UPDATE: Revelations of China spying on us just mean they’re doing a poorer job than America – what we should actually be worried about

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Families of John Key, Jacinda Ardern tracked by data company linked to Chinese military – report

New Zealand politicians and their family members have reportedly been tracked by a data company with links to the Chinese military.

A leak from the company, Zhenhua Data, reveals the classified Chinese database has profiles for former Prime Minister John Key’s son, as well as current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s parents and sister, according to leak entries seen by NZME.

“Our New Zealand politicians are being targeted on a grand scale,” Chinese politics expert Professor Anne-Marie Brady told the publication.

Paul Buchanan, a commentator in intelligence, told NZME the data company could be “looking for vulnerabilities”.

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According to the report, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters’ children have been tracked, as well as National MP Todd McClay’s mother. McClay was Trade Minister under the previous Key Government.

The listings include details such as town of residence, social media account details and job titles. Several of the listings are out of date, including a picture of Key’s son as an early teen and profiles on now irrelevant politicians’ partners, according to the NZ Herald. The last entries were in 2018. 

Prof Brady, from the University of Canterbury, has long been suspicious of Chinese interference in New Zealand. She’s previously warned MPs about what she’s described as a foreign interference agenda by Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring the Chinese diaspora in New Zealand “under control”.   

In a 2017 paper Magic Weapons, she warned of a “concerted foreign-influence campaign” by the Chinese Communist Party.

She suspected her paper criticising China led to her property being burgled in 2018. 

No one should be surprised that the Chinese are watching us and doing so through publicly available information.

The real mass surveillance that occurs in NZ is by the NZ Government and the NSA, so let’s not get into a tizzy fit screaming at China for a snooping that our own Government and America does far more insidiously.

The issue that is most concerning was the nature of the information and the purpose for that information.

China wanting to know how other countries work is one thing, using that information to blackmail or manipulate for their interest is completely another, and the personal details of people they were watching suggests they were looking for vulnerabilities.

Again, none of this should actually  be of any surprise and if we are going to get aggressive about it, we should start with our own Government and the NSA 5 Eyes arrangement.

It’s difficult to get worked up about this when America is doing it on a far larger scale and one genuinely has to ask if this is blood in the water to stir resentment against China as America inches closer to some type of military confrontation in the South China Sea.

Look, I have zero time for China, they are an authoritarian Communist regime that put minorities in gulags,  harvest body organs from dissidents and has total control over the media.

They aren’t our mates.

But America’s mass surveillance powers eclipse publicly available dossiers.

Let’s ask why we are being told this as opposed to it happening.

We don’t want to be controlled by Beijing OR Washington.

UPDATE: TVNZs excellent Pacific Correspondent, Barbara Dreaver, has delivered a very interesting exclusive regarding the Pacific names on China’s watch list. Many of those named inside the Pacific Islands don’t have any social media footprint. That means the information must have been gathered by spies inside the Islands themselves.  Again, this is all to be expected but it suggests a level of total surveillance dominance inside the Pacific Islands that risks our interaction with them. 

 

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28 COMMENTS

    • Martyn you said the best thing at the very last,”We don’t want to be controlled by Beijing OR Washington.”

      Correct, we must stop China from manipulating and controlling all our raw product prices, that is destroying NZ export prices/economy from China’s efforts attempting to control raw product prices by the use of cartels and unfair trading practices.

      China are already buying up all our raw products ‘at an alarming rate’ to stockpile them to hold a control future prices of all our raw products so they are involved in cartel activities now.

      History of Cartels.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartel

      China are guilty now of storing massive amounts of products to control the global price of everything now far more than any other country, and “after 1945, American-promoted market liberalism led to a worldwide cartel ban, where cartels continue to be obstructed in an increasing number of countries and circumstances.”.

      US has moved away from Cartels after the The creation of cartels increased globally after World War I.

      “Cartels became the leading form of market organization, particularly in Europe and Japan. In the 1930s, authoritarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco used cartels to organize their corporatist economies. Between the late 19th century and around 1945, the United States was ambivalent about cartels and trusts. There were periods of both opposition to market concentration and relative tolerance of cartels. During World War II, the United States strictly turned away from cartels.[8] After 1945, American-promoted market liberalism led to a worldwide cartel ban, where cartels continue to be obstructed in an increasing number of countries and circumstances.”

  1. Where would we be without China?

    Largely empty shelves at The Warehouse, Mitre 10, Bunnings etc. Largely empty shoe shops. Half-empty electronics stores.

    Where would we be without America?

    Much less junk food, no genetically engineered plants, fewer planet-fucking vehicles, no omnicidal weed killers, no destabilisation of socialist governments, no invasions of oil-rich nations.

    If in doubt about anything -elections, mysterious disappearances, lack of vaccines- blame Putin.

  2. Brenton Tarrant proves the failure of mass surveillance (now bitches, come at me). it proves that certain purchases can lower your score and the attitudes of your friends can lower the threshold you’d get caught in the net. The psychological component of mass surveillance which is people don’t like being watched and that drives down innovation. So New Zealand as a nation will not advance as quickly because of being afraid to try new things.

  3. China’s international surveillance programme appears to have some way to go when the best it can do is to discover that Max Key is a bit of a tit.

    • Agreed simonm! As for the alleged spying, this exposé looks more like the offerings of a kid’s Google search than the sophisticated data gathering of a dangerous state actor. That said, if it spins Prof. Brady’s wheels, and gives her yet another opportunity to cry ‘poor me’, there is little harm done.

