Published: Fri, September 15, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

New Zealand MP 'probed over close China links'

New Zealand MP 'probed over close China links'

"I am not a spy", Yang Jian, the National party's first MP born in mainland China, told reporters on Wednesday after a joint investigation by the Financial Times and New Zealand's Newsroom revealed what they described as his hidden past. "I just think they are collecting information through communication in China".

However, in a statement the MP Winston Peters said Yang's links to Chinese intelligence were worrying: "The National party either spectacularly failed to check out this candidate, or were totally naive about what his background meant".

Mr Jones says there is no place in a New Zealand parliament, let alone a government, for a man who was once a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

If you define those cadets or students as spies, yes, then I was teaching spies.

However Mr Peters says he is concerned and is calling for action.

A spokesman for China's ministry of foreign affairs said it did not usually comment on the internal affairs of other countries - but stated "we are firmly opposed to false reports, groundless accusations and falsifications from some media".

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This is likely what has SIS anxious - particularly as New Zealand shares national security information with the four other major anglophone countries (the USA, 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.

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. He served on the parliamentary select committee for foreign affairs, defence and trade from October 2014 until March past year.

He warned that while Beijing appeared to see New Zealand as a softer target than countries such as the United States and Britain, "it may also be using it as a testing ground for future operations in other countries".

FT said he majored in English language at the People's Liberation Army Air Force Engineering Academy in 1978, and also taught at the academy after he graduated. The Financial Times said the latter institution specializes in training military intelligence officers and 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.

China is one of New Zealand's top trading partners. It has become a key export market for New Zealand's milk and agricultural products and also contributes to New Zealand's growing tourism industry.

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