New Zealand will suffer from GCSB spying on China


China has become New Zealand’s biggest trading partner. Surely it is not in our interests to continue to spy on China’s communications, as the Government Communications Security Bureau does through the Waihopai satellite communications interception station.

National and Labour politicians are living in a dream world if they think that there won’t eventually be a kickback from Beijing.

A Boundless Information map (released by whistleblower Edward Snowden) shows that Chinese communications are heavily targeted by the US National Security Agency. The amount of the data gathered worldwide by the NSA is just one month (March 2013) was a staggering 97 billion pieces, according to Boundless Information documentation.

It’s unclear how much of that information might have come from the NSA’s partners in the Five Eyes network (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) but it is likely that data from Waihopai is included.

Waihopai was constructed to provide international telephone call data for the Five Eyes network – with the NSA presumably the main beneficiary. Waihopai’s two dishes draw down all the information from calls passing through two satellites – usually communications satellites geo-stationary over the Pacific equator.

Waihopai was built well before the “war on terror” for a traditional espionage purpose, to spy on the communications of Asia/Pacific governments. Today much of what the NSA extracts from the Waihopai data would relate to Chinese government communications.

China is not too happy with such surveillance of its communications. When Edward Snowden disclosed that the NSA had been hacking into Hong Kong computers there were complaints from Hong Kong parties, demonstrations in the streets, and negative commentary across the border in China.

Interestingly, one of the best articles I have read on the privacy issues flowing from the Snowden bombshell was written by China’s most vocal free speech advocate, Ai Weiwei. From his prison experiences he knows how surveillance information can be used to control people: “to tell you: we know exactly what you’re thinking or doing. It can drive people to madness…

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“When human beings are scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor ourselves from free thinking. That’s dangerous for human development.”

Ai Weiwei concluded: “We must not hand over our rights to other people. No state power should be given that sort of trust. Not China. Not the US.”


  1. Totally right. For 20 or more years New Zealand had been currying favour with China and Asia in general. Back in the early 1990s our leading politicians were saying New Zealand is now part of the Asia/Pacific which at the time was quite a radical departure from our United States/European perspective of the previous 150 years. Economically, this statement has become fact but this government is now totally focused on currying favour with the United States as if it can take China for granted. The Chinese are far from stupid and will have the full measure of the present situation. They tend to take a longer view of things and won’t rock the boat unnecessarily but when they have had enough they will let New Zealand known. The only question is whether our government is intelligent enough to read the signs.

  2. Naive and retarded. Instead of pressuring NZ intelligence services to reveal the extent of their domestic surveillance, KLocke prefers to deflect attention, as most Kiwis are socialised to do, to demonise the US. And for what reasons? That the Chinese might become suspicious that we New Zealanders. too, are carrying out surveillance against them? Oh, the horror!

    The attempt to misdirect the discourse away from the real issues of domestic surveillance and control – to focus on the Americans – in order to placate the Chinese, is a preemptive subservient gesture – as if they don’t conduct widespread intelligence collection against New Zealand, Australia, the US, and most certainly, their own people. China, that bastion of civil liberty and democratic enlightenment, that same nation that heavily censors the Internet, conducts widespread economic espionage against western countries and corporations, engages in ethnic cleansing in occupied lands, and that crushes its own people with tanks in its streets?

    • The more the gcsb spies on others the more they spy on us the chinese aren’t stupid they could wipe us out with a push of a finger there a damn super power of the world the gcsb should be shut down

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