Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Extreme Caution Is Required From Now On

The Curious Case of Anne-Marie Brady's Burglaries

The tea-leaves indicate that there is, indeed, something awry with Communist China's relationships with New Zealand.  A certain NZ Professor Dr Anne-Marie Brady has suffered an unusual level of attention from "burglars".  It is implied that this was not due to the slings and arrows of outrageous randomness.  Rather, Brady has researched and testified to what may be called suspicious attention by agents of the Chinese Communist apparatchik operating in New Zealand.
An investigation into the burglary of a professor whose work exposed China's influence in New Zealand has led detectives offshore with inquiries raising questions over a possible intelligence operation.  Five police staff have worked over the past seven months investigating the February burglary of the home of University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady, as well as other break-ins at her office on campus.

After months of silence this week police revealed progress had been made on the case, and Interpol - the international police co-operation agency - were also involved.  "This has been a complex case, but police do have positive lines of inquiry," the spokesperson said.  Police, while unwilling to comment further, said Brady had been kept "fully informed as the investigation progresses".

Brady told the Weekend Herald yesterday the long-running investigation had strengthened her belief - stated in testimony to an Australian parliamentary committee considering laws curbing foreign interference the day after the February 14 burglary of her home - that the break-ins were in direct response to her work.  [NZ Herald]
Several years ago, received wisdom believed that the Chinese Communist Government was sufficiently enlightened to the point to seeking normal relationships with the West.
  Since that time, however, the Chinese Government has fallen under the sway of Xi Jinping who has re-commenced a policy of repression against anyone in China who does not follow the party line.  In particular, he has singled out religious groups, including Christians and Muslims, committing atrocities against them.

In many ways Xi Jinping has painted himself as a Maoist reactionary and acted accordingly.
  The Brady case appears to be but one example of the change.  It appears to be a fairly minor incident against a New Zealand academic, but strongly indicative of the change in attitude and policies within the Chinese government towards critics, even offshore ones.

What is so significant about Professor Brady?
Brady, a well-regarded Mandarin-speaking expert on China's foreign policy and Polar politics, has seen her international profile skyrocket over the past year.  In September she published a widely-cited paper titled "Magic Weapons: China's political influence activities under Xi Jinping", resulting in invitations to speak in Australia, Canada, the UK, the US, Japan, Denmark and Germany.

That paper detailed what she claimed was a nexus of political donations, and appointments of prominent New Zealanders to boards, linked to a broad political influence campaign led by the government of China with the aim of shaping New Zealand policy.
Should NZ be worried by Chinese attempts to shape New Zealand policy?  On the face of it, not at all--provided the influence sought does not breach our laws.  But the attention given Professor Brady appears to be of another ilk entirely. Prima facie it reflects the authoritarian hand of a malicious government seeking to shut down a New Zealand "voice" with whom it disagrees.

The official NZ investigation, given that it has now involves Interpol, lends prima facie credence to China acting as a rogue state towards New Zealand.

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