New Zealand academic says break-ins at her home are intimidation move to silence research on China

  • 16/02/2018

A New Zealand academic known for her research on China's domestic and international politics believes a recent threat and break-ins are an intimidation move to silence her politically sensitive work. 

In 2015, Chinese government officials put pressure on the University of Canterbury and various government agencies to stop University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady's research into China's Arctic and Antarctic interests, she says. 

"People associated with me in China had been called in for questioning by the Chinese Ministry of State Security."

In December last year, her office was broken into. Then this week she received a threatening letter warning that she was going to be attacked, and her home was broken into and three laptops and two phones were taken, she says. 

"Meanwhile a jar of cash, my son's pocket money, in plain sight, was undisturbed as was jewellery, and the bedrooms were conspicuously disturbed.

"Someone's obviously trying to send a signal to me - it's probably more like an intimidation."

She did not lose any of her data and police were investigating the incidents.

Ms Brady says the Australian government is ahead of New Zealand in terms of protecting itself against foreign influences, having had serious problems in the past, and that Australia's Intelligence and Security Committee are considering a new legislation - the Foreign Influence and Transparency Bill - to crack down on foreign influence in Australian politics. 

Ms Brady says New Zealand was going "very cautiously" on responding to similar challenges.

"I think it's about time we made a statement, acknowledging that this is happening globally and that New Zealand will be doing whatever it can to defend our sovereignty.

"And that's not addressed to any one country - every country wants to protect the integrity of its political system and protect its sovereignty. 

"We can structure and reform our political system where necessary, to make sure the New Zealand political system is safe and secure."