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Salient. Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 25. October 4, 1976

New Zealand Merely Small Dot in Asia

New Zealand Merely Small Dot in Asia

Another related problem in trying to locate individual decision, like the cut-back on Malaysian students, is that despite the fact that NZ has tended ostensibly to act on its own initiative in Sea (especially since the British withdrawal East of Suez and the 1973 decisions of the Australians to withdraw from Malaysia and Singapore) it has by and large failed to work out an independent identity for itself as a nation.

New Zealanders still tend to think of themselves as an extension of Britain and, more recently in the last 11 months, of Washington. An editorial in the Indonesian Herald (1964) described NZ (and Australia) as just little white dots on a vast Asian Ocean and that neither Australia nor New Zealand had an independent foreign policy of their own towards Asia, tending rather to think and act in a British fashion because they were British.

The National Party and its present government is the best example of such foreign policy thinking and behaviour. In keeping with the best of British tradition,. Wellington is now the faithful and subservient "yes man" to Washington, allowing of course for very, very minor differences. The whole orientation towards Asia is conditioned by the former British colonial relationship in Malaysia and Singapore. Even though New Zealanders do not have any direct colonial pretentions in the Sea region there is a tendency with a Tory government to continue in an indirect, superior and dictating manner some of the former colonial ties and attachments.

It is this that conditions a true-blue Tory governments relationship with Kuala Lumpar and Singapore. It is difficult to think that Messrs Muldoon, Talboys and McCready think in terms of Australia and New Zealand relating to Sea on the basis of equality. There is always this implicit feeling of superiority in relations with South East Asia (Sea). N.Z. considers itself the developed part of the Australasia/ South East Asia region and looks upon South-East Asia as the underdeveloped (or to use a more respectable term, "the developing") part. It is perhaps in keeping with the idiosyncracies of the present Prime Minister and the ruling party to see what is happening in South-East Asia in black and white terms.

Before NZ can develop a very constructive and creative relationship with Sea the National government has to cast aside some of the philosophical cobwebs which determines its view of NZ's identity as a nation and where it is going nationally. If it fails to do this then foreign policy mistakes in this area will be a costly affair.

The National government needs to work out what NZ is as a nation. For example if one compares NZ with South-East Asian nations in terms of population, resources etc., NZ lags behind in many respects. In population terms alone Australia is insignificant when compared to South-East Asia's population of 328 million people.

And yet while South-East Asia is trying to develop a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality, the National government has seen fit to take a retrogressive step by scrapping NZ's plans for a nuclear free zone and has accentuated (via ANZUS) the notion of American military might on South-East Asia's southern periphery. This does not help the Asean proposal for the neutralisation of Sea.

In this sense the National government's perception of New Zealanders as a nation ("NZ the way you want it") is an underdeveloped one.