Jacinda Ardern denies claims that China is behind NZ professor’s intimidation

Jacinda Ardern denies claims that China is behind NZ professor’s intimidation

Agency News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has denied the claims Australian intelligence agencies which identified China's spy service as the prime suspect behind the intimidation of University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady.

The Australian government confirmed to an Australian current affairs show last night that China was behind the academic's harassment since late 2017.

But New Zealand's own year-long investigation into the situation remains "unresolved", the Prime Minister told TVNZ1's Breakfast today. "There is nothing that I have seen to support those claims [made on the Four Corners show last night], and I make that point really firmly," she said.

"I made a statement that if I had any evidence to suggest that there was direct foreign targeting of Anne-Marie Brady, that I would look to respond to that. As has already been made public, the police have not found a particular individual or organisation responsible for the break-ins reported by Anne-Marie Brady."

Ms Brady has said her office has been broken into twice, her house burgled, her car tampered with and she received a threatening letterafter she published a paper on the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the Pacific.

The focus of the investigative journalism on the show last night was primarily on Australia, with a conclusion made at the end to reference New Zealand, Ms Ardern said.

New Zealand needs to focus on foreign interference generally to make sure "we don't miss a beat when it comes to protecting ourselves", the PM added. That includes making sure New Zealand had rigorous laws around foreign donations, she said.

She disagreed with assertions by security expert and fellow Breakfast guest Paul Buchanan earlier today that China is "taking advantage of our very loose political finance laws".