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China uses tourism to pressure New Zealand to make spying easier

Is China keen to export telecommunication equipment to spy on countries. New Zealand thinks so, and tourism has to suffer as a China retaliates.

China outbound tourism becomes more and more a political tool for China’s government to put pressure on target countries. Travel Warnings again Canada is only one example. Now  New Zealand has become the latest target of a propaganda campaign in China’s state-run media, with the English language Global Times newspaper claiming that tourists are canceling their holidays in retaliation for the New Zealand banning Huawei from being involved in the 5G rollout.

Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. is a Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and consumer electronics manufacturer, headquartered in Shenzhen. Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army, founded Huawei in 198

In November national telecommunications company Spark was temporarily banned from using Huawei equipment in the rollout after New Zealand’s spy agency warned it would pose “significant national security risks”.

A report in the English-language Global Times newspaper, a tabloid arm of the Communist party’s official newspaper group, quoted a Beijing resident identified as “Li”, saying that as a result, he planned to cancel his holiday to New Zealand and go elsewhere instead.

The report, which was picked up by New Zealand media, comes amid a period of unusually tense relations between the two nations.

Over the past month a major tourism event between the two countries was put indefinitely on hold, an Air New Zealand plane was turned back from Shanghai.

Telecommunications company Huawei launched a high-profile advertising blitz, aimed at pressuring the government in Auckland to sign off on its participation with the nation-wide 5G rollout.

A visit by the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to Beijing was cancelled late in 2018 with no new date confirmed.

The Huawei ban and the Pacific “reset” – New Zealand’s strengthening of ties in the Pacific region to counter growing Chinese influence – have made the New Zealand–China relationship “much bumpier” than under the previous National government, Young says.

Other, smaller stressors, have added to the tension. “China’s relationship with a number of western countries over the last couple of years have been quite rocky, especially with the United States. For New Zealand, we’re not immune to such international trends, but we also have a long relationship and there’s a lot of good things continuing,” Young said.

New Zealand had close to half a million Chinese tourists in 2018, make it the second-largest source of visitors after Australia.

The opposition National party’s leader, Simon Bridges, said the government’s “steadily deteriorating relations” with China were putting the valuable trading relationship at risk. But Ardern said that while the two countries had their “challenges” their ties remained robust.

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