Former CIA analyst says New Zealand should be kicked out of Five Eyes alliance

The Five Eyes spy base in Waihiopai.
The Five Eyes spy base in Waihiopai. Photo credit: File

A United States Congress hearing has been told New Zealand politicians are receiving "major" donations from China, with one former CIA analyst suggesting we be kicked out of the Five Eyes alliance.

Senator James Talent alleged at the hearing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has "gotten very close to or inside the political core" of both New Zealand and Australia. He claimed he's heard allegations of "Beijing-linked political donors buying access and influence with party politicians" to incentivise the country to "parrot its line on issues it deems important".

"It's important for the United States to consider that China may be testing methods of interference to probe for weaknesses in democracies in order to use the same techniques against Western countries in the future."

Former CIA analyst Peter Mattis told the hearing one of the "major fundraisers for Jacinda Ardern's party" has links to United Front, an agency for the Central Committee of the CCP.

"You have to say this is close enough to the central political core of the New Zealand system that we have to think about whether or not they take action and what kinds of action."

When asked if he was implying whether the country may have been compromised "to the point we shouldn't continue" with the Five Eyes arrangement, Mr Mattis replied: "Precisely."

"Especially once it involves members of Parliament, it requires the Prime Minister to make a decision themselves of whether or not there's an investigation of them.

"If the Prime Minister is not going to make that decision, then nothing can happen below that."

The Five Eyes group - New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Canada and the US - formed at the beginning of the Cold War, and share a broad range of intelligence.

The hearing was before the US China Economic and Security Review Commission. The full transcript is available here.

Ms Ardern has previously discounted any suggestion of a Chinese influence in Government.

"I haven't seen evidence of the kinds of issues they are talking about here in New Zealand," she said in December.

"That's not to say we should be complacent. We have to be vigilant and we are."

New Zealand's donation rules ban parties from accepting more than $1500 from overseas donors other than New Zealand citizens.

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