Thanks to the National Party Chinese $200,000 donation scandal one of today’s faces of the day Finance Minister Grant Robertson is making hay while the sun shines and righteously declaring that Political parties should be careful about who they accept donations from because of foreign influence.

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It was only a couple of years ago that the other face of the day PM Jacinda Ardern was singing a very different tune.

Back in 2018, Ardern didn’t think there was any need to be worried about foreign influence on NZ Politics.

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Ms Ardern told Morning Report Mr Zhang attended a Labour fundraiser on September 9 2017 but she does not know if he donated any money.

“We’ve complied with the law. He’s not on our declaration.

The BFD. Jacinda Ardern with Yikun Zhang

“There’s no register of a donation from him,” she said.

Ms Ardern said she met Mr Zhang “in passing” but had not discussed donations with him.

On Friday, University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady told Morning Report politicians needed to look deeper into the connections of donors.

“The real threat that I’m paying attention to in this story is the failure of our political parties to prevent foreign government interference into our democratic political processes.

“The matters we need to look into is the connection of some of these donors, not all of them… to the Chinese party state. The Chinese Communist Party is an elite party and they have a tactic, which was set by Lenin … and it’s called the United Front. It’s a way to influence non-party members and in the case of foreign policy, foreigners.”

Professor Brady said New Zealand politicians should be wary of the intentions behind any donations.

“It seems that they think that they can take this money and then maintain independent foreign policy and independent New Zealand domestic politics, but it’s very clear that the money comes with strings attached and that was revealed in that conversation that Jami-Lee Ross played to us all this week.

“One of the things we need to do in New Zealand is to start to see China the way it really is.

“We need to upskill our local politicians and our national politicians in our public sector. In the ‘abc’ of the Chinese party state, we’ve got to be able to engage with China and understand it, but also recognise the risks.”

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