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New Zealand

New Zealand academic demands police protection, says China ‘sabotaged’ her car tyres

  • Her home was burgled in February, with computers, mobile phones and USB sticks stolen
  • She says she became a target after the release of a paper on Chinese foreign influence last year
PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 3:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 8:36pm

New Zealand police are investigating claims that Anne-Marie Brady, a prominent academic and critic of China’s influence abroad, has been targeted again, this time having her car sabotaged.

Brady, an expert in Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, had her home and office burgled in February, with computers, mobile phones and USB sticks targeted. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time the government would be “be taking stock and taking action”.

Now, police are widening their investigation after claims someone intentionally tampered with her car, too. On Thursday the mechanic who regularly services Brady’s car in Christchurch discovered a series of unusual defects during a routine inspection, and phoned Brady “very agitated”, expressing concern that her car had been deliberately sabotaged.

Air had been let out of two front tyres, he said, and both tyres were also missing valve caps, making steering and breaking more difficult and increasing the chance of an accident. Brady says she became a target after the release of a paper on Chinese foreign influence last year.

She told The Guardian: “I don’t know who has done it, but whoever has done it has been able to get into my garage and access the car, so essentially it is another break-in.

“If a proud, independent democracy like New Zealand cannot deal with Chinese political interference activities, this is a really bad sign.

“I am really concerned about the safety of my family. About four months ago we asked for more protection from the New Zealand security intelligence service … we haven’t had a reply.”

“We are doing everything we can to improve security in our home. But New Zealand is a very open society … we’re just doing the best that we can by ourselves, but we’re not security specialists.”

New Zealand investigates claims of Chinese link to break-ins at academic’s office and home

A police spokesperson confirmed the investigation was ongoing and they were examining “all lines of inquiry”. “We can confirm that concerns have been raised in regard to the victim’s vehicle and we are investigating these,” the spokesperson said.

Despite Ardern expressing her concern, Brady said she felt the government’s response had been slow and that the issue wasn’t a priority.

She said: “If a proud, independent democracy like New Zealand cannot deal with Chinese political interference activities, this is a really bad sign to the rest of the world of the way things are going.”

“Other countries are worried about New Zealand, and the apparent silence on the issue from our government … New Zealand is the canary in the coal mine, if we cannot deal with it, who can?”