7 Ex-New Zealand Defence Personnel Found Training CCP’s Military

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Skilled and experienced former defence personnel are training the CCP’s military in ways to increase its ‘capability and lethality,’ the NZ SIS has warned.

Just weeks after it was revealed that New Zealand’s intelligence agency was hosting foreign spy equipment, and that Beijing hackers had breached government agencies, a spy agency has confirmed that seven former NZ Defence Force personnel helped train the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military.

NZSIS Director-General Andrew Hampton told Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee the seven had been hired over the last 18 months by the Test Flying Academy in South Africa, supporting military and aviation training.

Mr. Hampton said this was part of a wider strategy by Beijing to “strengthen the capability and lethality of its army.”

“The training and expertise they were passing on was gained through previous employment with partner militaries and with the New Zealand Defence Force. Such activity clearly poses a major national security risk and it is not in New Zealand’s interest to have former military personnel training in other military who does not share the same values as our own,” he said.

All seven individuals have left their training roles after “threat mitigation activities” carried out by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), as well as in partner countries like Australia.

“The risk remains that other New Zealanders may be lured by high salaries to replace them,” Mr. Hampton warned.

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The director-general warned the foreign interference and espionage environment as “complex and fast-evolving, driven by geostrategic competition.”

The director-general told MPs that NZSIS had observed “state actors or their proxies seeking to covertly build long-term influence with individuals in our national political environment,” and warned that businesses and even local government were increasingly becoming targets.

Also of growing concern is “the monitoring and harassment of ethnic communities” which Mr. Hampton said was “becoming more sophisticated and even more insidious.”

“Foreign states like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or the Republic of Iran have ways to make life difficult for those who dare speak out against those governments. That’s simply unacceptable in a country like New Zealand.”

But he added, “When I reference those countries, I am talking specifically about the state and those who act on its behalf, not the Chinese or Iranian people as a whole and certainly not community members in New Zealand. In many cases it’s those very communities we need to protect.”

On a slightly more positive note, he said New Zealand’s national terrorism threat level currently stands at low.

“That means we consider a terrorist attack to be a realistic possibility, but that we’re not seeing specific attack planning at this time. To be clear—it doesn’t mean there is no threat.

“There is enough vile rhetoric online to suggest there are people who may have the motivation to launch an attack, and there are a small number of known violent extremists who continue to draw significant investigative resources.”

And while terrorists continue to be motivated by faith, identity, and politics, “we’re also seeing an emerging trend where violent extremists are motivated by highly personalised ideologies with no strong allegiance to a specific violent extremist cause or group,” he said.

“Indeed, it is looking like those with fluid ideological convictions could become our most prominent subjects of investigation.”

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