Published: Fri, September 15, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

It's nothing personal - but National MP Dr Jian Yang should resign

It's nothing personal - but National MP Dr Jian Yang should resign

A joint investigation by Newsroom and Hong Kong's Financial Times claims New Zealand's Security Intelligence Service has investigated the Chinese-born MP, including interviewing a person about him previous year.

Yang said he taught university students English language and American studies, and some of his students were trained to collect, monitor and interpret information.

Prime Minister Bill English also weighed in, saying that he had been aware of Yang's background - including previous Communist Party membership - and it had not concerned him.

On Wednesday Yang was battling claims not that he was a black or a white cat, but a Trojan horse, after claims New Zealand's security services had been investigating him for ties to China's intelligence services. "If you define it that way, then they are spies".

This is likely what has SIS anxious - particularly as New Zealand shares national security information with the four other major anglophone countries (the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Canada), and as Yang had sat on the parliament's select committee for foreign affairs, defense, and trade from 2014 to 2016.

Winston Peters has called for an inquiry over revelations a National Party MP has links to the Chinese military.

He said he had been upfront and transparent about his education and employment and was the victim of a smear campaign 10 days before a general election.

"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".

One is the Air Force Engineering Academy of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), where he studied English language as an undergraduate and subsequently taught. "Meanwhile, Dr Yang must step aside".

"From the beginning I made it clear to the party that I have this military background, not only to the party but also to other people", he said. The newspaper said the school specialised in training both "openly acknowledged military intelligence officers and "secret line" deep cover agents".

"I can understand people can be concerned, because they do not understand Chinese system, but once they understand the system they should be assured this is nothing really you should be concerned about", he said according to a Newshub report.

"The influence of the government of China is real within the New Zealand government".

"There must be proof Dr Yang is not a risk".

He also used the opportunity to lash out at Chinese ownership in New Zealand, including Silver Fern Farms, which has its headquarters in Dunedin.

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