The government deserves praise for taking proactive and public steps against the Chinese Consulate’s attempt to interfere with speech at universities.

Free Speech Coalition spokesperson Dr David Cumin says, “It would have been easy for the government to do nothing, for fear of offending a key trading partner. Instead, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reminded the Chinese Government that free speech is a fundamental New Zealand value. Even more importantly, the prime minister has publicly confirmed this action, drawing attention to illiberal and surreptitious interference that the Chinese state would rather keep quiet.”

“Obviously, it never should have come to this. AUT shouldn’t have even considered scrapping an event based on pressure from a foreign government, peaceful protests at the University of Auckland must be allowed, and violence should never be encouraged. The silver lining to this issue is that Universities can now have confidence in hosting contentious speech with the backing of the prime minister. Well done to her.”