China watch­ers call for pro­tec­tion for pro­fes­sor

The Press - - News -

A se­ries of un­usual bur­glar­ies, re­ports of spies look­ing for lis­ten­ing de­vices and claims of car tam­per­ing have prompted alarmed ex­perts around the world to call on New Zealand’s gov­ern­ment to pro­tect a vo­cal China critic.

Univer­sity of Can­ter­bury pro­fes­sor Anne-Marie Brady says she has been vic­tim of at­tempts to si­lence her since the pub­li­ca­tion of her ma­jor re­port crit­i­cis­ing China’s al­leged in­flu­ence in New Zealand last year.

In Fe­bru­ary, she told an Aust- ralian par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee her of­fice and home had been bur­gled, not­ing lap­tops had been taken but other valu­ables left un­touched.

New Zealand po­lice in Septem­ber con­firmed there was an on­go­ing, un­usu­ally long and well-re­sourced probe into the break-ins, with In­ter­pol called in The NZ

Her­ald re­ported spies had been called to search Brady’s of­fice.

Now, in an open let­ter, 164 aca­demics, for­mer diplo­mats and jour­nal­ists from around the world have called on the New Zealand Gov­ern­ment to give Brady po­lice pro­tec­tion.

‘‘The ha­rass­ment cam­paign against Brady risks hav­ing a chill­ing ef­fect on schol­arly in­quiry, al­low­ing the CCP [Com­mu­nist Party of China] to in­ter­fere in the pol­i­tics of our so­ci­eties un­fet­tered by in­formed scru­tiny,’’ it says. ‘‘We urge the New Zealand au­thor­i­ties grant Pro­fes­sor Brady the nec­es­sary pro­tec­tion to al­low her to con­tinue her re­search, send­ing a clear sig­nal to fel­low re­searchers that in­de­pen­dent in­quiry can be pro­tected.’’

The let­ter comes af­ter dozens of aca­demics and hu­man rights ad­vo­cates-called for the Gov­ern­ment to treat the claims more se­ri­ously. Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern told re­porters last month she would re­spond if con­clu­sive ev­i­dence was ob­tained.

‘‘If I re­ceived a di­rect re­port that said there was an is­sue there that could be di­rectly at­trib­ut­able to China, or at China’s di­rec­tion, we would act on that. But I have not re­ceived such in­for­ma­tion,’’ she said.

The Na­tional and Labour par­ties have played down sug­ges­tions of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence by China, say­ing the coun­try’s dona­tion and elec­toral sys­tem are up to scratch and au­thor­i­ties are vig­i­lant.

A re­port by the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion, a con­ser­va­tive Amer­i­can think-tank, re­cently de­scribed New Zealand as par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to China’s in­flu­ence and crit­i­cised a lack of gov­ern­ment ac­tion when com­pared with Aus­tralia.

Anne-Marie Brady

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.