Timeline: PRC influence coverage

Last updated: 30 January 2019

China’s influence on Australia and New Zealand politics emerged in 2017 as one of the most contentious foreign affairs issues in both countries. Debate has continued in 2018 and 2019. 

The Asia Media Centre has collated major reports, articles and blogs on the topic, highlighting how the issue has been covered so far.

This page will be updated from time to time but is not exhaustive; it aims to give a snapshot of coverage and of key voices involved. 

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Debate in New Zealand

In New Zealand, two events brought the issue of China’s international influence into the media spotlight: allegations over the background of National Party MP Yang Jian; and the release of a report by University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady, Magic Weapons: China’s political influence activities under Xi Jinping, highlighting Chinese Communist Party “united front” activities.

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  • 2019

    • Jan 12: Anne-Marie Brady's series of unfortunate events (NZ Herald)

    • Jan 14: Chinese version of NZ Herald edited translated stories to be more China-friendly (

    • Jan 24: National floats ban on foreign donations (NZ Herald)

  • 2018

    • Mar 7: Rodney Jones: Something big just changed in China (Newsroom
    • Mar 10: Winston Peters talks aid, China and New Zealand’s global citizenship (Newsroom
    • Mar 18: Q+A: Beijing-based Economist Rodney Jones (TVNZ)
    • Mar 18: Political rifts in the Chinese community as politicians battle over defamation (Stuff)
    • May 30: NZ’s foreign bureaucrats ‘need to see China as a challenge’ (Radio New Zealand)
    • May 30: New Zealand ’soft underbelly’ for China infiltration of intelligence network – Canadian report (Stuff)
    • Jun 8: China interference claims ‘need new evidence (Newsroom)
    • Jun 13: NZ-China relationship more complicated than ‘sensational’ headlines (Stuff)
    • Jul 1: Australia changes espionage laws amid Chinese influence concerns – should New Zealand follow suit? (1 News)
    • Jul 6: NZ faces threats from China, Russia 'in ways not previously seen', Defence warns (Newshub)

    • Sept 15: The curious case of the burgled professor (New Zealand Herald
    • Oct 3: US Ambassador warns New Zealand not to trust China (Newshub)
    • Oct 4: China isn’t the real threat to liberal democracy – ‘we are’, say academics (Asia Pacific Report)
    • Oct 6: Crunch point on China interference: Anne-Marie Brady’s warning to Ardern (The Spinoff)
    • Oct 13: China’s multi-million dollar funding for New Zealand universities compromises academic freedom, critics say (Stuff)
    • Oct 18: Bernard Hickey: Follow the money and the influence (Newsroom)
    • Oct 18: Chinese businessman Yikun Zhang ‘disappointed’ in being named in Jami-Lee Ross scandal (Stuff
    • Oct 19: China hits back at interference allegations (Newsroom)
    • Oct 19: Tze Ming Mok: Here is the big deal about Bridges’ 'Chinese' donations (NZ Herald)
    • Oct 20: Alleged National donor Yikun Zhang bringing 1000 well-connected compatriots to New Zealand (Stuff)
    • October: ‘Patriotic overseas Chinese leader Zhang Yikun enjoys New Zealand national honour’ (Beijing Spring; in Chinese)
    • Oct 31: “On the background of Zhang Yikun” – including a translation of above Beijing Spring article (Croaking Cassandra)
    • Oct 31: Paul Buchanan on Chinese influence on NZ, US mid-terms next week (Radio Live)

    • Nov 4: Are we letting China breach New Zealand's sovereignty? (Radio New Zealand)

    • Nov 8: Anne-Marie Brady: China 2.0 and the challenge it poses to New Zealand (Noted)

    • Nov 11: ‘Serious storm clouds’ threaten NZ democracy – report (Newsroom)

    • Nov 16: Professor who uncovered extent of Chinese political influence in NZ says her car was 'interfered with' (TVNZ)

    • Nov 21: Report says China researcher Anne-Marie Brady's car 'tampered with' (NZ Herald)

