The Chinese Embassy has lashed out at a Kiwi professor who claims the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to interfere in New Zealand.
The Chinese Embassy said in a statement to Newshub on Thursday that China has "always stuck to the principle of non-interference" and is "not interested in interfering" in others countries' internal affairs.
Canterbury University Professor Anne-Marie Brady, a Chinese politics expert, told a parliamentary committee on Thursday two of her friends, Yuezhong Wan and Weiguo Xi, died in a car crash on a highway near Tokoroa on Tuesday.
Brady said another friend of hers, pro-democracy activist Freeman Yu, was also involved in the crash and survived but is in a critical condition. The professor said she suspects foul play and the police are investigating.
The Chinese Embassy is waiting for the outcome of the investigation into the crash before commenting about it. But it responded to Brady's claims of Chinese "interference" in New Zealand in in a statement to Newshub.
"We oppose the behaviour of certain people to smear China by rampantly hyping up so-called 'Chinese interference' for their own gains," the statement said. "They don't even have the readiness to know the facts or hear China's voice."
The Chinese Embassy said China is "committed to the path of peaceful development", and "developing friendly and cooperative relations" with other countries.
"These people are trying to politicize normal people-to-people engagement between China and NZ. This has undermined the momentum for China-NZ cooperation and will damage NZ's own image and interests."
Brady told MPs she is suspicious about the death of her friends and wants the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) to investigate.
"I do think the SIS should look into it," Brady told the Justice Select Committee. "They were on their way here to make a petition to Parliament to plead with you all to please take the issue of China's political interference in our democracy seriously.
"They had a petition in which they say how unsafe they feel in New Zealand, not just them personally but the Chinese-New Zealand community, and that they feel the full infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party in New Zealand and that they are experiencing pain and fear because of this.
"They say the CCP is fully involved in our elections, through its agents and through its funding, and through proxy agencies... I urge you to take it seriously."
Police told Newshub a "thorough investigation" will follow to find out what caused the crash.
"An initial assessment of the scene indicates a northbound vehicle has crossed the centre line, glancing a southbound vehicle in the process before colliding head on with a third vehicle," a spokesperson said.
"Police can confirm we are investigating and will not be making any further comment at this time."
Labour MP Clare Curran told Brady Parliament is taking her concerns seriously.
"This committee does take the concerns that you've raised seriously. The fact that this matter is being discussed in a select committee should give you an indication of the seriousness with which we take it."
Brady has warned MPs before about what she's described as a foreign interference agenda by Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring the Chinese diaspora in New Zealand "under control".
She warned of a "concerted foreign-influence campaign" by the CCP in her 2017 paper Magic Weapons. It described the United Front, a CCP agency which aims to promote the policies and ideals of the CCP to control outside forces.
Her property was burgled in 2018 and she suspected it was because of her paper criticising China. It sparked an outcry from academics around the world, who penned an open letter decrying China's alleged involvement.
You can read Brady's submission to the Justice Select Committee here.