      • aom – I think that the National Party may be running a schoolboy as a candidate in Palmerton North. The kid could be a double agent.

        Wasn’t it Jami-lee who recorded conversations with his own leader, Todd Barclay recording his office staff, Bill English sending a thousand midnight texts to Invercargill
        (Invercargill ! ), trouble shooter Glenda dispatched down south at some ungodly hour to shut everyone up, Michelle B leaking lists of the unsuspecting sick to a creep with a woman painted on a lavatory seat – kid could be busy keeping up with this lot, and expecting Chinese spies to keep with musical beds when their lawful wedded can’t, is a big ask in any language.

        They can’t and don’t even trust search other – small surprise how they stuffed up the country – but- but – it could be part of a master plot, made in China, and that pleasant looking gent from the Chinese military, the fall guy. The plot thickens – as do the brain cells of the cow party.

    • Perhaps Max “Real men ride women” Key is a bit of a tit, but he’s been previously suggested elsewhere as a politician in his father’s footsteps. Given his disrespect towards women, it looks as though Max shares his tacky father’s most distinguishing characteristic. The China spies may know a thing or two here – I wouldn’t just flag it away.

      • This is not a criticism of Max Key. All great inventors such as Fraude are to intellectual for me. The Freudian death drive that you use and then immediately misinterprets and mischaracterizes the role of the father and son.

        If you ask me you either abstain or vote for Jacinda and don’t fuck it up with your petty obsessions.

    • Apparently they have photos, addresses, pet names, wine receipts. They could have saved heaps on the surveillance apparatus and just used Wikipedia, the Woman’s Weekly or the phone book. In any case, Jacinda has nothing to worry about, if she is doing nothing wrong, she has nothing to hide…

      • That is not how you would treat an incompetent bunch of whacked-out NZ spy jobs to say oh but the prime minister should have nothing to hide. That is not the role of a spy agency as if they’re some sort of HR department.

        This has nothing to do with defending the rights and interests of New Zealand.

  4. For Gods sake they are targeting people’s kids for data surveillance and our government says meh???

    Disgusting.

    Even Aunty Helen told the Israelis off for stealing our passports. Under neoliberalism on steroids, it seems that exports are more important than human rights and security in NZ.

    Asia have a system of bribery and corruption called ‘white gloves’ which is coming to NZ hence need for Chinese data on suitable NZ people to corrupt, spy on.

    “The innocuous-sounding euphemism “white gloves” generally refers to a middleman or outfit that launders dirty or corrupt money under a seemingly legitimate front – dirty hands concealed by a pair of white gloves.
    The expression, coined by the Taiwanese, is catching up fast on the mainland as rampant corruption is exposed at all levels of the bureaucracy.
    Indeed, just as there are mistresses behind every corrupt senior official, there is also “a pair of white gloves” in the wings to help their families make their fortunes and manage them.”

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1306529/corruption-trials-expose-roles-white-gloves-who-manage-ill-gotten-gains

    Kiwi officials seem keen to profit from putting the systems in to NZ to encourage sexual and financial corruption in our bureaucracy and officials.

    Len Brown certainly seemed distracted by his mistress for Chinese benefits from NZ taxpayers. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1110/S00572/grey-power-warns-of-impact-of-high-immigration-rates.htm

    NZ Kids datagiven away to be used by Chinese and US data companies.
    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/10/new-zealand-school-data-collected-and-on-sold-to-google-microsoft.html

    Why do the dirty work, if you can ‘encourage’ Kiwi officials to create benefits for China with a bit of persuasion and intelligence on the ‘right’ people. (and their kids).

  5. Agreed.
    The Chinese Communist Party organisation has spies probably in every country of the world.
    My wife is Chinese and we have had a series of Chinese people live with us as boarders over the past few years.
    One of them told me in confidence that at least 50% of all Chinese that come here to work or study are doing some kind of work for the CCP.
    I asked him if he was one of them and he avoided the question.
    When you take the students and IT experts and exclude the others the figure jumps to about 90%.
    They are covertly sponsored by the Chinese government and in return they have to provide certain “information”.
    But most of them don’t actually think of it as spying. The government is paying them to do a bit of work on the side for them while they earn their degrees or make good money in New Zealand.
    It takes no great imagination to figure that this “work” may include reporting back on any political figures that may be useful or threatening to the CCP.
    So how do you stop it?
    You Can’t, unless you decide to stop all Chinese coming here and kick out all who are already here, and that is both unethical and impractical.
    The National Party should front up and declare how it is being bankrolled by the CCP, but of course both sides are in denial of that.

  6. All part of the US effort to demonize China. It would be interesting to look into a certain academic’s affairs and see if there have been any inducements given. Why all the concern about China gathering information. The NSA has collected every text message ever written. Now one of their bigwigs is working for Amazon. Maybe the intelligence agencies now know everyone who ordered one of the child sex dolls Amazon was selling and can target them for blackmail. Sadly that is only partly said in jest. Ironically the dolls are probably made in China.
    https://futurezone.at/english/child-sex-dolls-on-amazon-cause-uproar/400759767
    The American media may not be state owned but 6 corporations control it and as America is a corporatocracy, where large corporations control the government, the result is the same.
    We need to be independent of both China and America but the aggressive attitude of the USA in the South CHINA Sea is a cause for concern as we could be dragged into a conflict as we were in Viet Nam and Iraq.

    • The difference is that people can openly talk against Trump in America publicly, not the case in China or internationally against Xi Jinping….. US citizens can vote Trump out, not the case with Xi Jinping…

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