only one human right, might.
As the Milesians told the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War: since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
That quote has thundered down the ages, but it has also been disproven by the ages. It is a short-term play. People who live by that creed find life is hungry, brutish, and short.
In the long term, the world has become prosperous thanks to the rule of law. By recognising the inherent dignity and the creative potential in every single soul, we unleash the creative powers of a free society.
No amount of power can protect a dictatorship from the laws of nature. Suppressing people requires suppressing their minds. Suppressing minds suppresses creativity. No creativity means no prosperity. When your population expect six per cent economic growth every year, that is a dangerous game.
That growth also requires resources. When uprising is only a food shortage away, when you need cement, iron, and coal every day, you recognize you are interdependent with the world.
Let me pause to say my comments are by no means a criticism of China or the Chinese people. This is not a discussion about race or nationality. It is about human rights and philosophy. In fact, our Kiwi Chinese neighbours are the most strident in warning us of the Chinese Communist Party, for whom my remarks are intended.
The CCP might think New Zealand would be an outlier in the coalition of free societies. That would be a mistake. We intend to use our voice to promote human freedom.
By the same token, New Zealand is not picking sides. We are assembling a side. It has to be a side committed to solidarity in favour of universal human rights. We stand for them on principle because the lessons of human history are crystal clear. We also stand for them together, we are calling on likeminded nations to form a coalition of the free.
We note that the Americans were happy to let the Australians take the lead championing a World Health Organisation inquiry into COVID. Here’s the question: did the Americans withhold exports to China when China targeted Australian barley, or did they profit off of filling the gap left by the Australians’ principled stand?
Defecting from the coalition is as bad defecting from one’s responsibility to basic human rights.
The coalition of the free must assemble around a standard of human rights with agreed sanctions for Governments that violate them. No country’s size absolves it of the obligations of humanity.
We say to the CCP that the genocide in the Xinjiang is wrong. The world knows it is wrong, and it is only a matter of time before your own citizens find out and know it is wrong too.
The same could be said for the interference of PLA linked expatriates in our and other countries’ democratic elections.
The destruction of Hong Kong democracy is wrong. The intimidation of the people of Taiwan, who wish to live freely and democratically is wrong.
Your embassy’s interference in our universities is wrong.
Intimidating your neighbours one at a time is wrong and the correct response is a collective one. That is the kind of response that New Zealand proposes the world adopt.
The coalition must be prepared to retaliate with trade sanctions in proportion to any intimidation of any member. None of this is new. It’s been done before. It was called NATO, and what defeated the evil of communism can defeat authoritarian capitalism, too.
Some might say its brave for such a small nation to make this call. The truth is, it would be too dangerous not too. We cannot sit by and watch tyranny slowly but surely grow, today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan, the next day the South China Sea. How long can we believe it will not arrive in the South Pacific?
I invite every friend from around the Pacific rim who believes in human freedom to join the coalition for freedom, staying home is too dangerous.