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Greens: NZ Govt And Fonterra Should Speak Out Against Death Sentences In China

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Keith Locke
Keith Locke

23 January 2009 - The Government and Fonterra should speak out strongly against the death sentences imposed on two Chinese men for their role in contaminating milk, says Green MP Keith Locke.

The Green Party welcomes the conviction of some of those responsible for the contaminated milk, but opposes the imposition of death penalties. "The death sentences are a symbol of the problem, not part of the solution," said Mr. Locke, Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

"They 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."

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