New Zealand hasn’t exactly been on the charm offensive lately in our relations with our biggest trading partner.
We should expect nothing different from Mr. Peters, who is playing to form. However he did spark a call on Facebook for a class action defamation lawsuit.
However, Henry van der Heyden’s remark, which became the only thing people remembered from his speech, caused consternation among netizens. The weibo conversation below sums up the variety of feelings around the issue:
Sammie responded by saying, “A ‘Sir’ and a ‘Right Honorable’ saying these things, that’s a lot of trouble!”
Bevan came back saying, “New Zealanders and the Chinese community are used to ignoring Winston Peters, but this comment from Henry van der Heyden is hard to believe!”
Then “Manchester United White” (with the Alex Fergusson avatar) forwarded the conversation, adding this gem:
“Yes. Don’t trust the Chinese. Instead, it’d be safer to be isolated among South Pacific nations selling coconut juice to each other. By the way, Australia is also really poor.”
The news story on Chinese news site SkyKiwi.com attracted a wide range of comments, some similar to those above, while others defended van der Heyden as being misrepresented. That story was read by almost 9000 people, here in New Zealand, and back in China.
New Zealand Inc, it seems the ball is in our court to get better at our communication.