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‘Extreme’ pro-China candidate raises disquiet

An "extreme pro-Beijing" writer has caused controversy in the Chinese community and awkwardness for the Labour Party by standing for political office in Auckland.

Morgan Xiao, whose strong writings countering China's critics here include calling noted China scholar Professor Anne-Marie Brady and others  "anti-China forces" and "sons of bitches" and calling for Tiananmen Square protesters to be strung up, wants a seat on the Howick Local Board in the local elections.

Xiao's candidacy is being used by those he has assailed to claim he is connected to the Chinese Communist Party and does not stand for New Zealand's democratic values.

Xiao responded to Newsroom by acknowledging he did not expect to get elected, and, while a member of the Labour Party and standing for the Labour-aligned East Vision ticket, he had not in the past agreed with some Labour policies.

He said he wanted to understand the political culture here and for more Chinese to participate in elections and would write about his experiences for his readers on social platforms.

His attack on Brady and Chinese community critics of Beijing's policies was published late last year simultaneously in three local Chinese media outlets, a move seen as a coordinated attack with approval from China's advocates here - and an indication of CCP influence in New Zealand.

Xiao says he stands by his article, which was to challenge the view that anyone supportive of China must be a Communist Party member or spy.

He believes many of those assailing China from afar did not have the negative experiences back in China that they claim and instead are deliberately undermining their homeland.

But he had issued an apology on his Facebook page for using the "bad language, the curse" of "sons of bitches". He emphasised his apology was not to Brady or members of the Falun Gong dissident group but to the community for the choice of language.

Xiao, 34, is an assistant at a real estate business and has been in New Zealand since he was 19.

He joined the Labour Party in Pakuranga "about a year ago" at the urging of a friend, despite personally opposing a number of Labour's policies. But his friend thought he was a "clever guy who knew about politics" so he agreed.

After his piece attacking Brady and others, it was the local Labour Party chair who suggested Xiao should apologise for the language.

One post on the local SkyKiwi Chinese community site on Wednesday says Xiao's backers have strong ties to the Communist Party. "Yep, you heard it right, someone that is outright against democracy and the Western
Society is participating in a democratic election and is participating as a Labour member."

The post, by someone under the pseudonym of u/TrashFromSkykiwi, said Xiao's "sons of bitches" article was clearly CCP inspired as it called on Chinese critics here to leave this country.

One local Chinese resident from the Howick area where Xiao is standing told Newsroom "When we are now raising our concerns and worries about China interference in NZ, an extreme pro-Beijing individual with some official background comes up and nominated as a candidate under the Labour Party."

But Xiao said of the "extreme pro-Beijing" label: "If you compare it with the environment in New Zealand, then yes, I am but in China I am kind-of in the middle of the road.

"I have a strong voice for these issues and so I can talk about them. I say everything with evidence and proof.

"I am not CCP. I am just pro-Chinese and pro-China. I do not like the party, but I do not hate the party either. I disagree with lots of this party's behaviour... but I agree the CCP has lots of good policies."

He said there were allegations that anyone from mainland China getting involved in politics was "a spy or something". 

But many New Zealand politicians were encouraging Chinese to get involved in politics. "I totally agree with that and I am trying to get more Chinese to speak their voices."

Xiao said the members of his East Vision organisation standing for the local board are Labour Party members but it was not representing Labour. 

He says, for the record, he is not a spy, does not associate with Chinese government people and has not been to China for some time.  "The Government can check my background and communication records."

Tze Ming Mok, a writer and commentator, posted about Xiao on social media in November, when Xiao's article backing the Chinese businessman caught up in the Jami-Lee Ross affair appeared, that Xiao used "cultural Revolution-era rhetoric"

She said: "People are entitled to their political opinion in this country. But surely the more natural fit for a guy who professes to live in service of the Chinese volk, except the ones who don't like the Chinese govt, is the Chinese Communist Party, not the NZ Labour Party."

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