Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says spying from foreign nations is inevitable, but the fixation on Chinese influence boils down to racism.
A University of Canterbury professor recently alleged that repeated burglaries at her home are linked to her research on China’s foreign policy.
"You'd be terribly naïve to think that New Zealand citizens are not being spied on by foreign powers," Mr Peters told RadioLIVE.
"It's been going on for decades but the issue in this case is from whence it's happening."
When Mark Sainsbury suggested that people are naturally suspicious of the communist nation, Mr Peters said Sainsbury is putting it too lightly.
He said some New Zealanders have suspicions of Chinese influence because “they don’t like Chinese, full stop.”
“The Chinese work hard, they save hard, they are family-oriented and more importantly – they have a long-range focus, like all great countries do,” Mr Peters told RadioLIVE.
“Chinese work decades, generations to achieve their long-term goals. That’s very admirable. A lot of New Zealanders can’t handle that.”
Listen to the full interview with Winston Peters above.
Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury, 9am - 12pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.