Yang didn’t disclose Chinese intelligence connections

National list MP Jian Yang didn’t disclose all of his Chinese work history in his application for New Zealand citizenship.

NZH: Jian Yang didn’t disclose Chinese intelligence connections in citizenship application

A newly reelected National Party MP said to have been investigated by New Zealand’s intelligence agencies didn’t disclose links to Chinese military intelligence when becoming a citizen, documents show.

Newly unredacted documents from Jian Yang’s 2004 citizenship application show Yang, who moved to New Zealand in 1999, did not list the 15 years he spent studying and working at the People’s Liberation Air Force Engineering Academy and the Luoyang Foreign Languages Institute from 1978. Both institutions are part of China’s military intelligence apparatus.

In his citizenship disclosures, Yang only lists his work and study history at the Australian National University and the University of Auckland.

The citizenship file had been released, following public clamour, the week prior to the election, but heavy redactions – said to protect Yang’s privacy – meant it was impossible to see what, if any, disclosures he had made about spy history in China.

The Herald complained to the Ombudsman about these redactions, forcing a rethink at the Department of Internal Affairs.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman’s office yesterday afternoon said: “DIA have reconsidered its decision to withhold Dr Yang’s answers to the study and work history questions on the citizenship application.”

In a press conference after news of his background broke, Yang said he had served as a civilian officer in the PLA and was required to not to name the institutions as a condition of being allowed to leave China.

He said he was not a spy, but conceded he was involved in training spies to assess intercepted communications.

Yang said he instead referred on applications to “partnership” civilian universities who had a relationship with the military institutions. “It is not that I am deliberately trying to cover-up. It’s because the system asked me to use the partner university,” he said.

At the time Yang denied making false declarations when becoming a citizen – a prerequisite to being able to enter parliament – but said he was reviewing his citizenship application to make sure it was correct.

The Herald say they have filed more OIA requests for information on Yang, but some may prove hard to get.

This week the SIS declined again to answer any questions about Yang, citing national security as a reason for withholding information.

“NZSIS does not comment on specific cases or individuals,” a spokesman for the spy agency said.

“I can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of information.”

The University of Auckland has refused to release information relating to his appointment in 1999 as a senior lecturer in political science, citing Yang’s privacy. This refusal is also the subject to a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Immigration NZ is still considering whether to release information relating to Yang’s residency applications, a precursor to his citizenship.

Is there any cause for concern about what Yang has done as a New Zealand citizen, or as an MP?

Or is it just possible concerns due to his past in China?

Should all immigrants who become citizens and then become MPs be scrutinised?

Perhaps Julie Anne Genter should be investigated just in case she’s working for the CIA.

William Sio could be check out in case he’s a Samoan secret agent.

Or if it’s only Chinese we are concerned about what about Raymond Huo? He’s probably fine but why not be sure?

Perhaps also of interest – why was  Jian Yang investigated, who prompted it, and why was his history revealed during an election campaign?

Should all potential MPs be investigated?

How much should MPs or possible future MPs be investigated?

Last week Newsroom published a number of stories about National MP Joan Yang:

How much should candidates be vetted by parties?

How much should they be investigated by media?

Should only immigrants standing for Parliament be questioned?

Michael Reddell writes of A near-complete cone of silence

I’d been planning to write a post today about the near-complete cone of silence that seems to have descended over elite New Zealand around the Jian Yang scandal.

That a former member of the Chinese intelligence service, former (perhaps present, if passive) member of the Chinese Communist Party, still in the very good graces of the Chinese authorities –  never, that is, having denounced the oppressive expansionist regime he served –  sits in New Zealand’s Parliament, nominated to again win a seat in Parliament on Saturday, is both astonishing –  at least to those like me who haven’t been close observers of such things –  and reprehensible.

That it seems not to bother anyone in, or close to, power (at least enough to do or say anything) is perhaps even more alarming.  There was a wave of stories in the first 24 hours after the Financial Times/Newsroom stories broke, and then……well, almost nothing.

Should there have been more said, done, investigated about Yang?

Does it matter what he did before he moved to New Zealand in 1999? Should he be investigated and judged on his distant past, or just on his record in New Zealand?

