Last minute protests over China’s free trade deal

TV3 (New Zealand) | Sat, 05 Apr 2008

Last minute protests over China’s free trade deal

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Protestors in Auckland and Wellington have made a last minute plea to stop a free trade agreement between New Zealand and China.

Helen Clark and Phil Goff are on their way to China, where the agreement, which has been three years in the making, is almost certain to go ahead.

But protestors say the Government is ignoring human rights for the sake of selling a few pounds of butter.

“It will put 20,000 New Zealand jobs at risk these are jobs in areas such as manufacturing and they will be replaced by low quality jobs such as stacking the shelves of the Warehouse with Chinese products,” says John Minto, one of the activists.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has been distracted by other international concerns, taking part in conferences in England involving British leader Gordon Brown and other world leaders.

Now she will join a delegation of a 150 New Zealand business and government representatives who are on the way to China.

And despite disapproval, some of those at today’s rallies were resigned to the fact the free trade deal is going ahead.

“Well it’s going to happen, so let’s take the best we can out of it. There will be ongoing relations between out two nations so there’ll be dialogue and the issue of Tibet will keep coming up so good on Helen if she does it,” says Claire Clark.

New Zealand will be the first OECD country to sign a free trade agreement with China.

United Future’s Peter Dunne was asked to join the delegation, but he refused, to protest at the treatment of the Tibetan people.

“I do think we need to be using it to our advantage to be pushing very strongly the international human rights issues like the situation in Tibet,” Dunne says.

After years of negotiations with China there’s little chance the agreement won’t go forward... But all eyes will be on the Prime Minister to see if she uses the closer relationship with China to make a stand about human rights.

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source: TV3