Western intelligence is warning that Chinese influence in New Zealand is at a ‘critical’ level


New Zealand and China flag

Beijing’s growing influence in Asia is worrying neighbors and their partners around the world.
Western countries are acutely concerned about China’s links to New Zealand.
According to a report, China’s presence in New Zealand could compromise the Five Eyes partnership.

Countries around Asia and their partners are increasingly concerned about China’s growing influence, and members of the Five Eyes partnership — the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — are concerned about Beijing’s growing influence in New Zealand, according to a report published in May by Canada’s Security Intelligence Service.

The report, which is based on presentations at an academic conference but does not represent the security service’s formal views, says New Zealand faces “a concerted foreign interference campaign” from China, which wants to “access strategic information and resources” and build support for its objectives “by co-opting political and economic elites” in New Zealand.

These efforts have taken the form of business opportunities, investments, scholarships, and vanity projects to win over local business elites; attempts to bring local Chinese communities under Beijing’s sway and influence voting habits; and the use of acquisitions and partnerships with New Zealand companies and universities to establish a local presence, expand influence, and gain access to military technology, commercial secrets, and other valuable information.

Chinese Communist Party leadership regards New Zealand as “an exemplar” of the kind of relationship it wants with other countries, the report says, adding that China’s “political influence activities in New Zealand have now reached a critical level.”

Some of these efforts are direct threats to national security, according to the report, while others pose long-term risks to free society, including limiting the rights for the ethnic Chinese community, quashing public debate about China, and corrupting the political system.

Governments in New Zealand have courted China for some time, first to balance Soviet influence and secure aid, and later to diversify Wellington’s international relationships. New Zealand was the first Western country to sign on to China’s massive international-development project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

The previous government in Wellington also worked to avoid offending China and develop links with Chinese Community Party leaders — which, the report says, “fed and encouraged the success of China’s political influence activities in New Zealand.”

New Zealand itself is of particular interest to Beijing for several reasons, according to the report.

The government in Wellington is responsible for the defense and foreign affairs of three South Pacific territories, the …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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