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Hipkins at World Economic Forum (WEF) not news. Short meet and greet with China’s President HUGE news. Why?

In brief
  • There was a lack of media coverage in the lead up to Hipkins’ appearance at the WEF in China.
  • In contrast, there was an overwhelming fuss about his meeting with China’s Xi Jinping.
  • Shouldn’t there have been more talk of his WEF attendance, to nip the conspiracy theories?
  • The WEF is fertile ground for conspiracy theories, so attendees should openly discuss it. 

Hipkins meets Xi 

The media gave outsized coverage to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ short meet and greet with Chinese president Xi Jinping, in Beijing, China, on 27 June, 2023.  

China is NZ’s main trading partner, so there is a huge incentive  for NZ to stay on China’s good side. And the  meeting obviously served China’s interest as NZ is practically the only 5 Eyes country not actively criticising the Asian superpower. 

Was the photo op with the Chinese leader a lolly for Hipkins’ aiding in China’s larger diplomatic efforts to manage rising tensions with the West?

Scant coverage of Hipkins’ plans to attend WEF’s “New Champions” summit

Hipkins’ other meet and greet, in China, was with World Economic Forum (WEF) founder Klaus Schwab. He attended the WEF’s 14th annual New Champions meeting in Tianjin. This was virtually ignored by the NZ media in the lead up and given only scant coverage when he attended.

The media vacuum around the PM’s participation in this event is ironic. Kiwis are browbeaten by the media and government (not to mention the WEF itself) about the dangers of disinformation, conspiracy theories and the threat of political interference. Yet, the paucity of coverage concerning the discussions resulted in fringe speculation mushrooming online. Topics related to the WEF were trending on Twitter NZ afterwards as a result.

Hipkins at World Economic Forum (WEF) not news. Short meet and greet with China’s President HUGE news. Why? - Centrist
How much influence the WEF has over New Zealand and elsewhere is not thoroughly discussed in the media.

People have suspicions of a WEF hidden agenda

The WEF seems to be a nexus for global leaders to meet and listen to high-minded and touchy-feely rhetoric about equity, diversity, inclusivity, the climate and social justice. 

Schwab made the call to leverage the COVID pandemic to pitch “The Great Reset”. He said “The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world”. This has driven suspicions about his agenda. With the eerie “You will own nothing and be happy” catchphrase, and sci-fi tinged theories regarding the so-called “4th industrial revolution”, the WEF continues to generate intrigue. 

Avoiding the subject  adds to the suspicion

In 2021, then Deputy PM Grant Robertson pulled out of a weekly interview on Magic Talk with Peter Williams a day after he was asked on air about The Great Reset and whether New Zealand would be a part of it.

“What exactly is his problem?” Williams asked at the time. As Robertson himself has used the phrase “reset” to describe his Government’s position on the economy post COVID in several instances.

Williams said Robertson should stop using the word reset as it’s creating suspicion.

New Zealand politicians show enthusiasm in participating and working with the WEF. But the media and government downplay their involvement rather than discuss what influence, if any, the WEF has over their policies. 

Feature image by Remy Steinegger

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