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Kiwi taxpayers unwittingly helped pay for Chinese propaganda film, expert says


Everyday Kiwis have helped pay for a Chinese propaganda film through their taxes, according to professor Anne-Marie Brady, an expert on China.

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The film, called Wolf Warrior 2, has lines like "anyone who offends China... must be exterminated". Source: Seven Sharp

The money has gone towards blockbuster action film Wolf Warrior 2, which was filmed overseas but had some post-production work done in New Zealand.

The movie, described as China's Rambo, has lines such as "anyone who offends China must be exterminated”. The film features Chinese fighters as the heroes who must defeat the American villains.

The producers spent $1.2 million here, attracting a taxpayer-funded rebate of around a quarter of a million dollars.

The payout, however, may cause some explosions back in New Zealand.

“China used to be the place where you’d get really cutting-edge art movies, but that’s not the case anymore,” Ms Brady told Seven Sharp. “It’s not possible to make a movie that’s outside the censorship guidelines."

The University of Canterbury professor said new Zealanders should consider whether the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“It’s bad enough that we’ve paid over $111 million to Peter Jackson’s films – even the New Zealand treasury says it’s not a good use of money – and I think that’s something that New Zealand taxpayers might want to think about. Could we put the money somewhere else – in health, in education, housing?”

She said there are strong links between the film and the Chinese government.

"The bodies who made it are state companies and the partner who signed the agreement with the New Zealand Government is the body in charge for censoring and managing the film industry in China," she said.

Another risk involved was the country's strong censorship controls.

“Recently, Mulan was filmed in Auckland with Niki Caro, and one of the actors tweeted some pro-Hong Kong protest comments. The film has had to be re-shot because of that, because it won’t get through censorship controls.”

She said Wolf Warrior 2 will not be the sole instance of Chinese propaganda films being footed by the Kiwi taxpayer.

“This agreement was signed in late 2017 and the plan is to have many more such films made,” she said.

“I don’t think that we should be subsidising the Chinese government.”