'Abandoned and afraid': Kiwi academics urge Jacinda Ardern to stand against China

A Canterbury professor who has warned about China's influence in New Zealand says she's asked for police protection from intimidation.

Anne-Marie Brady has been the victim of burglary and possible vehicle sabotage, and the Prime Minister is facing calls to publicly support Ms Brady.

"My family and I, particularly in the last week, have been feeling abandoned, afraid and unsafe," Ms Brady told Newshub.

Her office has been burgled twice, her home has been broken into, and her car has been tampered with.

Police, the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and Interpol are on the case. Ms Brady has asked them for protection, but hasn't been given any.

As many as 29 academics have called on the Prime Minister to speak out, saying "attempts to intimidate and harass one academic in New Zealand have implications for the freedoms of all who live here".

"Not only did it seem to be a direct threat to her safety and the safety of her family, but it was something that was likely to cause a chilling effect," London School of Economics Phd Candidate Tze Ming Mok says.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won't act, and is still waiting for a full police report.

"I absolutely defend the right of academics to utilise their academic freedom," she says.

Tension is growing between China and the US, and New Zealand wants to stay on good terms with both of them. 

Ardern was supposed to travel to China in October - the trip keeps getting pushed back and has now been postponed until March or April next year.

The Chinese Embassy told Newshub that the China-New Zealand relationship is sound, but if an academic has been threatened by the Chinese state, it breaks international rules and norms.

The Government's already facing a major challenge with China's influence in New Zealand and the Pacific.


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