    • Nov 26: Burgled professor case: PM called on to defend academic freedom (NZ Herald)

    • Nov 26: 'We need to draw a line on Chinese intimidation' - Tze Ming Mok (Radio New Zealand)

    • Nov 27: Worldwide calls for Govt to speak up on China (Newsroom)

    • Nov 27: Suspicions of Chinese influence due to racism – Winston Peters (Radio Live)

    • Nov 28: Fran O'Sullivan: Academic Anne-Marie Brady draws long bow on China (NZ Herald)

    • Nov 29: Huawei for dummies: China's tech company and why it's been banned by our spies (Stuff)

    • Nov 30: Spies, sabotage and political donations: why China is dominating the news (The Spinoff)

    • Dec 3: New Zealand 'particularly vulnerable' to China: US think tank report (NZ Herald)

    • Dec 4: Government has its 'eyes wide open' on China: Winston Peters (Radio New Zealand)

    • Dec 6: International China-watchers express alarm over Brady affair (NZ Herald)

    • Dec 8: Time for NZ to strengthen India ties (Indian Weekender)

    • Dec 10: China-funded centres spark freedom concerns (Newsroom)

    • Dec 12: Sir Don McKinnon: Huawei ban shows limits of China's influence (NZ Herald)

    • Dec 12: China looms large ahead of Peters’ US trip (Newsroom)

    • Dec 24: Warning to China over cyber activity (Otago Daily Times)

  • 2017

    •  Jul 17: Simon Draper: Australia’s Asia debate worryingly polarising (Stuff
    • Sep 13: National MP: I taught Chinese spies (Newsroom
    • Sep 13: China-born New Zealand MP probed by spy agency (Financial Times; paywall)
    • Sep 13: National: no idea of SIS inquiry into Jian Yang (Newsroom)
    • Sep 14: China’s soft power push (Newsroom)
    • Sep 14: Winston Peters brings dog whistle to Dunedin, calls for inquiry into Jian Yang’s spy links (Stuff)
    • Sep 18: Anne-Marie Brady: Magic Weapons: China’s political influence activities under Xi Jinping (Wilson Centre; PDF)
    • Sep 19: A near-complete cone of silence (Michael Reddell: Croaking Cassandra)
    • Sep 20: Revealed: China’s network of influence in New Zealand (NZ Herald)
    • Sep 20: The political cone of silence, with slurs (Croaking Cassandra)
    • Sep 21: New Zealand: United Frontlings always win (Jichang lulu
    • Sep 23: Charles Finny: Time for NZ political parties to take the migrant vote seriously (Asia Media Centre)
    • Sep 28: Winston Peters won’t let Jian Yang ‘allegations’ slide (Newsroom)
    • Oct 19: OIA documents confirm National MP Jian Yang did not disclose military intelligence links (NZ Herald)
    • Oct 31: Jian Yang’s past ‘a matter for him’ – Bill English (Radio NZ)
    • Nov 14: Anne-Marie Brady: Looking for Points in Common While Facing Up to Differences – A New Model for New Zealand-China Relations (; PDF) 
    • Dec 4: China’s Political Influence Activities: A Conversation with Anne-Marie Brady (ChinaPower)
    • Dec 5: New Zealand mayors talk up China ties (Newsroom
    • Dec 5: Remember Janis Joplin before judging China too harshly, says Winston Peters (NZ Herald
    • Dec 6: Geremie R Barmé: Reaching Forty-five (China Heritage
    • Dec 6: Morning Report: Surprise that NZ hasn’t acted earlier on foreign influence (Radio NZ)
    • Dec 7: PM Jacinda Ardern discounts Chinese influence (NZ Herald
    • Dec 7: Sir Don McKinnon: Expanding relationship with China in New Zealand’s interests (NZ Herald)
    • Dec 10: Mediawatch: Does China hold sway over media here? (Radio NZ)
    • Dec 12: Political Roundup by Bryce Edwards: China’s ‘magic weapons’ in NZ (NZ Herald)
    • Dec 13: GCSB and SIS table China’s influence at Five Eyes meeting (NZ Herald
    • Dec 14: Pattrick Smellie: Nations question terms of their friendship with China (Stuff)
    • Dec 19: Simon Chapple: China is seeking an insidious influence in New Zealand (NZ Herald
    • Dec 19: Bonnie Glaser: Countries need to be clear-eyed about China (Asia Media Centre
    • Dec 20: MP Yang lobbied ministers to overturn Security Intelligence Service block (NZ Herald)  

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International views

In 2017,  international media primarily focused on Australia, but the Yang Jian story and report by University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady called attention to New Zealand. 

