Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will be “asking questions” if there’s evidence that break-ins at Christchurch academic Anne-Marie Brady’s home and office were connected with her work on China’s international influence campaigns.
Ms Brady’s work has gained attention world-wide.
The New Zealand Herald reported Ms Brady yesterday told the Australian Parliament’s intelligence and security committee that three recent events had caused her concern.
“I had a break-in in my office last December, I received a warning letter this week that I was about to be attacked, and yesterday I had a break-in at my house,” she said.
She considered the break-in at her home was particularly suspicious.
Ms Ardern was asked at her post-cabinet press conference whether she was concerned about the reports.
She said she would be concerned if there had been any criminal acts in response to Ms Brady’s work.
“I’ve only just been advised of the public report but I’ll certainly ask some questions in that regard,” she said.
Ms Ardern is Minister for National Security and Intelligence.
Last year Ms Brady published a study saying China had expanded its attempts to influence foreign nations under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, and urged the New Zealand Government to mitigate that threat.
New Zealand has assiduously courted China over the years, touting its credentials as the first developed nation to recognise China as a market economy, support its accession to the World Trade Organisation, and start and complete a free trade agreement.
That has put it at odds with some of its traditional security allies, such allowing Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei to build telco networks domestically in contrast to Australia which banned the China company from bidding on the National Broadband Network build and more recently blocked a Huawei-made undersea cable from connecting to Australia’s network.