Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Campaign calls for New Zealand to protect China expert

The Guardian, DUNEDIN, New Zealand

More than 150 global China experts have added their voices to demands that the New Zealand government protect Anne-Marie Brady, a China academic who says she has been the victim of a year-long harassment campaign.

Brady, an expert in Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zeland, had her home and office burgled in February, and her car was allegedly sabotaged last month.

Brady says she became a target after the release last year of a paper on Chinese foreign influence, and has asked the New Zealand government for extra security for herself and her family.

After the government failed to respond, academics, human rights advocates and journalists within New Zealand last week called on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to step in and provide security for Brady.

Now 150 China experts from around the world have signed an open letter calling for action.

The letter states that under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) rule domestic repression in China has increased, “as illustrated by the fate of hundreds of human rights lawyers and activists rounded up in 2015,” as well as the “re-education” camps in Xinjiang.

At the same time, the Chinese government has targeted critics overseas, the letter says.

“Another form of this escalation are the unprecedented attacks on foreign scholars and researchers of contemporary China, be it in the form of Cultural Revolution-style in-class harassment for their views and opinions, denial of visas, threatened or actual libel suits or, in some cases, detentions during research visits in mainland China,” it says.

“Brady has become the target of a series of incidents, which, taken together with attacks from [Chinese Communist] Party-directed media, are consistent with an intimidation campaign,” it says. “New Zealand authorities have been less than forthcoming in their support for a prominent scholar targeted by a foreign power, at times even adopting a dismissive posture — an attitude appreciated by PRC [People’s Republic of China] state media.”

The 165 signatories include global China experts from 17 nations, including US author, journalist and social commentator Bill Bishop, Danielle Cave from the International Cyber Policy Centre and Swedish human rights advocate Peter Dahlin.

A spokeswoman for the New Zealand prime minister said Ardern “supports and defends the legal right to academic freedom,” but it was not appropriate to comment further before the police investigation had been completed.

Last week Brady told the Guardian that she and her family had requested security assistance from the government, but it was not forthcoming.

“I am really concerned about the safety of my family. About four months ago we asked for more protection from the New Zealand security intelligence service. We haven’t had a reply,” Brady said. “We are doing everything we can to improve security in our home, but New Zealand is a very open society. We’re just doing the best that we can by ourselves, but we’re not security specialists.”

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