Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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New Zealand Plotted To Spy On China For The U.S., According to Leaked Documents

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

(Photo : REUTERS) New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says he will declassify documents that prove the government's mass spying initiative never pushed through.

Did New Zealand Prime Minister John Key have a "double face" when dealing with China? Such a doubt on the sincerity of Key surfaced after reports showed that Wellington possibly breached the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

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According to Herald on Sunday, New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) possibly violated the two treaties that ban interception of diplomatic communications. The daily claimed that the bureau teamed up with the National Security Agency (NSA) of the U.S.

The covert operations had NSA hackers breaking into a data link in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand and its financial capital, so they could eavesdrop on Chinese diplomats.

Ironically, Key is also the minister in charge of GCSB. Yet, in 2014, Key described Wellington's two-way trade relationship with Beijing - estimated at $15 billon - as "never been stronger." He said then the relationship went beyond trading but had more depth.

The operation, according to the NSA, said that the data link between China's consulate and visa office were just two buildings away and five minutes apart on Great South Road. GCSB gave to the NSA additional technical data on the data link to the Tailored Access Operations of the NSA which hacks into computer systems and networks.

Active surveillance was made possible by placing spyware in the computers of the Chinese government or routers that connect the data link of the consulate. A special section within the GCSB tasked to perform economic analysis handles the data collected from the Chinese agencies. That section is also called IBE and specialized from 1981 until the turn of the millennium in Japanese diplomatic communications.

The extent of the spy work on China, however, is unknown since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden left in May 2013 and brought with him the secret files.

China's embassy in New Zealand expressed concern with the alleged spying by the GCSB. The spokesman said the embassy placed great importance on the issue of cyber security, but it would proposed to settle the matter by dialogue and the crafting of a code that would regulate cyber space behaviors that both Beijing and Wellington would consider acceptable.

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