I don’t think there is any evidence he is a Chinese spy, but there have been many suggestions of that.

What about other immigrant candidates?

What about Green candidate Golriz Ghahraman?

Labour MP Raymond Huo?

NZ First MP Mahesh Bindra? He served in the Indian Army, migrating to New Zealand in 2002. Is he an Indian spy?

Should all immigrants wanting to stand for Parliament be regarded as suspect?

Should they all have had Newsroom investigations published during an election campaign?

A lot of questions here – I don’t have the answers, but some of them may be tricky in an open democracy.


Sunshine rose this morning, Peters demands urgent inquiry

Winston Peters doesn’t call for inquiries as often as the sun rises but he’s almost as predictable.

ODT:  Peters calls for inquiry into National MP

Speaking in Dunedin today, Mr Peters told about 260 people New Zealand had been caught out and exposed to being a pawn of the Communists in China.

“The influence of the Government of China is real within the New Zealand Government. This is not a spy thriller from the airport bookshelves,” he said to loud applause.

New Zealand became vulnerable the moment National recruited Dr Yang, Mr Peters said.

His decade of work with Chinese military intelligence had only now been opened up, but not yet laid bare.

Mr Peters said Dr Yang had tried to quell the outrage by saying he had been transparent.

However, his CV had 10 years missing which was the time he spent with the Chinese intelligence, and not as an English teacher.

”Was he the only English teacher they could find?”

Mr Peters claimed a Chinese informant, someone he trusted, alerted him to Dr Yang’s past in 2011 but could not provide the evidence.

He released copies of Hansard to prove he had raised the matters on April 5 which Prime Minister Bill English dismissed.

However there may be some dark clouds looking that distract Peters from pushing this – NZ First are trending down in the polls, slipping to 6% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll and that was taken before his alarming interview with Guyon Espiner this morning.

The Jian Yang story

I have serious concerns about the the ‘revelations’ about National MP and list candidate Jian Yang published 10 days before election day – advance voting has already begun opened.

Newsroom published this story. They also broke and drove the Todd Barclay story.

The timing is very questionable, especially with the Jian Yang story, as are implications made.

Why now? And why target one immigrant MP?

Attempts by media to influence elections seem to be growing in frequency and intent.

This isn’t isolated – yet another election targeting Brian Bruce documentary which also targeted China, was publicly funded by NZ on Air, was years in the making, and was broadcast just before the election.

Our democracy is at threat from media abusing their power for political purposes.


Chinese voter poll shows similar trends

A poll of 1300 Chinese voters shows strong support for national but also shows similar trends to general polls.

  • National 71.1% (down 2.4)
  • Labour 21.6% (up 5.8)

This is from NZ Herald with a silly headline: Poll: National will be back in Government if Chinese voters had their way

They don’t give any other party results but say that NZ First was down 2.4% and Act was down 2.0%.

The results are based on responses from 1300 Chinese New Zealanders who were eligible to vote in the September 23 election.

The WTV-Trace Research Chinese Poll is backed by local Asian media company World TV, and conducted by Trace Research Ltd, an independent market research consultancy.

Labour MP Raymond Huo has had a griizzle about the polling.

National List MP Jian Yang is believed to be the Chinese MP who would be the one to most effectively serve the Chinese community in the next three years on 44.8 per cent, followed by Labour’s Raymond Huo on 18.8 per cent.

Huo has written to the University of Auckland questioning the vadility of the poll, saying it “may not be robust enough to prevent it from some systemic abuse”.

“It appears to be nothing more than an online opinion survey ‘based primarily on the Chinese social media WeChat’ which is said to have more than 700 million subscribers worldwide,” he said in a letter to Professor Jenny Dixon, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor

Huo said the poll had been taken seriously because of Herald reports and its association with the University of Auckland, where Dr Zhu, is an honorary research fellow.

A university spokeswoman said the poll was carried out by an independent market research company and the university’s involvement was limited to a member of staff who helped proofread the Chinese-to-English translation of the results.

Zhu said Huo could “rest assured” that there were mechanisms in place to exclude those who are not based in New Zealand.

Zhu said it was common for elections to “bring out partisanship”.

Polls also.