  • 2019

    • Jan 23: 'I'm being watched': Anne-Marie Brady, the China critic living in fear of Beijing (The Guardian)
    • Jan 29: No longer safe: Researcher harassed by China in her own country (Canberra Times)
  • 2018

    • Jan 4: A look at China’s pervasive attempts to exert its influence around the world (LA Times)
    • Mar 18: The Honourable Kevin Rudd: Understanding China’s Rise Under Xi Jinping (Sinocism)
    • Oct 2: Australia and New Zealand are Ground Zero for Chinese Influence (NPR)
    • Oct 25: Campaign Contribution Raises Concerns about China’s Meddling in New Zealand (New York Times)
    • Nov 16: Police investigate after prominent China critic's car 'sabotaged' in New Zealand (The Telegraph)

    • Dec 6: Campaign calling for New Zealand to protect China expert gathers pace (The Guardian)

    • Dec 7: China Scholars Demand Protection For Threatened New Zealand Academic (NPR)

    • Dec 7: China Watchers Demand Action on Harassment of New Zealand Professor (New York Times)

    • Dec 10: New Zealand grapples with China’s influence and intimidation (Japan Times)

  • 2017

    • Jun 5: Four Corners – Power and Influence (ABC News
    • Jun 9: Bates Gill and Linda Jakobson: China Matters: Getting it right for Australia (China Policy Institute)
    • Sep 20: Chinese influence and intelligence activities: A few notes (The Scholar’s Stage)
    • Sep 23: Spies and a magic weapon: Why are Australia, NZ so suspicious of China? (South China Morning Post)
    • Oct 4: A New Zealand lawmaker’s spy-linked past raises alarms on China’s reach (New York Times
    • October: The Giant Awakens: A collection of insights into Chinese government influence in Australia (Vision Times)
    • Nov 28: Clive Hamilton: The real reason you won’t be reading my new book on China anytime soon (Sydney Morning Herald)
    • Nov 29: Sam Dastyari quits Federal Parliament (ABC News
    • Nov 30: Bill Shorten dumps Sam Dastyari from Senate job (ABC News
    • Dec 13: Australia, New Zealand face China’s influence (
    • Dec 13: The Long Arm of China: Exporting authoritarianism with Chinese characteristics (CECC.govYouTube)
    • Dec 14: Analysis: China’s ‘long arm’ of influence stretches ever further (Washington Post)
    • Dec 15: Saying the unsayable in Australia’s relations with China (The Interpreter)

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Early Reactions from China

News and commentary from English-language press in China was highly critical of the early coverage of the issue in Australasia. Media outlets covered official denials of influence claims, while some commentators called the influence claims fake and likened them to McCarthyism.

  • 2017

    • Nov 29: Opinion: Media has pivotal role in China-Australia ties (Global Times)
    • Nov 30: Opinion: Is a new kind of McCarthyism emerging in Australia? (Global Times)
    • Dec 7: Chinese Embassy says fake news from Aussie media harm mutual trust (People’s Daily Online)
    • Dec 8: Commentary: It’s time for Australia to decide what kind of relationship it wants with China (Xinhua)
    • Dec 12: Opinion: Australia must be realistic in dealing with China (People’s Daily Online)
    • Dec 12: Opinion: West suspicion of China infiltration absurd (Global Times)
    • Dec 14: Summoning of Aussie ambassador serves as warning to anti-China trend: experts (Global Times)
    • Dec 30: Opinion: Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the sharpest of them all? (Global Times)

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– Asia Media Centre