Australian media have been reporting the Five Eyes alliance has broadened intelligence-sharing activities to Germany and Japan to combat China.
The increased cooperation by the alliance – Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – is said to be a sign of a broadening international front against Chinese influence operations and investments.
According to the media reports, the enhanced cooperation amounts to an informal expansion of the Five Eyes group on the specific issue of foreign interference.
Perhaps coincidentally, the agency in NZ which processes the intelligence from its partners, the GCSB, has identified “a significant security risk” associated with Spark NZ’s application for the deployment of Huawei 5G equipment in the planned 5G Radio Access Network (RAN).
GCSB Director-General Andrew Hampton told Spark he considers its proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in the RAN would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks.
As some commentators see it, NZ has at last woken up to the risks associated with China’s push into the Pacific. Foreign Minister Winston Peters has been at the forefront of pushing for a harder-nosed approach towards China (although at the same time he apparently is determined not to give an inch to his political opponents—hence his barb directed at National’s MP Dr Jian Yang, who in an earlier life admitted to training Chinese spies in English).
Peters said in an interview on RadioLive it would be “naive” to think general citizens are not being spied upon by foreign powers.
“At the moment the issue is that the problem is from whence it’s happening, but this isn’t limited to just one country,” he said.
To some, it is not surprising that Peters — and an increasing number of ministers – are becoming concerned at the inroads China is making into NZ affairs. NZ officials who follow these issues closely believe there is increasing evidence of offshore intervention – aka penetration – into this country.
Some think NZ may shortly have to confront the challenge head-on as recent activities have only reinforced the absolute value of intelligence NZ derives from its Five-Eyes and allied links.
Strangely, left-wingers like Chris Trotter and Mike Lee have been defending China. Trotter says angering China “can be extremely injurious to this nation’s economic health” . He argues that those wanting the Government to take strong action are being rather naive and foolish.
The puzzle here is why China commands such support, despite its growing influence, from champions who – a generation ago – held trenchant anti-US positions because of their concern about American influence.
It should be noted that the US at APEC was much readier to expose brutal Chinese tactics.
Perhaps Washington might be a better friend, despite the capricious nature of the current incumbent in the White House.