New Zealand MP defends teaching English to Chinese spies

GIF by Jia Guo. View pronunciation video from Jia

GIF by Jia Guo. View pronunciation video from Jia

A National MP who was educated at a Chinese spy school has labelled revelations of his background a smear campaign by others.

He said the claims amounted to 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".

Yang attended university in Canberra before migrating to New Zealand to teach worldwide relations in the politics department at the University of Auckland. Twelve years later he became an MP, quoting China's former Communist party leader, Deng Xiaoping, in his debut speech to parliament.

Yang also said he was a member of the Communist Party while living in China but was no longer a member.

"Members of the Chinese community in New Zealand would have been obliged to respond to any fundraising request from him as a few would have been aware of his background, and present links to their homeland".

"I refute any allegations that question my loyalty to New Zealand ..."

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Jian condemned the "defamatory statements" and said he was a proud New Zealander who had been transparent about his background.

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. It included his time at the engineering university and language institute. "You get to know people as MPs and I think from early on I've been aware that he had military training including military intelligence", English said.

"I can understand that people can be concerned because they do not understand the Chinese system, " Mr Yang said.

On Wednesday, Yang admitted he had spent time at both institutions but insisted there had been nothing untoward about his work.

While there, Yang taught English and American studies.

"Once you understand the system and the universities, then you should understand - I am not a spy, I am just doing as a university lecturer and a student". I don't think so [they were spies].

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National Party list MP Jian Yang has admitted he previously taught English to students in China so they could monitor communications and collect information.

"The National Party either spectacularly failed to check out this candidate, or were totally naïve about what his background meant". "You're making a number of assumptions based on his background and I'd be careful unless you have proof of what you're saying", he told Newsroom.

But National's Jian Yang says to him they were just students collecting information by monitoring the communications of other countries.

National list MP Jian Yang beside party leader Bill English with "Blue Dragons" supporters at a party policy launch.

Yang at Chinese and Korean New Year festivities in Northcote. "You don't need to write too much about myself", he reportedly said.

However, the naturalised MP also heaped praise on the "awe-inspiring" changes China had witnessed after Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms of the late 1970s and 1980s.

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Mr Yang grew up in China before moving to Australia and then New Zealand.

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