Andrew Little admits using burner phone in China

The Minister in charge of New Zealand's intelligence agencies may have inadvertently offended China.

Andrew Little - the Minister in charge of the GCSB and SIS - says he's used a burner phone in China because there's a risk the Chinese Government could be listening in.

"I think there's always a risk," Little says.

"[The Chinese Government] could be listening in, yeah."

On previous trips to China, Little has been given this advice:

"When I was Leader of the Opposition, advice I got was better to take a burner phone," he said.

Simon Bridges is visiting China and India along with MPs Gerry Brownlee, Jian Yang, and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi.

Newshub understands they won't take work phones or access parliamentary emails - not that Bridges would admit that.

"I don't talk about those things," he says.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was similarly cagey when she was in China. But her staffers did use burner phones.

"Regardless of what country I'm in, I wouldn't give away that level of detail."

The Chinese Embassy didn't get back to Newshub with a response to Little's revelation, but China's influence in New Zealand is a major political pressure point right now.

More concerns were raised this week over a $150,000 donation to the National Party from a Chinese national made through a New Zealand country.

"What happened here was legal but arguably it was equally outside the spirit of what our law intends," the Prime Minister said.

There have also been serious concerns over the ditch, with allegations a supermarket shopping bag stuffed with $100,000 cash from a Chinese property developer billionaire was handed to the Labor Party.

Property developers are banned from donating under local electoral law. Parliament here is considering whether we need to get tougher on foreign donations too.

"I expect that they would be thinking about that and coming up with a recommendation if they thought it was necessary," Little said.

Politicians taking burner phones to China is a sign of the distrust that underlines the relationship with the colossal power.

But a minister openly acknowledging that is quite phenomenal, one that China could very well see as a slight.


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