National Party MP Jian Yang refutes 'Chinese spy' claim

Frederick Owens
September 13, 2017

Dr Yang Jian, a Member of Parliament for New Zealand's ruling National party, was said to have spent more than a decade training and teaching at institutions including China's top language academy for military intelligence officers, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday (Sept 13).

But National's Jian Yang says to him they were just students collecting information by monitoring the communications of other countries.

The FT said no other Western nation was known to have a sitting MP with such extensive links to China's intelligence community.

Newsroom reports that New Zealand's Security Intelligence Service has taken an interest in Dr Yang, and has been investigating his background.

There's no suggestion Dr Yang ever worked as a spy.

"The National Party advised me he was quite up front about his background there".

After graduating he stayed on at the institute as a lecturer, teaching English. "You get to know people as MPs and I think from early on I've been aware that he had military training including military intelligence", he said.

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"If you define those cadets or students as spies, yes, then I was teaching spies", he admitted on Wednesday. "[But] I don't think [they were spies] ..."

Dr Yang, elected in 2011, has consistently pushed for closer ties between New Zealand and China as well as for global policies that echoed those of China's Communist Party, the Financial Times said.

The prime minister, Bill English, told reporters he had been aware of Yang's background and did not believe the Chinese politician had tried to hide it. "You don't need to write too much about myself", he reportedly said.

"There's an irony to this - this latest link would have come from the Labour Party in response to National's attempt to paint their leader as a socialist activist, something which broke in the last 24 hours".

In his Mandarin-peppered maiden speech he recalled how his family had suffered under Mao Zedong's tumultuous reign, which ended with his death at the end of the Cultural Revolution, in 1976. China has risen to become the second largest economy in the world.

Yang and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at Chinese and Korean New Year festivities in Northcote.

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