21 Feb 2019

Dame Jenny article in Chinese publication 'based on earlier interview'

4:01 pm on 21 February 2019

A pro-China article with former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley's byline is actually based on an earlier interview of her, the Chinese publication who ran the article says.

Dame Jenny Shipley became the leader of the National Party and prime minister in 1997. She helped recruit John Key as an MP in 2001.

Dame Jenny Shipley denies she wrote the opinion piece, which was published by a China state-owned publication under her name. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Dame Jenny has been criticised by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters after the opinion piece appeared on the Chinese state-owned media outlet, People's Daily, on Monday.

She said that she didn't write the piece and the article appeared to be based on an interview she did with People's Daily.

The newspaper didn't reply to RNZ's inquires about the authenticity of the article on Wednesday.

However, it updated its web page late yesterday saying "the article is based on the interview by a journalist with People's Daily in December 2018".

The article, titled We Need To Learn To Listen To China, praised China's reforms and contributions to the world's economy during the past decades.

It spoke highly of the more recent Belt and Road Initiative, calling it a "forward-looking idea" which "has the potential to create the next wave of economic growth".

"While China continues to think about how it can open wider to the world, we should learn to listen to China," it said.

"We need to work with China, the second largest economy in the world, globally to find ways to explore the future and move forward together."

Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury and a prominent critic of China, said Dame Jenny made a "mistake" in giving an interview to a state-run newspaper.

Dame Jenny said today she had nothing further to add.