millisphere (noun): a discrete region inhabited by roughly one thousandth of the world population. A lens through which to examine human geography — in this case empires.


According to the United Nations, as of November 2018 the total number of humans living on Earth had reached 7.7 billion — 1000th of which is 7.7 million.

It is estimated that there are a bit over eight million people on all the islands of the Pacific, from Aotearoa to Hawaii, making up the millisphere I call Te Moananui.

Sandwiched between the Han Empire (the People's Republic of China) and Yankee Empire (the United States of America), Te Moananui needs to be careful not to take sides as these two empires compete for global hegemony.

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On January 4, 2019 the US issued a travel warning for Americans travelling to China, fearing retaliations after Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was detained in Vancouver.

Meng faces extradition to the US to face fraud charges linked to allegations of helping Huawei avoid US sanctions on Iran.

Meng is also the daughter of Huawei's founder.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the behest of the US. Photo / AP
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the behest of the US. Photo / AP

In 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action limiting Iran's nuclear programme was signed by Iran and the US, and the P5 plus Germany, and ratified unanimously by the UN.
Sanctions were lifted under President Barack Obama but in 2018 Donald Trump unilaterally imposed sanctions again, following lobbying from Israel.

Later in 2018 the UN International Court of Justice "ordered" the US to stop the sanctions against Iran — a decision Trump ignored.

In November 2018, New Zealand blocked the purchase of Huawei telecoms equipment, following Australia's lead.

Spark NZ wanted to use Huawei for its 5G mobile rollout but New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau told Spark it had concerns about espionage and intellectual property theft, following instructions from America's National Security Agency (NSA).

The NSA cast off any restraint after September 11, 2001, and — along with its Five Eyes partners — engaged in mass surveillance.

In 2011, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks revealed the extent of the NSA spying and Barack Obama had to apologise to German chancellor Angela Merkel for spying on her from 2002 to 2013.

Merkel was not alone — Mexican presidents Calderon and Nieto, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff and hundreds of other world leaders had also been spied on.
So by 2018 it was apparent that no one should have any legitimate expectations about privacy.

Metadata from millions of phone calls and computer connections every day is profiling citizens and foreigners alike.

The NSA harvests facial recognition data and fingerprints from 1.6 million border crossings daily as well as from Facebook and LinkedIn etc, and it now has powerful quantum computers capable of cracking all types of encryption.

The NSA has also spied on Huawei and uses Huawei to spy on their customers in Iran, Afghanistan and Cuba etc.

It spied on Chinese past-premier Hu Jintao and on the Chinese banks but, most of all, the NSA spies on its own citizens — as do the Chinese.

The Han Empire has been developing computer surveillance and profiling in Tibet and Xinjiang and is trialling systems nationally where each citizen is graded from A to D.

For example, when you get a D grade the computer booking system won't issue you with a train ticket — you can still travel but it may have to be by push bike.

Should New Zealand be concerned about Huawei technology enabling the Han empire to spy on us? The NSA and the Yankee empire already do, so does it matter anyway?

In 2019 the only way to ensure any privacy is to hand-write a letter and post it in the mail.
Maybe it is time for New Zealand security agencies to go back to keeping files in hard copy — now the only way to stop them being hacked.

Adopting a position of neutrality towards the empires to the east and the west would mean telling the NSA that Aotearoa will let Spark NZ go ahead with the Huawei deal — on the grounds of price and quality — and that if we have anything really private to communicate to someone we will send them a letter.

Fred Frederikse is a self-directed student of human geography. Mapping the Millisphere, "a new millennium travel story", can be found at millisphere.blogtown.co.nz