WELLINGTON, New Zealand — More than 160 China experts from around the world have signed a letter urging New Zealand’s government to protect an academic who said she was the subject of harassment and intimidation for publishing research critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
The letter, published Thursday on the Czech website Sinopsis and signed by 169 scholars, researchers, journalists, commentators and human rights advocates, is the latest effort by scholars to ramp up pressure on Western governments to confront China’s political interference beyond its borders.
The New Zealand police and the country’s intelligence agency, along with Interpol, are investigating the case of Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury in the city of Christchurch. She said she had been subjected to a yearlong harassment campaign in which her home was burglarized, her office broken into twice and her car sabotaged.
Ms. Brady said the only items stolen from her home were electronic devices linked to her China scholarship, with the thief or thieves ignoring cash and newer electronics used by other family members.
She said the harassment began after she published a paper in 2017 titled Magic Weapons, which outlined what she called China’s blueprint for spreading its influence in Western countries.
In Thursday’s letter, the signatories said they were “appalled and alarmed” by the “wave of intimidation” against Ms. Brady. An introduction written by Miguel Martin, an independent China researcher who writes under the pseudonym Jichang Lulu, said the number of “unprecedented attacks” on foreign scholars of China were escalating.
He said China’s intimidation of academics included “harassment for their views and opinions, denial of visas, threatened or actual libel suits or, in some cases, detentions during research visits in mainland China.”
Kevin Carrico, a lecturer in Chinese studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and one of several Australian academics to sign the letter, said the harassment of Ms. Brady “only confirms” her research into Chinese meddling and risked silencing other China watchers.
“We’re facing a completely unacceptable and frankly insane situation in which a scholar focused on P.R.C. interference operations is falling victim to those same interference operations,” Mr. Carrico said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.