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New Zealand Accuses China, Russia, and Iran of Attempting Foreign Interference

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New Zealand’s Security Intelligence Service said China is the main exponent of foreign interference in the South Pacific nation.

Publishing its analysis of New Zealand’s security threat environment for the first time Friday in Wellington, the NZSIS said there are a small number of states who attempt foreign interference but their ability to cause harm is significant. 

Most notable is the continued targeting of ethnic Chinese communities in New Zealand by groups and individuals linked to the People’s Republic of China, it said in the report.

“NZSIS is aware of ongoing activity in and against New Zealand and our home region that is linked to the PRC’s intelligence services,” it said. “This is a complex intelligence concern for New Zealand.”

Read More: U.S. Charges Chinese Operatives With ‘Transnational Repression’: What to Know

New Zealand is wary of offending China, its largest trading partner, but it is also concerned about Beijing’s ambitions in the Pacific. The government last week announced that it will invest in the defense force and protect its interests in the Pacific as China seeks more influence in region.

The NZSIS said New Zealand’s geographic position in the Indo-Pacific and its links with other Pacific countries “will draw the attention of foreign intelligence services who want to inform foreign governments on New Zealand’s government policy and strategy in the region.”

The NZSIS said only a few states undertake espionage or interference activities against New Zealand, but “some do so persistently and with the potential to cause significant harm to our governance structures, democracy, and social cohesion.”

“In particular, states that engage in foreign interference are usually autocratic, repressive, or highly nationalistic,” it said.

The agency also named Iran and Russia as states conducting foreign interference.

It said Iran was undertaking “societal interference,” including monitoring and providing reporting on Iranian communities and dissident groups.

It was less specific about Russia, but noted Moscow’s “international disinformation campaigns” have “had an impact on the views of some New Zealanders.”

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