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Archive for December 3rd, 2018

Treason used to be a capital crime in New Zealand . . .

Posted by te2ataria on December 3, 2018

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Just how far up our tushi does the Chinese arm reach?

Part two: It’s much worse than you thought – New Zealand is of major strategic interest to China

Chinese Influence & American Interests
PROMOTING CONSTRUCTIVE VIGILANCE

Report of the Working Group on  Chinese Influence Activities in the United States [and eight other countries including New Zealand.]

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Summary of Findings

This report, written and endorsed by a group of this country’s leading China specialists and students of one-party systems is the result of more than a year of research and represents an attempt to document the extent of China’s expanding influence operations inside the United States.  While there have been many excellent reports documenting specific examples of Chinese influence seeking, this effort attempts to come to grips with the issue as a whole and features an overview of the Chinese party-state United Front apparatus responsible for guiding overseas influence activities. It also includes individual sections on different sectors of American society that have been targeted by China. The appendices survey China’s quite diverse influence activities in other democratic countries around the world.

. . .

Around the world, China’s influence-seeking activities in the United States are mirrored in different forms in many other countries. To give readers a sense of the variation in China’s influence-seeking efforts abroad, this report also includes summaries of the experiences of eight other countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK.

 

NEW ZEALAND

The issue of Chinese influence operations in New Zealand began to attract significant attention in September 2017 when Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury, published a detailed assessment of that country’s experience in the weeks prior to national elections.

1. China’s influence operations in New Zealand are rooted in the same set of policies and institutions that guide its work globally, often proceeding outward from efforts targeted at the diaspora community. As has been observed elsewhere, influence operations in New Zealand have increased markedly since Xi Jinping became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese government considers New Zealand an “exemplar of how it would like its relations to be with other states.”

2. One unnamed Chinese diplomat even characterized relations between the two countries as similar to China’s close ties with totalitarian Albania in the early 1960s.

New Zealand is of strategic interest to China for several reasons. As a claimant state in Antarctica, the country is relevant to China’s growing ambitions in that territory. It manages the defense and foreign affairs of three other territories in the South Pacific.

It is an ideal location for near-space research and has unexplored oil and gas resources.

Most critically, as a member of the “Five Eyes” security partnerships with the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, New Zealand offers enormous possibilities for Chinese espionage.

New Zealand is particularly vulnerable to Chinese influence because it is a small state of 4.5 million people with strong trade ties to China. China is New Zealand’s second largest trading partner and a critical market for two of its most important sectors, tourism and milk products. It should be noted that New Zealand has historically pursued closer ties with China than many other nations. What is changing is the willfulness with which China appears ready to exploit this dynamic and to subvert New Zealand’s continued ability to independently shape its policy priorities.

Examples of improper influence in New Zealand include revelations that a member of Parliament concealed that he had been involved with Chinese military intelligence for fifteen years prior to immigrating to New Zealand; a New Zealand company found to be violating bans on exports to North Korea via its Chinese partner; and the almost complete domination of local Chinese-language media by pro-PRC outlets

Chinese Diaspora

There are currently two hundred thousand ethnic Chinese in New Zealand, primarily concentrated in Auckland. During the Cold War, Chinese New Zealanders “were neither pro-CCP nor pro-PRC” and its community institutions were “proudly independent.” Now, few activities are noticeably independent of Beijing.

In addition to its embassy in Wellington, Beijing coordinates its engagement with the diaspora through an Overseas Chinese Service Center, established in Auckland in 2014.

The organization considered most closely connected with PRC authorities in New Zealand is the Peaceful Reunification of China Association of New Zealand, which was founded in 2000. Controlled by the United Front Work Department, it has encouraged bloc voting in the ethnic Chinese community, fund-raising for friendly ethnic Chinese political candidates, and organizing of protests. The current leader of the association, a businessman in the food industry, also heads or has leadership roles in other United Front organizations in New Zealand and has been publicly listed as an adviser to the Beijing Overseas Chinese Affairs Council.

Several current ethnic Chinese individuals active in New Zealand work “very publicly” with China’s United Front Organizations in New Zealand.

3. In return they have benefited from fund-raising events held by the Peaceful Reunification Association, which has encouraged ethnic Chinese to vote for them. In the 2017 elections, a woman who led the New Zealand Chinese Students and Scholars Association was placed on the Labour Party’s election slate, but the party did not receive enough votes for her to enter Parliament. Chinese individuals active in New Zealand politics have also attended Peaceful Reunification Association meetings, where they stated their intention to promote China’s policies with respect to Tibet, promoted a think tank tied to the Belt and Road Initiative, and repeated slogans from Xi Jinping in local campaign materials.

