(Natural News) Three lecturers at different universities in New Zealand claimed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been planting spies in their institutions. The three said that Chinese individuals have shown up to their lectures and conducted “information-gathering” activities. They even shared instances of Chinese outsiders disrupting lectures and confronting them because of the topics they discussed.
University of Auckland International Relations and Politics Senior Lecturer Stephen Noakes shared incidents of non-enrollees showing up to his classes and appearing to be “gathering intelligence.” On one occasion, an individual Noakes had never seen before took pictures of the lecture theater while he was speaking.
“It made me incredibly uncomfortable and I followed it up afterward. I’ve not seen that person again,” Noakes said.
Victoria University of Wellington Professor Catherine Churchman also shared an instance that happened back in 2017. A man who claimed to be a “visiting scholar” came to her class and “upbraided her about her lecture content.” She then told the man that he was not supposed to be there and he needed to leave. Churchman later saw the individual descending from a bus near the Chinese embassy in Wellington.
“Maybe this was just completely coincidental. Maybe he lived there, I don’t know. But the fact that he was quite determined to try and engage me to find out things; that he came into my class without asking permission and tried to correct me with the … ‘official position’ on Chinese history and their relationship with non-Chinese people – I found that rather suspicious,” Churchman said.
Meanwhile, University of Canterbury Lecturer Anne-Marie Brady said she frequently had individuals come to her classes despite not being enrolled. She told these people that they could not be there if they had not enrolled in the class and paid the fees. While some came to observe, others were disruptive. Brady shared that in 2019, a woman had to be forced out of her class because she became both “disruptive” and “somewhat intimidating.”
Spying appears to be part of a “new breed” of nationalism
Interestingly, the three professors had China-related subjects as their topics of expertise. Noakes formerly held posts at both Chinese and Taiwanese universities. Meanwhile, Churchman taught ancient Chinese history and Brady specialized in Chinese domestic and foreign policy.
Noakes attributed the proliferation of individuals disrupting lectures on Chinese politics to a “new breed of Chinese nationalism” driven by the CCP. (Related: Oxford University sells out to communist China for less than a million dollars.)
“There is a renewed focus in China on national pride. It’s an explicit pillar of Xi Jinping’s leadership and that emphasis … trickles down from the state and [CCP] leadership to those who come up through Chinese education systems, and then, they arrive on our doorstep one day,” he explained.
“What we now often find is that students enrolled in our courses from mainland China are far more nationalistic than was the case when I started teaching at universities 12 to 15 years ago.”
Noakes cited one example of this attitude. Some Chinese students would claim that the media coverage of the Tiananmen Square incident of June 1989 was a “fabrication by the West to make China look bad.” Noakes said that he hears this claim a few times during each semester.
The Chinese Embassy in New Zealand quickly denied the allegations in a statement to Radio New Zealand (RNZ).
“The so-called Chinese ‘intelligence gathering’ in NZ universities is pure hearsay. We hope the relevant side could view this from an objective and rational perspective … instead of making groundless accusations to undermine the trust and mutual understanding between the peoples of our two countries,” the statement said.
Security consultant says China’s intelligence gathering is “not surprising”
Security consultant Paul Buchanan told RNZ that China assigning so-called “intelligence collectors” to classrooms in New Zealand and other countries is “not surprising.” He said: “They do this all over the world. They monitor dissidents … and what is said about China. And that gives them an idea of what China looks like to the educated classes abroad.” (Related: Chinese agents arrested for stalking and attempting to coerce Chinese dissidents into returning to China.)
Buchanan said outsiders taking pictures of Chinese students in a lecture hall was highly problematic. However, he clarified that some of the other incidents could be more innocent.
“There is a big difference between spies … and nationalistic mainlanders who feel compelled to sit in and ‘correct’ – in their words – the mistaken opinions of foreigners when it comes to Chinese history,” he said.
Nevertheless, the security consultant acknowledged that some of the other activities were more similar to intimidation campaigns and were a cause for concern. “These people want to be seen in the classes, not so much by the lecturer, but by other Chinese nationals. It’s a very easy and effective way to get dissidents to hush up,” Buchanan explained.
CommunistChina.news has more articles about Chinese espionage and propaganda spreading in universities.