Burglary of Kiwi professor Anne-Marie Brady sends shockwaves through academic world

A series of targeted attacks on a Christchurch professor who researched the Chinese Communist Party's Western influence has prompted academics across the world to beef up their own security.

Professor Anne-Marie Brady teaches Chinese political studies at the University of Canterbury.

On February 14, 2018, her house was broken into while she was out. The burglars seemed to have had a specific target in mind, ignoring cash and valuables in favour of the old laptop she'd used for her most recent research, as well as a cheap cellphone she used while travelling in China.

Five police staff investigated the burglary over seven months, revealing earlier in September that the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) was also involved.

Prof Brady told NZME that the investigation indicated that the burglary was a response to her work on China and was "intended to intimidate" her.

Former CIA analyst Peter Mattis agrees, saying that Prof Brady's research into China's worldwide influence means that "intimidating her into silence would in a sense be a major win".

In the wake of the attacks on Prof Brady, Australian and American academics involved in China research have beefed up their own security.

One of Prof Brady's fellow China researchers says he's concerned.

"People advising me on my security have been quite alarmed," Australian academic Clive Hamilton said of the burglary at Ms Brady's home.

"If China is targeting her, there's a good chance they're targeting me."

The February break-in wasn't the first time Prof Brady felt targeted by Chinese officials. She says her computer hard drive was tampered with while she was in China, and that members of the Communist Party questioned those she spoke with while in the country.

She also claims she received a letter warning her she'd be attacked before the burglary.

In September 2017, she published a paper which laid out the Communist Party's plans for attaining worldwide influence, and examined New Zealand as a case study of Chinese influence.

Soon after the report was released, her office at the university was broken into.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has declined to comment on the case, but told NZME she would take action if evidence proved a foreign power was behind the attacks on Prof Brady.