Chinese diaspora communities in NZ still subject to China

Chinese diaspora

Gaining attention are disturbing reports of Beijing seeking to control Chinese diaspora communities in New Zealand and elsewhere.

The New Zealand intelligence agency’s annual security threat report says a top concern is ethnic Chinese communities being targeted by people and entities linked to Beijing.

Elsewhere around the world, reports about China’s influence and information operations in Western countries note that there are covert Chinese police stations in major cities, harassment of places that host dissidents and media disinformation campaigns.

Reports confirmed to Radio Free Asia’s Asia Fact Check Lab show Beijing deploys cash, aggressive diplomats and boycotts to produce China-friendly press coverage and deter critical reporting.

Chinese diaspora communities in Western democracies are targeted.


Two ex-pat newspaper publishers found their thriving publications subject to blacklists and advertising boycotts.

Their papers were popular with New Zealand’s Chinese community.

Professor Anne-Marie Brady from Canterbury University has tracked how the Chinese Communist Party works with or buys local Chinese-language media outlets to exert its influence.

She found Auckland’s leading Chinese language paper, the Chinese Herald, has close personal links to the Chinese consulate. It “works with the All-China Federation of Overseas Chinese” Brady says.

“The paper…has been steadily ‘harmonised’ with Chinese media control agencies.”

She has identified party links to influential Mandarin media outlets in New Zealand.

Diverging views

Here and overseas, Xi’s authoritarianism, nationalistic foreign policy and the pandemic have soured public opinion toward China.

A 2021 Pew Research Center poll found 67 percent of New Zealanders hold negative views of China. Up to 80 percent believe in speaking against China’s human rights violations despite it being our biggest trading partner.

Yet 10 years ago the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre says we saw China as “a great opportunity”.

Taiwan’s Doublethink says over 60 percent of Chinese respondents in New Zealand expressed positive views of China.

Doublethink Lab has identified traits in people susceptible to the Chinese Communist Party’s information outreach.

These are: a low sense of belonging in New Zealand; participation in Chinese communities; systematic Mandarin learning; familiarity with Mandarin media in New Zealand; getting news from Chinese social media platforms.

“For older generations of Chinese immigrants, the rise of China has given them renewed confidence,” an ethnicity researcher says.

Restoring the glory

Most new Chinese immigrants rely on WeChat and Mandarin communities for their information, making them soft targets for Communist Party’s information warfare.

Xi has always targeted diaspora Chinese. He put the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office under the United Front Work Department, a body within the Chinese Communist Party.

He pushes information outreach. His notion of all Chinese “working together to restore the glory of China” resonates with some of New Zealand’s Chinese community.


Questions about human rights violations and Hong Kong’s destroyed democracy are answered with propaganda.

Ideas and slogans from the China Global Television Network are remembered and repeated.

“China has brought tens of millions of people out of poverty and they’ve never invaded any countries… unlike the British and European colonisers.

“They only have bad things to say about China.

“Present-day China wouldn’t be possible without the Communist Party!”


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News category: New Zealand.

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