Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A New Zealand Political Dissident.

Dangerous Mind: International interest in Professor Anne-Marie Brady’s research into the growing reach of Chinese "soft power" was sharpened recently by her disclosure of the presence of former Chinese nationals in the caucuses of New Zealand’s two largest political parties; most particularly, the fact that one of those Members of Parliament has historical links with the Chinese intelligence community (if only in a pedagogical capacity).

THAT PROFESSOR ANNE-MARIE BRADY has had her home and office broken into, and her lap-top stolen, is deeply troubling. That the perpetrators were brazen enough to warn her that their attack was imminent, only heightens that concern. The most compelling reason for feeling uneasy about Professor Brady’s misfortunes, however, is their obvious potential to seriously damage Chinese-New Zealand relations.

Professor Brady is a China specialist who has won international acclaim for her research into the methods used by the Chinese government to monitor and, where possible, influence the conduct and opinions of Chinese nationals living abroad; as well as for describing the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) efforts to build maximum support for the “Motherland” among the world-wide Chinese diaspora.

What has sharpened international interest in Professor Brady’s work is her disclosure of the presence of former Chinese nationals in the caucuses of New Zealand’s two largest political parties; most particularly, the fact that one of those Members of Parliament has historical links with the Chinese intelligence community (if only in a pedagogical capacity).

Taken together with her itemisation of the appointments of former political leaders of New Zealand to the boards of a number of Chinese financial institutions, the Professor’s revelations were more than sufficient to secure coverage in major media outlets in Australia, the UK and the United States.

The most recent reference to Professor Brady’s research is to be found in the influential US magazine, “Foreign Policy”. Concerned about the links between the Chinese Embassy in Washington and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association operating on the campus of Georgetown University, foreign-policy specialist, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, quotes Professor Brady on the information-gathering role of these Chinese Government-supported student groups:

“It’s a deliberate strategy to make sure that the Chinese students and scholars living abroad don’t become a problem.”

That the political and cultural views of young Chinese citizens studying abroad could become a problem for the Chinese Government is readily appreciated. As Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian points out, there are 330,000 Chinese nationals studying in the United States, alone, with scores-of-thousands more at other universities around the world. That’s an awful lot of highly-educated, highly-skilled young people to come home with “problematic” ideas!

This is much more than a theoretical proposition. As an at-least-nominally revolutionary party, the CPC will be well aware of the “Russians in Paris” syndrome.

Following the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815, the armies of the victorious powers – which included the Russian Empire – occupied Paris. Young Russian officers suddenly found themselves in the midst of a free-wheeling culture which prized intellectual and artistic pursuits of all kinds – not least the passionate discussion of political philosophy.

Unsurprisingly, these Imperial Guardsmen returned home to St Petersburg with more than a taste for French cuisine and Parisian coffee. Travelling with them were the core principles of the French Revolution: “Liberty. Equality. Fraternity.” Within ten years, some of them (known as “Decemberists”, after the month in which they rose against the Tsar) were attempting to spark a democratic revolution in Russia.

The last thing the Chinese authorities want is a “Decemberist” revolt of their own. A revolt fuelled by ideas and ideals imported into China from the United States of America in the heads of their best and brightest university graduates. Those among the CPC leadership who had to deal with the consequences of the tragic events of June 1989 will not have forgotten that the symbol of that earlier student revolt was a papier-mâché replica of the Statue of Liberty.

The studied indifference towards Professor Brady’s research (not to mention her personal security) displayed by the New Zealand authorities, speaks to the existence of considerable sympathy within New Zealand’s own ruling circles for the stern measures which the Chinese authorities feel obliged to undertake.

Peoples’ uprisings may be a recurring feature of Chinese history, but they are generally remembered as short-lived periods of chaos and confusion, preparatory to the restoration of order and tranquillity by a centralised, authoritarian government, in whose strong hands the gods have reposed the all-important “Mandate of Heaven”.

It is, clearly, the view of the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Trade, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and Treasury, that an orderly and tranquil China is much to be preferred to a democratic and turbulent China. As a crucial market for its primary production, and an equally important source of foreign direct investment in its industry and infrastructure, China is obviously regarded by the New Zealand Government as an economic partner much too big to rile.

Equally obvious, is Professor Brady’s status as a New Zealand political dissident. Innocent of any crime, but guilty of that most heinous offence – upsetting the apple cart. If she is waiting for the New Zealand authorities to help her, then she will likely be waiting a very long time.

UPDATE: On Monday (19/2/18) came the welcome news that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked the Security Intelligence Service to investigate the break-ins to Professor Brady's home and office and the theft of her lap-top computer. Welcome, too, the news that the PM's intervention has breathed new life into the hitherto stalled Police investigation. It is, however, noteworthy that the PM has yet to use the word "China" in relation to Professor Brady's case.

This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 20 February 2018.


peteswriteplace said...

Any non-resident guilty of such acts should be deported.

JanM said...

The PM has got more sense than to mention 'China' in her discourse
1. Look what happened when it entered the conversation about foreign ownership of housing - the RW managed to divert the whole conversation by screaming about racism.
2. If this is going to have a legitimate legal framework she would be doing a very unprofessional thing to pre-empt or point fingers. It has the potential to turn it all into a political circus, for one thing (see 1)

Kat said...

"It is, however, noteworthy that the PM has yet to use the word "China" in relation to Professor Brady's case"

Very astute of the PM, the Chinese will be impressed and be aware they are up against someone "formidable".

David Stone said...

