Wellington Scoop

Green candidate wants city policy for building ties with China


Media release from Richard McIntosh
Wharangi Onslow-Western’s Green candidate Richard McIntosh says the Wellington City Council needs to adopt a comprehensive PRC (People’s Republic of China) Capability Strategy.

“Wellington City’s international relations policy and Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) strategy both place particular emphasis on developing ties with the PRC,” Mr McIntosh said. “But they lack any real analysis of the benefits and costs of engagement with the PRC.”

Mr McIntosh said that judicious international relationship-building by Councils was important.

“Healthy international relationships are founded on clear expectations and firm boundaries,” he said, “but until Council clearly defines and communicates the benefits of its international policy, the effectiveness of work conducted beneath is going to be questionable.”

Mr. McIntosh questioned Council’s assertion that delegations between Wellington and the PRC have resulted in increased prosperity for both.

“I don’t see any evidence for that,” he said. “I can’t see it in the seven to ten year old press releases on the Council’s website. We mustn’t forget that Mayor Justin Lester, in a single evening in 2017, spent $100,000 to entertain a visiting mayoral delegation from the PRC. I would also question, in the absence of clearly defined and measurable benefits, if Wellingtonians thought this kind of thing was good value for money.”

And with the mayor announcing in June this year his wish to deepen ties with the PRC, Mr McIntosh said “now more than ever a clear-eyed assessment is needed of the benefits and costs of going down that path. Given the liberal, democratic principles underpinning our city’s success, I think Wellingtonians will want a broader assessment of the net benefits to their city than the narrow economic objectives prioritized by current policy.”

Recent revelations about the extent of donations to New Zealand politicians by PRC-aligned individuals and their companies demonstrate why a cautious approach needs to be taken by Councillors and executives to relations with the PRC.

“If the Council wants to continue to emphasize relations with the PRC, then it’s time we developed a PRC Capability Strategy that delivers measurable prosperity to Wellington. And if we are going to deepen our relationship with PRC cities and other entities we need to employ a China specialist to conduct the relationship.”

“As I said, healthy relationships are founded on clear expectations and firm boundaries.”


  1. Milly V, 17. September 2019, 7:25

    Do we really need more pro PRC candidates in Council?

  2. Dave B, 17. September 2019, 10:57

    @ Milly V, If you read the article carefully you will see that this candidate is not “pro PRC”. He is urging caution in assuming that links with the PRC will automatically bring benefits, and he points out that EXISTING politicians and council-controlled organisations have poured money into forging links with the PRC, without any way of measuring the benefits.