20 Feb 2019

Anne-Marie Brady says Jenny Shipley made a 'mistake' in talking to Chinese state media

9:47 am on 20 February 2019

A professor and prominent critic of China, Anne-Marie Brady, says Dame Jenny Shipley made a "mistake" in giving an interview to a state-run newspaper.

Dame Jenny Shipley

Dame Jenny Shipley Photo: RNZ

The piece on the People's Daily website is headlined 'We need to learn to listen to China' and says it was written by the former Prime Minister.

But Dame Jenny said she did not write the article which has been published under her byline.

She said the article appeared to be based on an interview she gave to the Communist Party-run newspaper in December.

The article praises China's Belt and Road Initiative, calling it one of the world's greatest ideas with the potential to create the next wave of economic growth.

It comes at a time of strained relations between China and New Zealand since Chinese telco Huawei was blocked from supplying equipment for Spark's planned high speed mobile network here.

Prof Brady said Dame Jenny made a mistake in talking to one of the Communist Party-run newspapers.

"They have a habit of making things up, interviews that never happened and taking things out of context," Prof Brady told Morning Report.

The Communist Party's strategy is to identify friends of China and use them to support its messaging, she said.

"The timing is very bad but one should always be very careful in speaking to that kind of media and that's the first mistake that she's made."

She said New Zealand was not experiencing impacts on trade with China as a result of recent spate of incidents that have been interpreted as a deterioration in relations with the super power.

However, New Zealand was strategically important to Huawei as it influenced what Pacific Island countries did.

"China is being very muscular in its foreign policy under Xi Jinping so they're trying to pressure various countries to bend in their policies."