UPDATED 5:30PM: National MP Jian Yang has clarified that he taught Chinese spies English before he moved to New Zealand, but denies acting in any operations or holding any rank in the Chinese military.
Dr Yang held a press conference today after Newsroom reported the list MP did not mention in his work or political CVs the 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.
He says he was a civilian staff member, paid by the college to teach. He understood that he was teaching spies but he says he did not know if they were spying on New Zealand.
“In the Chinese community many people are aware of this. I feel very relaxed, but there is no reason to actively let everyone know that I have this background. Whenever people ask about this background I will not deny it.
Dr Yang went onto explain that he was not embarrassed but says “people don’t understand the background it can be complicated. People don’t understand the background, they think Chinese military…and feel sensitive about it so why should I really get into this.”
“That’s why I said could understand if it might concern people but once you understand the system and the universities then you understand I am not a spy I am just doing as university lecturer and student.”
The MP confirmed he had been a member of the communist party but was no longer.
While Dr Yang has labelled the statement that he is a spy defamatory, he says he is still taking advice around any potential legal action.
A National MP who was educated at a Chinese spy school has labelled revelations of his background a smear campaign by others.
Today Newsroom reported list MP Jian Yang did not mention in his work or political CVs the 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.
It has been reported that to have been taught at the air force college, Dr 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.
In a statement, Dr Yang refutes any allegations questioning his loyalty to New Zealand and maintains he has been upfront about his education and employment.
“Although I was not born here, I am proud to call myself a New Zealander, obey our laws and contribute to this country. I challenge those who are propagating these defamatory statements to front up and prove them.
“This is a smear campaign by nameless people who are out to damage me and the National Party ten days from an election, just because I am Chinese.”
Newsroom reported that the Security Intelligence Service had scrutinised Dr Yang at times over three years, including interviewing one person about him last year. The agency says it would not comment on operational matters, especially investigations involving individuals.
The National Party website does mention other aspects of Dr Yang's education including that he received an MA and PhD in International Relations at the Australian National University (ANU). Dr Yang came to the University of Auckland in March 1999 where he held positions including senior lecturer of international relations and associate dean (postgraduate) of the faculty of arts.
He is currently a parliamentary private secretary for ethnic communities, chair of the education and science select committee and a member of the transport and industrial relations select committee.
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