Death sentence protesters can go hang

The Green Party’s Keith Locke, Amnesty International agitators and all the other hand-wringers who complain about New Zealand doing business in a country where murderers are executed should go hang themselves.

They wail about the need for Fonterra and our government to campaign against the death sentences imposed on some very bad people (and to come out swinging in favour of democracy and human rights).

But what do they expect should be done to those who poisoned the milk with which Sanlu (Fonterra’s Chinese partner) made a deadly baby formula?

Six babies died (at least) and a reported 262,662 or so children suffered kidney stones and other illnesses after drinking the tainted formula.

Two of those involved were sentenced to death while the chairwoman of Fonterra’s Sanlu venture, Tian Wenhua, was jailed for life and fined $NZ5.6m.

Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier said at the weekend the company accepted the court’s findings but did not support the death penalty. Thus it supports the New Zealand Government’s position on the death penalty.

Prime Minister John Key spelled out that position in the same NZPA report. The Chinese Government had a right “to take a very serious attitude”. And –

“New Zealand does not condone the death sentence but we respect their rights to take a very serious attitude to what was an extremely serious scandal.”

Amnesty International New Zealand’s chief executive Patrick Holmes criticised the decision to execute the men and raised concerns about New Zealand’s implication in the scandal.

The Green Party’s Keith Locke said the Government and Fonterra should speak out strongly against the death sentences imposed on the two Chinese men.

He welcomes the conviction of some of those responsible for the contaminated milk, but opposes the imposition of death penalties.

He said the death sentences

“…show the harshness of the regime towards anyone who embarrasses it, whether they are real criminals, whistleblowers or dissenters. Many Chinese knew the milk was being contaminated but said nothing for fear of repercussions from those in authority.

“Fonterra could not get any action from local officials when it first discovered the contamination. There was only movement, some time later, when the matter became public. Problems will continue as long as China remains a one-party state where corruption flourishes and officials hide behind a wall of secrecy.

“New Zealand companies have a vested interest in promoting more democracy because the opaqueness of the Chinese system creates many problems for their operations there.

“Fonterra, with its 43% stake in San Lu, has a particular responsibility to argue against the death sentences, and for greater openness and accountability in Chinese life.

“New Zealand should also speak out in support of those brave Chinese who, at great cost, are trying to bring about democratic change. We should be openly alongside the more than 300 Chinese citizens who signed the pro-democracy ‘Charter 08’ last month, many of whom have since been arrested and harassed.

“Our Government doesn’t do New Zealand business or the Chinese people any favours by keeping quiet about the lack of human rights in China.

“Helping China become more democratic will do more for New Zealand business than the preferential trade agreement New Zealand granted the regime last year.”

What a load of drivel.

If we are to stop doing business in countries with the death penalty and dubious human rights practices, we would stop trading with the USA – our second-biggest trading partner – for starters.

Nope. It’s a tough world, out there, and we must make a buck wherever we can, regardless of a country’s judicial system and other institutional arrangements.

The money taxpayers pump into foreign affairs is better concentrated on improving our trade relations than on trying to persuade a country like China to behave in a way our greenie do-gooders think appropriate.

Next thing we know, the Greens will be demanding we intervene to stop Chinese cows fouling that country’s waterways, or for Chinese chooks to be freed from being raised in confined spaces, or some such daftness.

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