Written By: - Date published: 10:35 am, November 5th, 2017 - 68 comments
Categories: accountability, bill english, China, Deep stuff, democracy under attack, International, national, Politics - Tags: matt nippert
A story that has been bubbling away recently is that of National MP Jian Yang. News broke just before the election that he had links to the Chinese Government, had taught Chinese spies and had been investigated by the SIS.
From the Newsroom story published at the time:
A National Party MP who studied at an elite Chinese spy school before moving to New Zealand has attracted the interest of our Security Intelligence Service.
The list MP Jian Yang did not mention in his work or political CVs a decade he spent in the People’s Liberation Army-Air Force Engineering College or the Luoyang language institute run by China’s equivalent of the United States National Security Agency.
That agency, the Third Department, conducts spying activities for China.
Newsroom has been told that to have taught at the Air Force Engineering College, Yang would have almost certainly been an officer in Chinese military intelligence and a member of the Communist Party, as other students and staff have been.
Yang studied and then taught there before moving to Australia where he attended the Australian National University in Canberra. He migrated to this country to teach international relations in the politics department at the University of Auckland.
He was hand-picked by National Party president Peter Goodfellow to become an MP on its list in 2011, wooed directly by the former Prime Minister John Key and has been a key fundraiser for National among the Chinese community in Auckland.
The local media then went quiet on the story up to the election. But since then and with Yang returned to Parliament more attention has been given to the story.
Yang originally said that the claim he was a Chinese spy or was trained by spies was a “smear campaign by nameless people”. Subsequently he has admitted that he did teach English to students in China so they could monitor communications and collect information.
Matt Nippert obtained Yang’s application for residency and this provided interesting information. The documents were released on the afternoon of the announcement of the new Government. From the article:
Documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA) also show less than a year after leaving China in 1994 he was working at the Australian Parliament on the Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The documents were released this afternoon, on the eve of Winston Peter’s announcement of the formation of a new government, following OIA requests made last month by the Herald.
Yang moved to New Zealand in 1999, becoming a lecturer in political science at the University of Auckland, then entering Parliament on the National Party’s list in 2014. He re-entered Parliament at the recent general election after being placed 33rd on the party’s list.
The documents show Yang referred to his work and study history in China – 15 years in total from 1978 – as solely with “Luoyang University”.
It has subsequently been revealed Yang graduated with an undergraduate degree from military-linked institutions the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Engineering Academy, and later lectured at the elite spy school the Luoyang Foreign Languages Institute.
And Yang appears to confirm that the information in his application for residence was not, ahem, correct.
In a press conference after the report of his background broke, Yang said he had served as a civilian officer in the [People’s Liberation Army] and was required … not to name the institutions as a condition of being allowed to leave China.
He declined today to elaborate on who exactly had requested he kept the institutions vague.
He said last month he was not a spy, but conceded he was involved in training spies to assess intercepted communications.
Get that? He told New Zealand Immigration that he worked in a different institution “as a condition of being allowed to leave China”. One could imagine that if he had said that he taught in a military institution teaching Chinese spies alarm bells within New Zealand Immigration may have gone off.
Bill English has suggested that Yang has not hidden his background. This directly conflicts what Yang himself has admitted.
Immigration appear to be indifferent to the situation. Again from the article:
In a note accompanying the release, Immigration New Zealand said: “We note that Mr Yang met all the requirements under the relevant legislation at the time of his residence application and no character concerns were identified at the time.”
Questions to Immigration NZ about whether recent concerns about the level of Yang’s disclosure, or subsequent character concerns, had triggered investigations at the department were answered in a statement by INZ Assistant General Manager Geoff Scott.
“No new information has come to light which would warrant an investigation,” Scott said.
So what could happen? Well providing false or misleading information when making an application for an Immigration visa is a serious matter. And there is power to cancel a visa.
Of course relationships with China are vital and I do not think that the Government would want to do anything to affect these relationships. It is quite possible that nothing further will happen and Yang will continue as a National MP. But it seems strange that a supporter of the Chinese Communist Party should be a National MP. How times have changed.