How sure would you be that the intelligence services didn't perform the break-in ?
Do you think they would discuss it with a barefoot and pregnant girl?
I don't . I'm sure they feel themselves far too responsible and serious.

David George said...

This issue came to light prior to the recent general election. At a Wellington 'meet the candidates' event Chris Finlayson (National cabinet minister) was asked about Chinese influence (and issues surrounding the communist party member and National MP Jian Yang) by Michael Reddell.
He refused to consider the question and dismissed the whole thing as a racist beat-up. Professor Brady is married to a Chinese man so that doesn't have any credibility. Finlayson is wet enough to genuinely believe something like that but it does sound very much like an attempted cover up within National.
Link to reddells original post:

jh said...

It’s a deliberate strategy to make sure that the Chinese students and scholars living abroad don’t become a problem.”
I don't think that will be a problem and I don't think you are on the mark at all.
On A Slice of Heaven (Immigration ), Noelle McCarthy marvels at the fact that (according to Mark Sainsbury) if the Chinese are buying (such and such) the board will be full all afternoon. The moral being it doesn't matter who. The people are wiser than that: people have a coalition instinct and a great investment in their ethnicity.

jh said...

Cracks me up how people get so riled up about immigrants. Especially them chinese.

Dime loves em – i like their food, i like their reasonably priced blow jobs, i like that they only seem to commit crimes against each other, i like that they have made me a fortune in property, i like that they built me a kick ass house.
And likewise the Good Old Boys

greywarbler said...

OOh-er that couldn't happen in little 'ole NZ could it?

It is a crime and the crime-flies are always drawn to the swoony-smelling money pile. Get between the driven and the path to the money, put up a sign reminding that care is needed, and you will be unpopular. Direct action may be taken. Remember thoughtful NZrs having a burglary, a seizure of information; Aziz, Nicky Hager. It suits everyone to regard this as funny, bungling by the nitwit spies in the country, just laugh it off.

From Google
The GC(SB): A touching story of everyday spies - NZ Herald › New Zealand
May 20, 2015 - Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. ... If history is any guide, perhaps a Days of Our Lives soap would be a more achievable goal. Starting, perhaps ... Another own-goal was the bungled break-in at Christchurch free trade activist Aziz Choudry's home in July 1996.

Geoff Fischer said...

Professor Brady's work is funded by NATO, she has close links to the New Zealand SIS and her published comments are intended to incite suspicion of the PRC and the New Zealand Chinese community. So while she may have been the victim of a burglary, she hardly belongs in the category of "persecuted political dissident". It is to be hoped that the police investigation into the break-in has a definitive outcome. One cannot expect anything from the SIS which is already deeply embroiled in the case and has been using Professor Brady as the front person for its anti-Chinese campaign.

Nick J said...

That the NZ ruling caste of politicians, business and public service leadership make no noise indicates loudly and clearly complicity by ommision. I'm not surprised, the same caste happily ignore "rendition", the U.S. practice of illegal kidnap and torture.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Professor Brady's work is funded by NATO, she has close links to the New Zealand SIS and her published comments are intended to incite suspicion of the PRC and the New Zealand Chinese community. "
Citation? Or is it just "they say"?

Victor said...

An excellent piece, Chris.

China deserves to be taken very seriously.

And that's primarily intended as a statement about geo-politics and inter-state relations rather than immigration.

Knee-jerk anti-western sentiments and conspiracy theories, which might be justified in other circumstances, aren't much help in this situation.

I used to worry about us becoming "Finlandised" (i.e. having the same limits placed on our independence that the Soviet Union placed on its little capitalist, democratic friend, Finland). But Albania!?!?

Geoff Fischer said...

Professor Brady's primary employer, the University of Canterbury, has confirmed that her work is funded by NATO. Brady herself does not dispute that is a fact. Nor does she deny the self-evident fact that her public comments are designed to incite public suspicion of the PRC. To see the links between Professor Brady and the SIS and how the anti-China campaign is intended to impact on the New Zealand Chinese community you need to go to sources like the Financial Times of London, which has published material (e.g. the notorious "Security Chiefs" memo to Jacinda Ardern) which for whatever reason has not been aired in the New Zealand press. You can also find some background to the story in the item "What is the SIS up to now? or Jian Yang, the New Zealand Dreyfus" at
Brady is no anti-establishment "political dissident". She has connections to the SIS and to CIA funded think tanks in the US, and she is front person for the current anti-China campaign in Australia and New Zealand which was heralded in the "Security Chiefs" memo and which is a key part of President Trump's global strategy to "Make America great again".
Many New Zealanders do not want China to follow Britain and the United States as the power which includes New Zealand within its sphere of influence, but those who think that they can remain in a politically subordinate position to Australia, Britain or the United States while being economically dependent upon the PRC are flying in the face of geo-political, economic and demographic realities. New Zealanders cannot afford to get caught up in a power contest between the US and China and they don't need to, yet the left fondly imagines that this is a war they can win. While in alliance with the United States they lost the Vietnam war, they lost the Afghan war and they will lose a (hot or cold) war with China.
The sensible way out is to become constitutionally independent of Britain, politically and militarily independent of Australia and the United States, and economically independent of any single foreign market, including the Chinese market. Anything less may have catastrophic consequences.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Geoff Fischer.

Please send me a "Not For Publication" comment, Geoff, providing me with some means of contacting you privately.

A phone number or e-mail address (or both!) would be very helpful.

I would like to get my hands on the Financial Times article you mention - as well as the SIS report.

Many thanks,

Chris Trotter.