Politics

In 2017, it was disclosed that Yang Jian, who to date remains a member of Parliament, concealed that he had been a student and teacher at two of China’s military intelligence colleges for fifteen years before immigrating to New Zealand.

He omitted this history on his English-language resume for his position at a New Zealand university, his permanent residency and citizenship applications, and his parliamentary position, but he disclosed it selectively to those speaking Chinese.

Yang has acknowledged the veracity of these reports, including that he was a member of the Chinese Communist Party, but claims he ceased his affiliation after leaving the country in 1994. Since entering government, Yang “has been a central figure promoting and helping to shape the New Zealand National government’s China strategy” and was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade from 2014 to 2016, which would have given him privileged access to information.

4. Chinese influence efforts targeted toward New Zealand politics transcend the diaspora community to include campaign contributions and the cultivation of relationships with former senior officials. Individuals with strong ties to United Front organizations have donated several million dollars, primarily to the National Party. One such individual, who donated $112,000 to the National Party in 2017, is listed as an officer of no fewer than seven United Front organizations.

5. Senior politicians who have secured high-profile roles in Chinese companies include a former party leader and members of Parliament who serve on the boards of the New Zealand affiliates of major Chinese banks. A former minister of finance serves on the board of a majority-Chinese-owned New Zealand dairy. In late September, a former prime minister who now represents an American company’s interests in China attracted attention for the sale of property “well above market rates” to an undisclosed Chinese buyer. Local politicians have also been targeted.

Business

Chinese companies have also been instruments of interference in New Zealand. After acquiring a stake in a local telecom company in 2011, Chinese telecom giant Huawei went on to win the contract to build New Zealand’s 4G wireless network in 2013.

Huawei also established research partnerships and other investments in the country that may be leveraged for nonbusiness purposes. In another instance, New Zealand aeronautics company Pacific Aerospace in 2014 partnered with Beijing Automotive Group on the sale of planes to the Chinese market. In 2017, Pacific Aerospace was charged by New Zealand Customs with knowingly and illegally exporting parts to North Korea via its Chinese partner.

Universities

New Zealand has long-standing scientific cooperation agreements with China, most of which are benign. However, since China renewed an emphasis on civil-military research integration in 2015, New Zealand, like other countries hosting major research institutions, has been targeted for its potential to further these aims. New Zealand universities have partnerships with several Chinese universities linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), including the PLA Institute of Military Culture (Massey); the National University of Defense Technology (Auckland, Massey); Northwestern Polytechnical University (Canterbury), Shenyang Aerospace University (UNITEC), and Xidian University (Otago, VUW). New Zealand regularly hosts doctoral students who were graduates of these universities and also hosts current students and staff on short-term fellowships. Some New Zealand academics have roles at PLAlinked universities. The potential for these relationships to be exploited requires a reevaluation of government policies on scientific exchange.

6. Civil Society

Media are a key target of China’s influence efforts. New Zealand’s local Chineselanguage outlets all have content cooperation agreements with China’s Xinhua News Service, participate in annual media training conferences in China, have at times employed senior staff affiliated with the Communist Party, and have hosted CCP propaganda officials. CCP officials have given direct editorial instructions to Chineselanguage media in New Zealand as part of the CCP’s strategy to blend overseas content with that in the PRC. On television, a Chinese-language channel has removed Taiwanese programming from its network. Xinhua has also established its own television station.

With respect to English media, China Daily in 2016 established a partnership with the Fairfax newspapers in Australia and New Zealand. The Chinese embassy has sponsored the travel of journalists and politicians. In other instances, donors with close connections to the Chinese government have donated to organizations that provide research funding and subsidize journalist and youth visits to China, as well as exhibitions, book publications, and other activities that “promote a non-critical view of China.”

China’s representatives in New Zealand also put considerable pressure on New Zealanders who speak up critically on China-related issues. Since publication of her initial report on Chinese influence operations in the country, Anne-Marie Brady has experienced break-ins at her office and home, according to testimony before the Australian Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

7. Conclusion

New Zealand’s government, unlike that of Australia, has taken few steps to counter foreign interference in its internal affairs. Charity fund-raising, which has been used by Chinese United Front organizations to mask contributions, remains excluded from disclosure requirements. New Zealand’s intelligence service still cannot investigate cases of subversion and foreign influence inside its political parties without the approval of the service’s minister, whose political calculations may inhibit action. And media regulations remain inadequate to address improper influence by means other than outright ownership, which may also merit reform.

https://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/research/docs/chineseinfluence_americaninterests_fullreport_web.pdf

Copyright © 2018 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

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