A New Zealand academic is warning that China's influence over this country is at a "critical level".
University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady is urging the Government to act to protect the country against foreign interference.
In a policy brief published today, Ms Brady warns: "New Zealand - along with other nations - is being targeted by a concerted interference campaign by the People's Republic of China (PRC). The campaign aims to gain support for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by co-opting political and economic elites."
She claimed China has had a "profound" influence on New Zealand's democracy including: "a curtailing of freedom of speech, religion, and association for the ethnic Chinese community, a silencing of debates on China in the wider public sphere, and a corrupting influence on the political system through the blurring of personal, political and economic interests."
Ms Brady says the new Government should instruct the SIS to engage in an in-depth investigation into what she says is China's subversion and espionage activities in New Zealand and that the Prime Minister and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) should engage in an in-depth inquiry into China's political influence in New Zealand.
Ms Brady also makes the following recommendations to the new Government:
- The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs should instruct the Commerce Commission to investigate the CCP's interference in the Chinese language media sector which breaches monopoly laws and our requirement for a free and independent media
- The Attorney General must draft new laws on political donations and foreign influence activities
- Parliament must pass Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism legislation
- The Government should appoint its own people in government-organised NGOs that shape and articulate China policy such as the NZ China Council and Asia New Zealand Foundation