New Zealand investigates claims of Chinese link to break-ins at academic’s office and home
Professor of Chinese politics says she was threatened before her home was burgled last week
New Zealand’s prime minister has ordered the country’s security agencies to investigate a university professor’s claims that burglaries at her home and office were linked to her academic research on Chinese government influence in New Zealand politics.
Anne-Marie Brady, a specialist in Chinese and polar politics at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury, made the claims while addressing an Australian parliamentary committee last week.
According to The New Zealand Herald, Brady said her office on campus was broken into in December, and her home burgled last week, with computers, phones and USB storage devices stolen while other obvious valuables were overlooked.
Brady said the latest burglary was preceded by an anonymous letter threatening “pushback” against opponents of Beijing’s interests, with the warning: “You are next.”
She also claimed that her sources in China had been interrogated by state security officials.
On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed alarm and promised to look into the claims.
“I think anyone would be concerned [about] any criminal act if it were in response to the work she’s doing,” the report quoted Ardern as saying.
“If there’s evidence of that, we should be taking stock and taking action.
“I will certainly ask some questions.”
There have been a series of reports and claims about China stepping up efforts to influence the political systems of other countries including Australia and New Zealand, two members of the US-led “five eyes” intelligence alliance.
Brady’s work gained national attention last year when she published a report called “Magic Weapons” on China’s efforts to infiltrate New Zealand party politics, media and education, and to sway public opinion and political elites around the world to support its assertive foreign policy.
“Australia and New Zealand appear to have been a test zone for ‘united front’ activities in recent years. And it’s now reached a critical level,” Brady told the Australian parliamentary hearing.
In September, Yang Jian, a New Zealand member of parliament born in China, was accused of having links to Chinese intelligence and not revealing the decade or so he spent training and teaching at elite facilities, including China’s top linguistics academy for military intelligence officers.